Donald Trump learned last week of indictments being handed down by the US Department of Justice confirming what he already knew, namely that Vladimir Putin’s military launched a coordinated cyber-attack on America in 2016. Some of these attacks appear to have taken place within hours of Trump’s direct request for Russia to undertake them.
Trump then stated this past week, publicly, “Putin’s not my enemy.”
Russia, and it’s murderous dictator, Vladimir Putin, are clearly the enemies of the United States. Yet, Trump says Putin isn’t his enemy. Why?
The answer now seems clear: it is because Trump is a Russian asset and the most perfidious traitor to America to have lived within our lifetimes.
As noted by the New York Times (See: Trump Poised to Enter NATO Meeting as Wild Card Among Allies):
“During a phone call with Mr. Putin in March, when the president was urged by aides not to congratulate the Russian president on his electoral victory, Mr. Trump did just that. He told Mr. Putin that Russia and the United States should get along better. And he described as ‘stupid people’ the unnamed Trump administration officials whom the Russian president said had tried to prevent the call from happening, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation.”
It was an astounding moment: the President undermined his own national security team in homage to a dictator leading a known hostile adversary of the United States.
Then this past week, Trump managed to outdo himself. Rod Rosenstein’s and Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election tampering announced criminal indictments of Russia’s military engaging in interference with our election, in the process disclosing amazing investigatory detail of an attack upon America. In response, rather than congratulate Rosenstein on a phenomenal effort to protect America, we witnessed Donald Trump, the White House, the Republican National Committee, and Republican members of Congress calling for Rosenstein’s impeachment and an end to the “Witch Hunt” investigation.
This is high treason.
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one’s government. As was noted this week in The Daily Beast (See: The Way Trump and the GOP Deal with Russian Attacks is ‘Textbook Treason’):
“This is an extraordinary moment. It is without equal not only in American history but in modern history. A hostile foreign power intervened in our election to help elect a man president who has since actively served their interests and has defended them at every turn.”
Trump won’t blame Putin… he just keeps heaping praise upon him, but he has perversely blamed Obama for the Russian attack and, in the same way one would obscenely accuse a rape victim of “deserving it” because of the way they are dressed, he has blamed the Democratic National Committee as well:
Trump calls out the DNC – not the Russians – for attack on 2016 elections. Trump: The RNC “had much better defenses, so they couldn't. I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 15, 2018
Is there any word for blaming your countrymen for an attack on them by hostile foreign soldiers besides "traitorous"?
I don't see how we call Donald Trump anything but a traitor to the United States now. This is a line in the sand every American needs to be on the right side of.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 15, 2018
Congratulations to France, who played extraordinary soccer, on winning the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, congratulations to President Putin and Russia for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament — one of the best ever!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2018
The Republican National Committee responded to Mueller’s indictments by officially calling for the investigation to be immediately ended.
3/ In all relationships—between two people; between a nation and one of its political parties—there can come a moment when something happens that is, in the literal sense, unforgivable. It *can't* be gotten past. The GOP is at the doorstep of ending its relationship with America.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 13, 2018
Why is Donald Trump beholden to, and under undue influence of, Vladimir Putin?
It is likely that in time Mueller’s investigation, if allowed to continue, will shed considerable further light on this topic. But we do already know enough to understand that there are three main overlapping areas that provide Putin with extensive leverage over Trump:
1) Financial. Trump has an established history of being able to con the gullible, but his history as a businessman is littered with failure upon failure. He has left a trail of failed businesses, fraudulent businesses, bankruptcies, and unpaid contractors that is a million miles long and a billion dollars wide. Trump’s solvency today appears to be due to Russia coming to his rescue with hundreds of millions of dollars of highly suspicious loans and investments in his businesses that do not remotely fit established norms for such transactions. It seems likely that such transactions owe their origins to Russian backing and Russian money laundering efforts. It appears likely that Trump owes Putin the shirt on his back. It appears likely that Trump is dependent on Putin’s support for many future business transactions he would like to undertake. See: Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club? along with many other Trump money laundering-related references at the end of this column.
2) Sexual. The Steele Dossier is (per Wikipedia):
“a private intelligence report comprising 17 memos that were written from June to December 2016 by Christopher Steele, a former head of the Russia Desk for British intelligence (MI6). Steele was hired without knowing, or ever having direct contact with, his ultimate clients, and his only instructions were to seek answers to this basic question: “Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?”
