Russia Monitor: Sen. Ron Johnson Joins Russpublican Pals For Home Office Visit

Wisconsin’s Own Senator Babushka

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/9/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

If you live in Wisconsin, where did your Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) spend his July 4th celebration of American Independence Day? Daily Kos columnist Kerry Eleved posed the question for the day: What On Earth Compelled 8 GOP Lawmakers To Flee America For Moscow On July 4?

Optics, schmoptics, the entire enterprise is atrocious. No Democrats invited. No U.S. media – which is now the pattern in Trump-Putin Russpublican get-togethers.

The optics are atrocious: Eight top lawmakers of the American political party now in sole control of Congress running off to Moscow to meet with Russian officials on Independence Day for no urgent reason other than to seek “a better relationship.” In essence, it’s a political gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a black eye for America delivered by Republican lawmakers. Let’s remember these GOP names:

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)

Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)

How is this meeting, on July 4th by choice, not a Trump/Russpublican capitulation to Putin? Ron Johnson and the seven other GOP lawmakers are like the servile dog that rolls over on it’s back when in the presence of its alpha peers. Russians mocked the servile U.S. contingent.

“As former CIA chief John Brennan told Nicolle Wallace Thursday on MSNBC: “It is very scary.” 

““The comment of the Russian official that this is ‘one of the easiest’ ones in memory,” Brennan noted, “have we forgotten what the Russians did in the 2016 election? Have we forgotten what the Russians did in Crimea? I’m all for an improvement of relations between Moscow and Washington, but it’s on whose terms and how are we going to do that?””

Eleveld could only surmise:

“They either did that because Putin has some kind of leverage or because they decided that selling out America in support of Donald Trump was indeed worth putting their reputations and our country’s national security on the line.”

Before we jump ahead, let’s take a look at the early feedback from our Senator Johnson, any bets on how he’ll represent delivering the ‘white flag’ of appeasement to Putin? You were probably right:

Johnson said it was time to “evaluate” whether to lift US sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, saying they have failed to change Moscow’s behavior and cut US businesses out of Russian deals.”

Here’s more on the gleeful, mocking reactions by Russians. Servile dogs are more often scorned than rewarded: Russian Officials & State Media Mock ‘weak’ GOP Senators After Moscow Visit.

We’ve reported on the blatant claims by Russian state media with their ‘ownership’ of Trump, but now his Russpublican delegation:

“Russian broadcasters mocked the Republican lawmakers who visited Moscow over the Fourth of July holiday and gloated about the Kremlin’s role in electing President Donald Trump….

““What trouble did we cause?” one Russian TV analyst said last week, before the senators arrived. “We just elected Trump, that’s all.””

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) assured us through Fox News, “We sent a very strong message and a direct message to the Russian government.

But credit to the Russians, their explanation rings true, “you came because you needed to”:

“Russian broadcasters mocked the Republican lawmakers as “weak,” saying their tough talk changed after arriving in Moscow.

““We need to look down at them and say: You came because you needed to, not because we did,” said Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko on state-run television.

“Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov said the meeting with the Republican lawmakers was “one of the easiest ones in my life.””

So how was the U.S. lawmakers trip viewed by their constituentsRepublicans On Russia Trip Face Scorn & Ridicule From Critics At Home.

We saw above how gleeful Russians were with the Russpublican surrender tour, but:

“It played well in Moscow, but not on the home front.

““Politicians celebrate Independence Day in many ways. Some march in a parade. Some attend a barbecue or watch fireworks,” tweeted Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration who is running for the Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat. “But others must travel further to meet with their most important constituents.”

“The senators who posted Fourth of July messages on social media while still in Moscow took some of the sharpest criticism, some of which highlighted that while they met with Kremlin-connected officials, Britain discovered that two of its citizens had been poisoned by a suspected Russian nerve agent, the same substance that injured a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in March.

“Others pointed out that while the delegation was in Russia, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report finding Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election with a clear preference for helping Trump …”

Daines was so ‘proud’ of his July 4th ‘celebration in Moscow that he tweeted his celebration message with the missus posing in front of the U.S. Capitol.

