Canary in the Coal Mine: The 2017 Article That Foretold the GOP's Implosion

Revisiting an early exposé on the GOP's corruption, foreign entanglements, and the threats to democracy that have only grown more urgent.

Seven years ago, in the aftermath of the 2016 election, I published an article that was among the first to sound the alarm about the growing rot within the Republican party and the corrupting influence of Russian money and interference. With the benefit of hindsight, this piece was prescient in identifying many key players and dynamics that would later be confirmed and further exposed. As we grapple with the fallout and the ongoing threats to our democracy, I believe it's worth revisiting this article to understand the roots of where we find ourselves today.

For paid subscribers, I'm republishing the full piece below. It serves as a reminder of the importance of fearless, ahead-of-the-curve reporting and analysis, even—perhaps especially—when the full picture is still emerging. If you're a free subscriber, I hope you'll consider upgrading to a paid subscription, which gives you access to this article and hundreds more like it in the archives and the same type of prescient reporting of today’s news.


Originally published in May 2017, this article was written in the aftermath of a disturbing incident in which Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter on the eve of a special election in Montana. The article presents this as a "canary in the coal mine" for a Republican party in crisis, compromised by Russian influence and money.

It traces the connections between key figures like Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and others and digs into Cambridge Analytica's role in influencing both the Brexit vote in the UK and the 2016 election in the US. Presciently, it points to emerging evidence of high-level meetings between Trump associates and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and of Russian financial flows to top Republicans.

Sounding a call to action, the piece argues that "the future of the Republic – and democracy – requires a strong GOP founded on the values it holds dear." It calls for the party to return to its roots and principles, reject foreign influence and corruption, and fight to overturn Citizens United and get big money out of politics. While subsequent years have seen further tests of our system rather than the hoped-for rebirth of the GOP, the article remains a powerful artifact of real-time reporting in a tumultuous political moment.

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