“The resulting dossier contains allegations of misconduct and conspiracy between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Government of Russia during the 2016 election cycle, with campaign members and Russian operatives allegedly colluding to interfere in the election to benefit Trump. It also alleged that Russia sought to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, including sharing negative information about Clinton with the Trump campaign.”
On items of a sexual nature, the Dossier specifically noted (per Wikipedia):
“That Trump “hated” Obama so much that when he stayed in the Presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow, he employed “a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him” in order to defile the bed used by the Obamas on an earlier visit. The alleged incident from 2013 was reportedly filmed and recorded by the FSB as kompromat; That Trump was susceptible to blackmail due to paying bribes and the existence of “embarrassing material” due to engagement in “perverted sexual acts” and “unorthodox behavior” in Russia; and That the Kremlin had assured Trump they would not use kompromat collected against him, “given high levels of voluntary co-operation forthcoming from his team.””
While not all the allegations made in the Steele Dossier have been independently substantiated to be true by American intelligence, a great many of them have been verified, lending credibility to the document, while few if any significant allegations have been shown to be false. Again, per Wikipedia:
“On January 11, 2017, Paul Wood, of BBC News, wrote that the salacious information in Steele’s dossier was also reported by “multiple intelligence sources” and “at least one East European intelligence service”. They reported that “compromising material on Mr. Trump” included “more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.” While also mentioning that “nobody should believe something just because an intelligence agent says it”, Wood added that “the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat—or compromising material—on the next US commander in chief” and “a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign”.”
3) Criminal. The Trump-Russia probe is the largest federal criminal probe of the last half-century. At this point, there are probably around 500 major players in an investigation that involves witnesses, documents, financial transactions and events in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and southeast Asia. It involves not only investigation of Russia’s direct meddling into America’s election; it also involves investigation of Trump’s past business and sexual activities that appear to provide Russia with leverage over Trump, and of other criminal activities that might surface in the investigation of such topics, as well as efforts by Trump, and those close to him, to obstruct justice and tamper with evidence and witnesses. As so many of these issues seem to involve interaction by Trump (and those close to him) with Russia, Putin is likely well aware of a broad array of additional criminal acts that Trump does not wish Mueller to become aware of. See: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?
Trump doesn’t quite seem to be a spy in the “Manchurian Candidate” kind of sense. Yet he functions as a Russian asset and he often appears to act as a Russian agent. The best applicable term to describe his role perhaps is “useful idiot,” which typically refers to a Westerner who has been successfully manipulated by Russia to support a cause of whose goals they are not fully informed of, resulting in their manipulation by leaders of the cause. See: Putin’s useful idiots.
The Helsinki Agenda… Or Lack Thereof
Trump and the White House have stated that there is no specific agenda for Trump’s meeting with Putin this week. The meeting takes place only a few weeks after the date of the meeting was determined. This, in itself, is both suspicious and extraordinary. Typically such meetings are planned for months or years and are held to finalize an agreement or accord. In this case, the meeting comes just days after Russian military members were indicted by the US government for an attack on America, yet parts of the meeting are to be held in secret with only Trump and Putin present. As Seth Abramson has noted:
2/ If Trump could state *publicly* his agenda and aims (eg Syria, Iran, nuclear arms, cybersecurity, election security, energy markets) he'd do so. He can't. So we should expect his default Putin topics: a) expanding his and Putin's power, and b) expanding his and Putin's riches.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 14, 2018
And, of course, they will discuss “adoption.” The discussion of “adoption” is, as it has been in the past, a euphemism for the dropping of US sanctions against Russia, apparently without Russia giving up anything significant in return except… allowing the adoption of Russian children by American families.
Will Trump use the summit to discuss Russian interference in the US elections? He almost certainly will. Trump has made it abundantly clear through his actions and inactions that he realizes that he benefited from such interference and that he very much wants it to continue.
Robert Reich summarizes Trump’s and Putin’s motivations and agenda succinctly:
As noted by John Sipher in The Atlantic (See: Why American Spies Worry When Trump Meets Putin):
“It’s almost too easy for Putin. It does not take a trained intelligence officer to exploit Trump’s ego and ignorance. Trump’s vulnerabilities are on frequent public display. He is quick to anger, unable to control his impulses, loyal to no one, easy to flatter, easily influenced but loath to accept advice, a serial bluffer, and fully transparent about his vanity and congenital need for approbation.
