Donald Trump’s positions are in Russia’s interests, not American interests. If you were Vladimir Putin and you were trying to rebuild the Russian (Soviet) empire, my friend Bruce Johnson and I have figured out,
- You would want a US president to disparage NATO and not defend the Baltic states and Eastern Europe from Russian attack or annexation.
- You would want a US president to abandon Muslim allies and declare war against Islam, so Russia could develop relationships and do financial deals with Muslim countries.
- You would want a US president to create deep tensions between US and Mexico and a hostile border between them, so the border would have to be militarized and North America would be dis-united. Or, as Bruce describes, a US and Mexico “with their armed forces in a state of perpetual lockdown as, each fearing invasion by the other.”
- Moreover, you’d want a US president to destroy free trade not only between the US and Mexico but between the US and other countries, so that a free-trading Russia can replace the USA as a major trading nation, because the US would be subject to retaliatory tariffs worldwide.
- You’d want a corrupted US election, loss of confidence in American democracy, so you could say there is no difference between US and Russian democracy. You would want a deeply divided, weakened America. As Bruce says, “You’d want to normalize the idea of lack of civil liberties and of fixed elections. Putin could say, ‘We Russians are no different from Poland or France or Hungary or Turkey or China or the USA.’ “
- You’d want a US president you could bribe through sweetheart business deals with Russian oligarchs (friends of Putin), a president who refuses to disclose his tax returns or financial records to the American people, who thinks it’s ok for you to intervene in US elections, and who dismisses warnings and reports by the US intelligence community, and whose aides and advisors have had financial interests in Russia or with Russian oligarchs.
Putin clearly won the US election, and shockingly, most Republicans say they prefer Putin to Obama and Clinton. So much for politics ending at the water’s edge.
Was there a quid pro quo in advance? Did Putin and Trump or their aides communicate in advance of the election? The bargain would go something like this:
Putin or his representatives would persuade Trump to reduce US backing for NATO or better yet, abandon NATO, as it is an unnecessary financial burden for America because Russian and American oligarchs are such good friends now. They would advise him to get tough with Mexico, crack down on free trade, put the stiff to Muslim allies, and he would agree. We like you, we want to help you get elected, the Russians say. If this is your platform, we will help you win the election by doing some things electronically (wink wink) that might not be legal in the US “but everybody knows everybody does it, there are no ethical rules in politics.” And we will do financial deals with your company, so you or your children will get a big dividend.
Congress must thoroughly investigate. But will Republicans have the independence and integrity to demand the release of Trump’s tax returns, demand that Steve Bannon and other aides release their tax returns and financial dealings with Russia? Will they challenge a Republican president? Doubtful.
This theory may sound crazy and conspiratorial, but no less than conservative columnists George Will and Kathleen Parker advanced it before I did. Will suggested in the summer of 2016 that Trump does not release his taxes because he is entangled with Russia financially, taking money that causes him to advocate for Russian interests rather than American interests. Parker asks if Trump is a Russian spy.
Senator John McCain calls Russian cyber-meddling in the election “an act of war.” At least he has some principles. You don’t have to threaten nuclear war with Russia to be deeply disturbed by what is going on. As we learned during Watergate, follow the money. Follow the trail where it leads. In 1973-4, Congress acted in a bipartisan fashion when it investigated Nixon, and did its duty to the Republic. Will this Republican Congress rise to the occasion?
I posted this to Twitter and Facebook, and comments are starting to come in from some smart people who have different points of view.
- Trump Chooses to Ignore History of Intrigue, at Nation’s Peril, by Jim Moore, Huffington Post contributor. He suggests reading the Federalist Papers to learn of the early threats to our republic. Alexander Hamilton offered the first intelligence briefing.
- Trump Invites Accusation of Treason (Boston Globe): “The president-elect is inviting an interpretation that his behavior is treasonous. The federal crime of treason is committed by a person “owing allegiance to the United States who . . . adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort,” and misprision of treason is committed by a person “having knowledge of the commission of any treason [who] conceals and does not disclose” the crime. By denigrating or seeking to prevent an investigation of the Russian cyberattack Trump is giving aid or comfort to an enemy of the United States, a crime that is enhanced if the fourth explanation applies — that he is in fact seeking to cover up his staff’s or his own involvement in or prior knowledge of the attack.”
- A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump (Rolling Stone, by David Corn, Oct. 31, 2016)
- The Trump Dossier: What We Know and Don’t Know (NYT)
- Unverified allegations against Trump from MI5 investigator’s research.
- Trial Balloon for a Coup, by Yonatan Zunger. “The much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission. Conclusive? No. But it raises some very interesting questions for journalists to investigate.”
- Court orders are being ignored.
“That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored. Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.”