On Trump and Russia
President Trump’s remarks regarding Russia as a candidate for President of the United States should have alarmed Americans regardless of party. Candidate Trump went out of his way to praise Vladimir Putin’s Russia, while simultaneously belittling the President of the United States. When Donald Trump was not questioning Barack Obama’s American birthright in absurd conspiracy theories, he was praising the Russian president for his strength, leadership, and outsmarting President Obama. Trump seemed oblivious to the fact that President Obama worked within a system where his power has limitations, Vladimir Putin does not face nearly the limits to power that an American president has. Trump repeatedly as a candidate talked about his desire that the United States and Russia should be friends. Simultaneously, however, he insulted allies such as Mexico by accusing our neighbor to the south of sending rapists and murderers to the United States and called NATO obsolete. Trump’s praise of Russia was not limited to his words on the campaign trail and on Twitter but also his campaign associates. Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s second campaign manager following the firing of Corey Lewandowski had been a lobbyist for deposed Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, a key Putin ally. And of course, General Michael Flynn, who in December 2015 attended a gala in Moscow in honor of Russia Today.
General Flynn was a constant presence at Trump campaign events. The General was even quoted as saying that if he had done a tenth of what Hillary Clinton had done, he would be in jail and the General led a “Lock Her Up” at the Republican National Convention last summer in Cleveland. Trump valued Flynn so much that the general was even on Trump’s list for Vice President and following the election rumored for Secretary of Defense. Trump would eventually make Flynn his National Security Adviser, a position notably not subject to approval by the Senate of the United States. Trump eventually chose Indiana Governor, Mike Pence but Flynn remained an integral part of the campaign and Trump continued to praise Russia on Twitter and on the campaign trail. At one point, he even admonished Hillary Clinton for criticizing Vladimir Putin and even denied that Putin’s forces had been in Ukraine (unaware that Putin’s forces had invaded Crimea which has been Ukrainian land following Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union. So we have to ask ourselves is it a real surprise that it has emerged that people inside the Trump campaign had contacts with the Russian government and allegedly colluded with them to help the Russians hack into the Democratic Party’s emails and to spread misinformation about Hillary Clinton. It was well documented that Vladimir Putin detested Hillary Clinton and wanted to do anything possible to prevent her election as the next President of the United States.
When President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week, at first President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tried dishonestly to assert that the Director’s firing was related to how Comey conducted the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. This frankly was insulting to the American people who had seen Trump agree with Comey’s admonishment of the former Secretary of State, when he opted not to bring charges but still scolded her for what he deemed was risky behavior. And of course, the fact that Comey’s firing came suddenly and four months after the President took the oath of office signified that the director’s firing had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation but in fact the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
President Trump eventually more or less admitted that the firing of Comey was because he did not like how the investigation into his campaign was faring. The firing immediately invoked comparisons to President Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox in 1973. However, arguably the firing of Comey was arguably far grievous than that of Cox; Cox was only in charge of investigating Nixon. Comey was in charge of the entire FBI. The President raised suspicions even more when he held a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador that was not open to the American press but the Russian press. The photos revealed showed President Trump cordial with the Russians. It was also recently revealed and the White House does not dispute that he told the Russians that he had to get rid of Comey because Comey was getting too close in the investigation and he was crazy and a self-promoter. It has also been revealed that the President asked Comey to take it easy on Michael Flynn and asked for Comey’s loyalty to him during a meeting the President had with the FBI Director.
It is my opinion that the Trump campaign’s alleged involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election hacking and spread of misinformation is one of the greatest political scandals in American political history. What should trouble Americans is that the evidence has been there from the start. Candidate Donald Trump went out of his way to praise Vladimir Putin’s Russia, while insulting long standing allies of the United States such as Angela Merkel’s Germany, Mexico, and showing ignorance by celebrating Great Britain’s departure from the EU. His campaign and he himself are heavily linked to Russia. President Trump’s contempt for the American system of governance should disgust every American regardless of their political persuasion. When a President shows a desire to curry favor with a hostile foreign power, that through misinformation attempted to swing the election in his favor, we should be alarmed. The appointment of Robert Mueller as a special investigator for this scandal is only the beginning and we should trust that Mr. Mueller, a respected professional who has served in administrations of both parties will do the nation proud and get to the truth. The truth, the very thing that has eluded President Trump’s mouth since he first announced his run for President two years ago.