Early this morning, while he was preparing to meet the ex-KGB operative who masterminded the invasion of America’s electoral system, Donald Trump tweeted that our relations with Russia are terrible because of “the Rigged Witch Hunt!” And later, in Vladimir Putin’s presence, he trashed Robert Mueller’s probe and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Gee. It looks like Mueller’s meticulously specific indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents didn’t penetrate Trump’s thick skull. Stay tuned, later in this piece, for the Founding Fathers’ definition of treason.
Some of you may be old enough to remember the 1988 presidential campaign, when Republicans called Michael Dukakis a national security wimp because they thought he looked funny riding in a military tank. Yet here they are now, 30 years later, aiding and abetting a poster child for weakness, a fake leader who’s blithely ignoring the most treacherous attack by a foreign government since Pearl Harbor. We are at a perilous moment without equal in the history of this nation, and Trump, for reasons we have yet to fully learn, is demonstrably incapable of confronting it.
Fortunately, some Republicans have refused to join the personality cult. The next time you hear Trump cultists complain that “liberals” are trying to undercut their icon, simply quote some of these people:
Rick Tyler, a former Ted Cruz and Newt Gingrich spokesman, frames the moment perfectly: “Trump has put Putin, who is in reality in a very weak position, into a very strong position while putting the United States (which) was in a very strong position into an incredibly weak position. Some negotiator!”
And ’16 presidential candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer and House GOP policy director, says this better than I can: “Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin today is an encounter between a hostile Russian autocrat and an American head of state who he sponsors and over whom he wields significant influence. This is not a relationship that serves the American interest in any way.”
What’s arguably most disgraceful is Trump’s refusal to muster even a scintilla of outrage in the wake of Mueller’s latest findings.
Friday’s indictment document reads like a far-fetched summer beach novel. But with powerful substantiation, we now know that Putin’s military intelligence service assaulted our democracy on Trump’s behalf, hacking “into the computers of U.S. persons and entities responsible for the administration of 2016 U.S. elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of U.S. elections.” Among other alleged crimes listed in the indictment, they “stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and drivers’ license numbers.” And they communicated with an unnamed Trump intermediary, a “person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”
Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney in western Pennsylvania, says: “The only right-thinking (presidential) response is to acknowledge the enormous seriousness of the charges and take all measures to keep this from recurring.” But Trump doesn’t acknowledge it, nor does he show any interest in preventing new Russian invasions in 2018 or 2020. Friday’s official White House response to the Mueller indictments pointed out that no Americans were named in the indictments (um, what about future indictments?), but it failed to condemn Russia’s actions or call for any preventive electoral measures.
Trump was reportedly briefed last Monday, prior to his foreign trip, about the impending Mueller indictments – and yet, this is his subsequent behavior: He trashed our western allies and the NATO alliance that has helped keep the peace for 70 years (Putin has long sought to weaken NATO); he again called journalists “the enemy of the people” (Putin kills journalists); he said that the European Union is our “foe” (Putin has long sought to weaken the EU), he called Mueller’s probe a “Rigged Witch Hunt!,” (today’s tweet; Russia’s foreign ministry approvingly retweeted it), and he flattered Putin for staging a “beautiful” soccer tournament.
Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, a Trump appointee and former Republican senator, took it upon himself to clang the alarm on Friday: “These (Russian) actions are persistent, they’re pervasive and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy on a daily basis, regardless of whether it is election time or not. The warning signs are there. The system is blinking. And it is why I believe we are at a critical point. Here we are, nearly two decades (after 9/11), and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.” Yet, even now, Trump says and does nothing to defend this country.
We were indeed warned – Hillary Clinton in the final presidential debate, on Oct. 19, 2016. Addressing her opponent directly, she stated the obvious: “(Putin) would rather have a puppet as president of the United States…It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him…So I think that this is such an unprecedented situation.”
What a shame that 80,000 pivotal voters in three states didn’t want to hear the truth, or didn’t like her gender or her voice or her emails, or whatever. But as we stagger toward the ’18 midterms and the next presidential election, likely armed with even more indictment evidence from the Mueller investigation, we may need to heed the Founding Fathers. Presumably they are still regarded as non-partisan. Here’s a passage from Article III of the U.S. Constitution (the italics are mine):
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”