One would almost think he was in the U.S., not Moscow. Certainly that wasn’t deliberate? As if Russpublicans count on us not paying attention?

The ultra conservative think-tank The Heritage Group offered this view ahead of Trump’s Trump-Putin bromantic tete-a-tete.

FollowFollow @Heritage


Things to remember before @realDonaldTrump travels to Europe: -Russia is the aggressor—Ukraine is the victim -Crimea belongs to Ukraine -NATO & US troops in Europe serve our national interests -Europeans must spend more on defense -Putin’s track record shows he can’t be trusted

9:04 AM – 5 Jul 2018

ACTION STEP: How about calling Sen. “Babushka” Johnson’s office and letting him know what you think of the embarrassing Russpublican July 4th pilgrimage to the party’s Moscow home office?

Call Sen. “Babushka’s” Washington Office: (800) 224-5323


“Art Of The Spiel”

But what about Art of the Deal? What about Trump’s other foreign policy initiatives, what about Trump’s Noble Peace Prize? More like Art of the Spiel: North Korea Criticizes ‘Gangster-Like’ U.S. Attitude After Talks With Mike Pompeo.

The cheap headlines that lacked any real diplomatic initiative don’t seem to hold up to the test of time – time being one month or from one meeting to the next.

“North Korea accused the Trump administration on Saturday of pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization” and called it “deeply regrettable,” hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his two days of talks in the North Korean capital were “productive.””

But certainly Trump’s upcoming NATO summit and Putin tete-a-tete will produce different results, we’ll come to our senses and collaborate with our allies that have supported us as we’ve supported them over the long decades? Right? We’ll be appropriately tough on Russia given their recent attacks. Right? Um, may not: Ahead Of NATO & Putin Summits, Trump’s Unorthodox Diplomacy Rattles Allies.

Not likely. Trump will have Starburst candy to throw at Merkel and kisses for Putin and everyone knows it.

“President Trump will land in Europe next week amid fears that he will blow up a key summit focused on Europe’s defense and then offer concessions to NATO’s main adversary, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The allies’ worries and Moscow’s hopes are rooted in Trump’s combative approach to foreign policy. In recent days, Trump has told senior aides that he wants to slash U.S. spending on Europe’s defense if the allies are unwilling to contribute more to NATO, a senior administration official said.”

As reported in The New Yorker, there is no one left to rein in Trump or soften his worst impulses, if there ever was: 

“This Trump Unchained era is merely proof that no aide, not even a brusque Marine general with a chest full of medals, is going to bring order to a President determined to have his own way. It’s now clear that Trump is making major decisions without even a nod to the process and order that Kelly was supposedly bringing to his office; no one pretends that major moves, such as the risky nuclear summit with North Korea or recent conflicts with Congress over immigration and the budget, are the result of anything other than the President’s own spur-of-the-moment strategizing. At the same time, Trump has systematically undermined Kelly’s authority, telling both his new national-security adviser, John Bolton, and his chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, that they should report to him directly, not to Kelly. White House officials have also confirmed to reporters that many of the visible signs of Kelly’s authority—such as controlling access to Trump and the list of callers who can be put through to the President—are no more. Trump has, at times, gone to extreme lengths to get around his chief of staff, such as by conducting government business on his unsecured personal cell phone to avoid Kelly’s rules. (“An example,” CNN reported, of Kelly’s “waning influence.”) When I interviewed an outside Trump adviser whom the President consulted on a pressing national-security issue, the Republican told me a similar story: Trump, he recounted, had called him on a personal cell phone. When the adviser learned that the call wasn’t on a secure line, he warned Trump not to tell him what he was planning, but simply to listen. The President, who made so much of Hillary Clinton’s sloppy handling of confidential communications, was now apparently so eager to get around his own chief of staff that he was willing to take such risks.”

But her emails! Yes, Trump even resorts to non-secure use of his personal cell phone to conduct foreign policy to avoid his own staff and cabinet. No tears for Kelly. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general and former Secretary of Homeland Security – Trump has helped us see Kelly’s own lack or respect for humanity while showing him to be ineffectual and self-abasing, the end result of anyone who gets close to Trump.