This is not a meeting of equals but a summit between a con-man and a man who is easily conned. One orders his opponents killed; the other tweets at his.”
The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick’s classic novel, “The Man in the High Castle,” was published in 1962. It takes place in an “alternative-universe” 1962 America, fifteen years after Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany won World War II and subsequently exercise totalitarian rule over much of the former United States. The book spawned an excellent and thought-provoking TV series, soon to launch its third season, on Amazon Prime Video. It provides a glimpse into what America might look like under an authoritarian regime. Lately, that’s a topic I’ve been thinking quite a bit about.
I’m lucky, indeed quite privileged, to live in a part of America that is spectacularly beautiful and enthralling (See my earlier column: Transforming Your life: Predict The Future By Inventing It!) As I sit in my living room and write this current column, I am blessed to be able to look out my windows upon the butterflies hovering over the rosemary bushes in my rose garden, and I can see the waves in the Pacific Ocean making their way towards shore.
If and when freedom comes to an end in America, and Constitutional rights dissolve, will this change? Will the beach that I run on each morning look any different than this?:
The answer is… no it won’t. Most of our normal, day to day trappings of life will continue unchanged. The sun will still rise each morning. The waves will still kiss the shoreline each day.
But our freedoms that we take for granted will erode and be gone. Our imperfect system of justice will become far worse — It will become based primarily on the needs of the State rather than upon notions such as truth, justice and the differences between right and wrong. The wealthy and politically well-connected, who already have preferential treatment by our justice system, will effectively have full control over our justice system.
Those who are marginalized, or who challenge the authority of the State, will fare the worst. America will no longer strive to be a land of opportunity and justice for all. I’ll know each day that because I use my voice to speak out against the State, that I will lose protection and be subject to retaliation in ways, large and small, that are utterly arbitrary and potentially violent.
What else might happen? I know it sounds farfetched, but children could start getting separated from their parents and put into detainment centers without any plans to reunite them. Immigrants seeking asylum might get locked up, while bankers and polluters engaging in criminal acts might get a free pass. Election tampering could become the expected norm and our government might do nothing to stop it. Science could stop being used to make policy decisions on science-related topics. Politicians using their elected office to enrich themselves and their families could become something that is normalized, rather than something that is prosecuted. The power of the Presidential pardon could start getting used in corrupt ways rather than to bestow mercy on those deserving. The government could start lying to us, about matters large and small, on a continuous, ongoing and persistent basis. The government might engage in an ongoing stream of assaults aimed at discrediting and inhibiting the free press, and labeling it as an enemy of the people. We could witness active efforts by the government to embrace those with racist and white nationalistic agendas. The administration might engage in ongoing efforts to discredit the FBI and the Department of Justice when law enforcement challenges its authoritarian agenda.
Oh, wait a minute… As Yogi Berra would say… “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
And as Peter Daou correctly pointed out more than a year ago…
13. The proverbial sh*t is hitting the fan EVERY SINGLE DAY and the damage is being done. It will be exceptionally hard to undo.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 11, 2017
It is truly a dark time in the United States. The Republican Party is now so terminally ill and corrupt that it must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt. (See: I left the Republican Party. Now I want Democrats to take over.)
The situation is frustrating, and despair and anger are normal reactions. It is so obviously surreal and wrongful that it seems like there should be a way for someone to just snap their fingers and fix it, but the fact is, there isn’t a quick solution. No one person can fix it who is willing to fix it, but if we don’t give up hope, a collective effort by millions of people can make a real difference.
Friday’s indictments put great pressure on Trump and his agents to commit further acts of treason. Republican Congressional Representative Jim Jordan is apparently working on Articles of Impeachment that may potentially be brought against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week. Rosenstein provides oversight to the Mueller probe for the Department of Justice, and he is in fact a Republican Trump political appointee who has done many things right, and nothing wrong.
Such an act of attempted impeachment, undertaken for corrupt purposes, would effectively be an attempted coup against the United States Department of Justice. Trump and his agents may try to act fast as Trump is aware that indictments may soon be issued against his staff and family members. And in their meeting this week, Putin will put additional pressure on Trump to do anything necessary to bring the investigation to an end. Putin doesn’t want to lose his goose that keeps laying the golden eggs.
