Don’t Talk About Russian Meddling
Don’t talk about Russian meddling in our elections. That was the essence of the warning Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney gave then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen earlier this year before her meeting with the President. Several news sources reported Mulvaney told her it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”
Of course, today we all know the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In a public hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018, all U.S. intelligence chiefs acknowledged its existence and warned it would continue unless a concerted effort was made to stop it. If anyone doubted their conclusion’s validity, the Mueller Report documented its pervasiveness in the 2016 election.
Trump and the Mueller Report
Under normal circumstances such factual conclusions would have prompted a significant response from the United States President. It would be all hands-on deck to coordinate efforts to prevent Russian (or any country’s) meddling from recurring. But these are not normal circumstances. The Mueller Report was clear in identifying Donald Trump as the designated beneficiary of that meddling.
That was too much to bear for Trump with his paper-thin ability to handle any negative commentary. He could not and cannot accept any criticism, let alone something that suggests his presidency is illegitimate. So, he simply ignores it and tells us he believes Vladimir Putin’s denials of meddling.
The foregoing analysis is the most generous to Trump’s response to Russian meddling. While he certainly cannot tolerate criticism and would not accept anything suggesting his presidency is illegitimate, I believe his motives are deeper and more precarious to this country. In short, I believe he has certain ties with Russia that might prove to be criminal (money laundering), financially precarious (funding for certain projects held by Russian investors), or politically embarrassing such as business or other dealings he has steadfastly denied. Then again, perhaps he is not the billionaire he claims to be. Trump’s tax returns could provide necessary information to resolve these issues, but he refuses to reveal them.
Perhaps there may be some conjecture on the reason for Trump’s refusal to deal with or even acknowledge Russian meddling. But there is no ambiguity of that refusal’s negative impact on the security of the United States.
Trump and Russia
Russia is a major adversary. It will not stop doing everything in its power to damage the United States and its Western allies. Using social media, it spreads false and divisive information exacerbating racial, religious and partisan tensions. Like its predecessor, the Soviet Union, it uses its military or proxies to gain control of parts of other countries such as in Crimea or Eastern Ukraine. And who is at the forefront of looking aside of this aggressiveness? None other than Donald Trump.
Threats to national Security
Russian meddling in our elections—and the possibility of other countries as well—are threats to our democracy and security. Sadly, they are not the only threats that Trump has laid at our doorstep. He has gone out of his way to destabilize NATO and its individual member states, disrupt trade alliances with allies and others, and abrogate treaties. Despite warnings from his intelligence chiefs, he has not only failed to recognize the dangers of environmental degradation and climate change, he has initiated policies to undo prior administration regulations imposed to minimize such threats.
One of the news sources cited above was ABC News and its recently published report outlining how the since deposed Director of Homeland Security sought to have a cabinet level meeting to discuss Russian meddling and the election threat after the 2018 mid-term elections. Trump refused. Yet security officials acknowledge the threat for 2020 is still great and conceivably could also include China, North Korea, Iran and others. All believe the President must be involved. But he remains on the sideline.
Then there is his fantasy of his special relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Who can forget his fanciful boast after the first summit meeting? “ . . . everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” It is just as ridiculous today as it was then. But dangerously, that summit revealed what a terrible negotiator this supposed Art of the Deal specialist really is. It demonstrated how easily Trump can be played by anyone.
The Republican Party
In years gone by the Republican Party proudly claimed the mantle of true patriots, defender of the United States, its Constitution and laws. This President has radically changed some long held Republican conservative beliefs on alliances, trade, and financial discipline. Even worse, as the Mueller Report revealed, he has made a mockery of U.S. laws, customs and values. Yet Republicans, with few exception, continue to support him and not call him out for his actions.
The security of the United States is a very high price to pay for tax cuts and judges.