There was a time when being friendly with communist Russia would have brought on charges of something akin to treason. Although communism itself has waned, Russia remains a repressive socialist state run by a dictator determined to regain the power lost in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and yet Putin and our President are chums.
Some of our young people may not understand the impact of their bro-mance. Communist Russia/Soviet Union was one of the two large aggressive national powers pushing communist ideology and trying to destroy Democracy. Over time, communism weakened, the Soviet Union dismantled, and in 1991 Boris Yeltsin took over as President of Russia.
Yeltsin wanted to transform Russia’s socialist economy into a capitalist market economy and to privatize industry once controlled by the state. Unfortunately he did not achieve most of his goals at least partially due to the corruption of Russian oligarchs who multiplied their wealth in all the upheaval. In 1999 Yeltsin turned the government over to his chosen heir, Vladimir Putin. Years later, Yeltsin was to sadly admit it was the biggest mistake of his life.
Vladimir Putin was a former KGB officer, inured to dirty tricks and violence (a habit that analysts believe he has continued as President in order to quiet his opponents). Putin has done nothing to end the corruption by the oligarchs but takes a part of the action. While Russia seems to have national elections, Putin makes certain that any strong opponent is disqualified or disappears. When he hit term limits, he put his puppet in the Presidency until he could legally hold the office again. He is a dictator in every sense of the word, with an intention of bringing the former Soviet countries back in the fold, by violence if necessary.
Putin wants HIS Russia to be the strongest world power, and weakening the United States and other democracies is part of the plan. His active propaganda campaign in our 2016 election may or may not have skewed our national elections, but if the Republican candidate Donald Trump colluded with, cooperated with the Russians in order to get elected and/or has continued to work surreptitiously with them President to maintain power, then this is horrifying. Whether or not these actions rise to the narrow definition of treason, if proven true there are other remedies.
None of us know the full story; we will know more once the Mueller investigation is complete, but we know enough to be concerned. Here is at best an incomplete list of clues that should frighten us all:
- Trump included in his campaign and in his White House a number of people with known Russian ties – like Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn and others.
- Trump himself, as well as sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have extensive business ties with Russians, which they have denied or downplayed.
- Outside of business connections, there were several contacts between Trump, Don Jr. , Kushner, AG Jeff Sessions, and others with Russian operatives at various times during the campaign and/or after inauguration.
- Trump has spoken glowingly of his regard for the strong-arm tactics of Putin; he has had numerous contacts with Putin by phone and in person since inauguration; and he has met with other Russians.
- In meetings with the Russians, Trump ignores safety protocols by shutting out the State Department and the press. Americans only learn of the meetings when our press transcribes Russian news accounts.
- After CIA and FBI warnings, the FBI began an investigation of Russian 2016 interference, possible collusion, and the activities of Michael Flynn. Because of his Russia and Trump campaign-connections, AG Jeff Sessions recused himself and Rod Rosenstein assigned to manage the process.
- Trump tried to shut down the FBI investigation; asked FBI Director Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn; asked for a pledge of allegiance. Getting none of this Trump fired Comey then told several conflicting stories of why.
- Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as independent counsel to continue the Russia investigation. Mueller has already gotten indictments and/or cooperation from Manafort, Gates, Flynn and Papadopoulos.
- Trump threatened to fire Muller and lobbied various political supporters to stop Mueller. He forced out most of the FBI senior management, threatened to fire Sessions, is now aiming at Rosenstein, asking him for allegiance.
- House Intel Chair Devin Nunes is a Trump supporter. He assisted Trump in a charade to reveal White House propaganda dressed up as discovery and just released an uncorroborated attack document on the FBI FISA process.
- This past week we learned that Russian Spy Chiefs came to meet with the State Department and CIA – another meeting not reported to the U.S. press and discovered only through Russian news releases.
- Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia for its 2016 interference and on countries doing significant business with Russia; Trump refuses to implement the new sanctions.
- As we near 2018 mid-term elections, Trump has not mandated actions to protect us against continued Russian interference in our elections. His effort has focused on shutting down investigation into the 2016 elections.
This list is not complete and new examples of improper or ill-advised or illegal actions seem to arise weekly if not daily. Citizens need to understand this is not normal – to have our top government officials cozying up to a dictator while systematically weakening and/or dismantling our FBI and Justice Departments. Back when the U.S. seemed to more clearly understand the Russian threat, these actions would have been cause to remove the President.
— Jonnie Martin