Trump and Putin will be aided and abetted not only by politicians who have betrayed America, but also by some of our friends, acquaintances, and business colleagues in our social network who are so loyal to Trump that they have decided to use forums like Facebook and Twitter to support treason against America as well. (See my earlier column: Patterns of Force – Realizing Which of our Friends Would Have Supported Hitler.)
Some of these people will hide behind the American flag and pretend to be Patriots. They are not. (See my earlier column: Patriotism, Independence Day and The American Flag.)
Know who they are, and never forget how they have betrayed America.
It was encouraging to see the estimated 250,000 people who turned out last week in London to protest Trump’s visit. (See: A Very British Protest and Trump in Britain: London demonstrators come out in force against U.S. president.)
Yet this recent Facebook comment by Veryle Rupp highlights the fact that we in America have not yet fully awoken to dealing with Trump in the way that is necessary to effect true and immediate change:
We would expect protests in America to be much larger than the one in London… but they are not… it still feels like much of America is asleep. If Trump or the GOP do move to engage in a coup to try to fire Rosenstein or Mueller, the appropriate response will be for hundreds of thousands if not millions to take to the streets in Washington DC and other major cities and not stop until their voice is heard. Whether or not America is up to that challenge remains to be seen.
The near term focus also needs to be on getting people registered and out to vote in the November election and assuring that representatives are supported and elected who will work as expeditiously as possible to remove Trump from office, and to remove Republican majority control from the House and Senate.
I was thrilled to see this recent post from some friends in Texas who spent this past weekend canvassing to make sure Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not reelected this November:
Cruz is among the worst of the worst in American politics. Given the ridiculous lies and indignities Trump hurled at Cruz during the 2016 presidential election primaries, one would think Cruz would among those supporting Trump’s removal from office, but instead he has turned out to be a staunch backer of Trump’s never ending string of horrors. Texas is a strongly Republican state, but Cruz is himself so vile that it is possible for him to be defeated.
If you live in a state or district that Republicans have a credible chance of electing a Trump-supporting House or Senate representative this November, I encourage you to do what Nellie and Jeremiah did this past weekend and get out and canvas for votes for candidates who will not support Trump’s illiberal agenda.
As discouraging as it is at times, and despite the fact that it will very likely get worse before it gets better, it is critically important to not give up. Those in favor of authoritarianism are counting on wearing you out. Taking a brief break from everything on occasion to recharge is okay… we all need to do that. But don’t ever give up and stop resisting.
This video from Rob Reich describes 6 things you can do:
You might also find it worthwhile to join these groups and heed their calls to action when help is needed:
Your local #Resist group on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/pro/resist/
Need To Impeach: https://www.needtoimpeach.com
Our Projection President
When someone defends themselves against their own unpleasant actions and impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others, it is a gaslighting technique psychologists call “projection.” This past week Trump used projection to claim that it is Germany, rather than himself, that is under undue influence from Russia. I leave you with this wonderful clip from a German newscast covering his astounding statement:
New York Magazine: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?
New Republic: Trump’s Russian Laundromat
New York Magazine: I’m a Peeliever and You Should Be, Too
The Daily Beast: Trump Locks Up Immigrant Kids, but Not Bankers or Polluters
The Washington Post: If this is a ‘witch hunt,’ it sure is finding a lot of witches
The Atlantic: The Self-Inflicted Demise of American Power
The Washington Post: NATO is based on credibility and trust. Trump has struck a blow against both.
The Atlantic: Trump’s Betrayal of Britain
New York Magazine: Trump Is Training His Base to Hate NATO and Like Putin
The Washington Post: President Trump has never been in more trouble than right now
Vanity Fair: Is This The Secret Deal Putin Will Offer Trump?
The Washington Post: House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump
The Washington Post: George Will: Vote against the GOP this November
The Washington Post: I left the Republican Party. Now I want Democrats to take over.
The Washington Post: Putin’s useful idiots
The Chicago Tribune: Donald Trump’s biggest flaw: He’s not that bright
The Atlantic: A Very British Protest
The Atlantic: Why American Spies Worry When Trump Meets Putin
The New York Times: Trump Poised to Enter NATO Meeting as Wild Card Among Allies
Latest posts by Cliff Kurtzman (see all)
- I’m Not Buying It - July 31, 2018
- Now That The Whole World Knows He’s Putin’s Bitch, What’s Next? - July 23, 2018
- The Man in the High Castle: Trump has committed high treason. Next he meets with his handler, Vladimir Putin. - July 15, 2018