Tom Perez: 'Troubling' to See 'Appalling Silence' From GOP Leaders on Trump Campaign Aide Indictments

Tom Perez / Getty Images
October 31, 2017

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday lambasted Republican lawmakers for their response to indictments handed down by special counsel Robert Mueller in his ongoing investigation.

Perez declared Republican silence "appalling" at a breakfast in Washington, D.C. hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, according to USA Today. Some Republicans have spoken publicly about the indictments, but Perez focused on the way their reaction has been limited.

Perez said it is "troubling to me to see such appalling silence from so many Republican leaders. The silence isn't just deafening, it's appalling."

Perez argued that new evidence supports the idea of an "undeniable attack on our democracy" by Russia, and he implied that President Donald Trump and his top campaign officials were involved.

"We now have pretty clear evidence there was an undeniable attack on our democracy," Perez said. "The Russians were trying to traffic in the [Clinton campaign] emails" to get Trump elected, he added. "The rot went all the way to the top of the campaign."

Mueller announced charges on Monday against three advisers to Trump's presidential campaign. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI and pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas shell companies. Manafort's longtime associate Rick Gates was also charged and is in custody. Both men were indicted on 12 charges, including conspiracy against the U.S.

Mueller also revealed that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty this month to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Russian contacts.

Trump himself has vigorously denied allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia. On Tuesday morning he tweeted that "Fake News is working overtime," and called Papadopoulos a "low level volunteer" and a "liar."

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have largely held their tongues about the new developments.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said he did not want to speculate about recently unsealed documents that he had not read, but maintained that Congress' work would not be "derailed." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) downplayed the ultimate effects of Russian interference.

"I think Russia meddles in everyone's election," he told CNBC.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) was one of the GOP congressmen to comment about the charges publicly, and like his colleagues, he emphasized following regular procedures.

Perez called Republicans who spoke out "courageous," and he said he hopes more choose to do so.

Perez also strongly defended Hillary Clinton from charges of impropriety in financing the controversial opposition research by Fusion GPS. Clinton and the DNC helped fund former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele's anti-Trump dossier, which contains unconfirmed allegations against Trump and was published after the election.

"Opposition research is not simply something that ought to be done," Perez said. "It would be malpractice not to do it, especially when you have a presidential candidate who blew convention out a window."

Disclosure: The Washington Free Beacon was once a client of Fusion GPS. That relationship ended in January 2017. For more information, see here.