Back in the 1980s, when many of us were kids, it was easy to know who the good guys and bad guys were. Americans? Good. Russia? Bad. Or to coin the phrase of Ronald Reagan, Russia was “The Evil Empire”.
Today, it seems we have woken up in an alternative universe. Republicans (Republicans!?!) are saying that Russian interference into the election wasn’t that big a deal. The “real” issue is that people are leaking information about all the alleged relationships between Moscow and Trump associates.
Don’t get us wrong, leaking confidential information isn’t right and should be dealt with, but isn’t that kind of like shooting the messenger? Let’s first find out what, if anything, is going on between Team Trump and Vladimir Putin.
March On Texas strongly believes we really need an independent investigation to a) figure out if the Russians worked with anyone from Trump’s team to meddle with our election and b) if it did happen, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Because this isn’t about Hillary Clinton losing the presidency. This is about our long-time enemy messing with our democracy and possibly American citizens helping them! This is something that should absolutely horrify all Americans.
Trump’s bromance relationship with Putin goes beyond just wanting to reset relations with another powerful country. Trump seems to be adopting views that are anti-America and pro-Russia. Like saying NATO is obsolete and picking fights with our allies. Like denying (or not knowing) that Russia invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea. And gushing about how smart and powerful Putin is and his great poll numbers.
Putin is an authoritarian who seemingly has dissenters murdered. If you were a Russian citizen and had a choice of speaking out and getting shot, or telling a pollster that everything was great, you’d probably give him high poll numbers too. But I digress.
OK, wait. Everyone step back, take off your partisan hat and just review some basic facts:
- Per all branches of our intelligence community (CIA, FBI, NSA) the Russians interfered in our election to help Trump win.
- Many Republicans and Democrats want to get to the bottom of this and agree this is something to be united about.
- The FBI said that they have an ongoing investigation not only into Russian interference of the 2016 election, but also into Donald Trump’s campaign associates for possible collusion.
So, let’s look at some of those associates.
- Just 23 days on the job as National Security Advisor, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn resigned (or was he fired?) for speaking with the Russian ambassador about sanctions.
- Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, had to recuse himself after news came out despite saying, “I did not have communications with the Russians,” during his Senate confirmation hearing, he actually spoke with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Twice. And once was a private session in his office during the height of the Russian DNC hacking being in the news.
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager after he became the Republican nominee and through the convention, had to resign in August after it was leaked that a secret ledger revealed millions of dollars paid to him by ousted former pro-Putin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The AP reported that in 2005 he was paid $10+ million by a Russian oligarch to promote Putin’s agenda in politics, business and news in America and Europe. Manafort denies the allegations.
- Trump advisor Carter Page flew to Moscow to give a paid speech that was critical of US foreign policy, and then allegedly had a secret meeting with the president of Russia’s state-owned oil company (which he has denied several times). Yet, when he returned to the Trump campaign in the US, suddenly the language in the Republican platform, which previously supported weapons for Ukrainian resistance against Russia, got watered down. And even though Trump surrogates are saying that they didn’t know about it, why did it come out that Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, approved the trip?
- Longtime Trump friend, Roger Stone not only boasted on Twitter about knowing that Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s email had been hacked, but also knew the timeframe of when they would be posted on WikiLeaks. As if this weren’t bad enough, he actually said he was “delighted” that Guccifer 2.0’s Twitter account was back up and asked the hacker to forward a Breitbart article about the election being rigged. (Stone said the private messaging with the hacker was “innocuous” and denies collusion.)
- It came out this week that Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with an executive of a Russian bank sanctioned by the Obama administration in December. Why is he meeting with sanctioned Russian bankers? And why is this only coming out now?
If all these alleged contacts are innocent, why does it seem like everyone connected with the campaign is trying to cover something up?
Do you remember that dossier written by British spy Christopher Steele that got leaked and was printed by Buzzfeed? I actually read the thing because a) I always wondered what kind of stuff was written in classified reports by spies and, b) I was really curious what kind of dirt the Russians had on Trump. Would a foreign power be able to blackmail the leader of the free world? And to what end?
While US intelligence have not confirmed the accuracy of the dossier, there is a really detailed article by Business Insider showing the timeline of the events outlined in the dossier and how they coincidentally line up with actual events during and after the campaign. Here’s the full article: A timeline of events that unfolded during the election appears to support the FBI’s investigation into Trump and Russia
Trump’s own son said they did a lot of business with Russians. How extensive are those business relationships? How much money was invested and by whom? Since Trump refuses to release his tax returns, like every other president has done for the past forty years, it’s really hard to answer those questions.
And speaking of questions, when congress set up a bipartisan House intelligence investigation to figure out if there was any fire behind all the smoke about alleged links between Trump associates and Moscow, you’d think that would be a good thing, right?
The Senate bipartisan committee seems to be handling it professionally, working together to really get these questions answered. But the House committee?
Why did the Republican chair of that committee (a former advisor to Trump who worked on his transition team), Devin Nunes, share US intelligence reports about possible collusions not first to his own committee members, but President Trump? And isn’t it odd that when former acting attorney general Sally Yates (who was fired by President Trump) was prepared to testify in the congressional hearing, Nunes unexpectedly cancelled the hearing? You agree that’s weird right? Even Republicans are questioning whether Nunes is representing President Trump’s interests or the American people’s.
The more we hear about these unusual actions, the angrier we get, because it really seems like a cover up. Was President Trump and/or his campaign team complicit in Putin’s interference? Did they actively participate in quid-pro-quo? Was this beyond meddling and a modern day act of war? And if so, what are the ramifications?
These are questions that absolutely must get answered by an independent, impartial and bipartisan panel. Senator John McCain and other Republicans are calling for this as well. We need this so we can move forward not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. We need to be united as citizens against our true enemies, not each other.
We need this investigation so we will fully understand, just as we did as kids in the 80’s, who the good and bad guys really are.