To understand Congressional Republicans’ lack of shame — and even righteous pride — in defending an obvious crook, we can look at how a tribe works in a failed state: it would be wrong not to lie or cheat to help any member of your tribe, no matter how unworthy, just because they’re in the tribe — and without fail if they’re the leader. If, in your world, everyone is corrupt, then the tribe is your only protection, and loyalty is the paramount value.
How did the Republican Party achieve the status of a failed state? It was eaten by its own scam.
For decades, the GOP duped “rubes” into siding with the rich by spinning tales of the supposedly endless corruption of the government, the elites, and minorities. A hugely profitable industry sprang up to profit from reselling those stories in the guise of news, and made “real Americans” angrier and angrier.
As long as GOP leaders could control the messaging, they were able to ride this tiger. But they lost that control. Thanks to the Internet, the rubes were able to talk to each other and compare notes. They still believed the conspiracies they’d already been sold, but now they discovered their own side was screwing them too.
Triggered by the 2008 financial crash, they revolted, with the Tea Party. Then they took over, with Trump. In this brash, crass, regular guy who had succeeded (or so they believed) by beating a crooked system at its own game, they found the perfect expression of that revolt, and its perfect leader.