So what might Trump-Putin seek to accomplish in Helsinki in their cozy private meeting? Potsdam II: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet to divide Europe.

Trump has already signaled his concessions to Putin: readmission to the G-8, acquiescence in Russia’s favor over annexation of Crimea – real concessions in exchange for a Putin pat on the head and real chaos for Western democracies.

“As the European Council president Donald Tusk stated earlier this month, the interest of western liberal democracy is of maintaining governments based on rule of law against those in which everything is determined by “brute force and egoism.” Those democracies represent the hope that “chaos, violence and arrogance will not triumph.”

“But egoism, chaos, and arrogance might as well be tattooed to Trump’s forehead. And if the violence has so far been limited, there are very good reasons to fear that will not remain true.”


We’ll wrap up with a few noteworthy stories.

On the Trump Pals front, there is this: Manafort Kept In Solitary 23 Hours A Day To ‘Guarantee His Safety,’ Lawyer Says.

Wait, former Trump campaign manager now held in solitary confinement in advance of his trial is for his own safety? From who?

Maybe consider this… Leading Putin critic was found strangled to death at his London home on the day he was due in court to fight an £87m legal case against Russian state-run airline Aeroflot.

Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was part of a tight circle of Russian ex-pats that are/were Putin critics. He is the third of this tight circle that were either murdered or died under ‘unusual’ circumstances.

“An exiled critic of Vladimir Putin was found strangled to death on the day he was due in court to fight a $99 million compensation claims, it has emerged.”


Never-Trumper and author Rick Wilson has a new book due out shortly, “Everything Trump Touches Dies”. Putin’s version of such an expression is even more dangerous given another round of Novichok nerve agent attack in the U.K. 


RussBot heaven

Remember the lack of mea culpas from the social media companies for their role in facilitating disruption of the U.S. election? It was almost like listening to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) denying his knowledge of his “cesspool of deviancy” before various companies started to admit to a bit of knowledge and some factual disclosures ahead of the deluge or real admissions and action. Likely we’ll see the same from Jordan, but in the meantime, Twitter at least (at last) comes clean: Twitter Is Sweeping Out Fake Accounts Like Never Before, Putting User Growth At Risk.

“The rate of account suspensions, which Twitter confirmed to The Post, has more than doubled since October, when the company revealed under congressional pressure how Russia used fake accounts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July, according to the data.”

That is a crap-load of Russian bots.


Damn those journalists!

A quick note on the Trump-Putin, Putin-Leave.EU parallels. Just like Trump-Putin, just like the social media firms, just like Rep. Jim “Cesspool” Jordan – the facts just keep coming out. ‘No meetings’ becomes many meetings; no quid pro quo, no Trump collusion with Russia is played out in front of us as an act of surrender: Revealed: Arron Banks Met Russian Ambassador 11 Times.

The story sub-head is a great summary: The Leave.EU founder was offered lucrative deals in talks with the envoy.”

It’s no wonder that Trump, Jordan, Banks and so many others denigrate the media to the point of inciting violence – the truth is damn inconvenient.


Straight up: What we are facing

If you prefer your assessment to be calm, clear-eyed, articulate – you may have to look abroad. The assessment is the same, Putin is a cold-eyed aggressor and we should be concerned. This 10-minute video from a Commoner Call reader: British Intelligence Chief Warns The West Of Putin’s Aggression.

Russia no longer cares about getting “called out” – why should they when the reward is Ron Johnson and the groveling Russpublican July 4th entourage Putin’s Moscow showing up “because they needed to”.


Here is a thoughtful reminder – there are governments and there are people. Russia is not simply how it is presented on TV – neither here or in Russia: Russia Was My Obscure Interest. Now Everyone Is Paying Attention.


He’s counting on you letting him get away with it

Remember, Trump is counting on you letting him getting away with it. A reminder from a recent article by author David Corn: Donald Trump Is Getting Away With the Biggest Scandal In American History.

(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )