“Listening to Trump, it was as if Franklin Roosevelt had announced after Pearl Harbor: “Hey, both sides are to blame. Our battleships in Hawaii were a little provocative to Japan — and, by the way, I had nothing to do with the causes for their attack. So cool it.”
— Thomas Friedman, The New York Times (7/16/18)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/19/18)
Dear Fellow Readers,
It is with a degree of sadness that we report: We Just Watched A U.S. President Acting On Behalf Of A Hostile Power.
Watching a shockingly docile and subservient Donald Trump embarrass his country on the world stage standing side by side with Putin at a joint press conference following their Helsinki tete a tete it is hard to find the words and images. Max Boot doesn’t hold back:
“…after his appalling performance in Helsinki at what CNN’s John King aptly called the “,” questions about Trump’s loyalty to the American people will only intensify. Indeed, the question came up at the news conference itself. The Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire courageously “does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?”
“Think of how extraordinary — how unprecedented — that moment was. Can you imagine a similar question being asked about any previous U.S. president?”
How do we come to terms with the reality of Trump and Putin being questioned about kompromat by a reporter? It was the right question having watched Trump sell out his own intelligence community and country.
“The sellout in Helsinki only adds further credence to this speculation about the true nature of Trump-Putin ties. Not only did Trump fail to call out the Russian strongman for his many crimes — he also attacked the FBI and accepted Putin’s assurances that Russia was not responsible for interfering in the U.S. election even though the U.S. intelligence community has provided overwhelming evidence that it did. “President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Let’s run through a few more views of the events. But this is possibly the best summary.
The Washington Post gave a good summary Trump’s Helsinki debacle: Trump Hands Putin A Diplomatic Triumph By Casting Doubt On U.S. Intelligence Agencies.
“President Trump handed Russian President Vladimir Putin an unalloyed diplomatic triumph during their summit here Monday as he refused to support the collective conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Trump’s warm rhetorical embrace of Putin, who he said had given him an “extremely strong and powerful” denial that Russia assaulted U.S. democracy, marked an extraordinary capstone to the first formal meeting between the current leaders of the world’s nuclear superpowers and sparked trepidation and horror among many in Washington and around the globe.
“At a remarkable 46-minute joint news conference inside the Finnish presidential palace, Trump would not challenge Putin’s claim that the Russian government played no role in trying to sabotage the U.S. election, despite the Justice Department’s indictments Friday of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails as part of a broad subterfuge operation to help Trump win the election.”
Once again, Trump asked and answered, “he just said it’s not Russia.”
Trying to head off the Helsinki sell-out
Trump’s intelligence chief Dan Coats did all he could ahead of Trump’s Helsinki sellout to set the record straight: Please, Dan Coats. For The Good Of The Country, Don’t Resign.
Trump’s intelligence chief Dan Coats did all he could ahead of Trump’s Helsinki sellout to set the record straight.
“On Friday, Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana and ambassador to Germany, said that warning lights about cyberattacks are “,” just as the terrorist threat was flashing before 9/11 in 2001. The leading threat, he said, is Russia — not just to interfere in the 2018 elections but to sabotage key American infrastructure.
““The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, in coordination with international partners, have detected Russian government actors targeting government and businesses in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors,” .
And the result is… Trump and Putin vs. America.
Trump is an asset of Russian intelligence.
“From the beginning of his administration, President Trump has responded to every new bit of evidence from the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A. that Russia intervened in our last election on his behalf by either attacking Barack Obama or the Democrats for being too lax — never President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his unprecedented cyberhit on our democratic process. Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.
“…There is overwhelming evidence that our president… engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.””
There were vocal critics, more than usual, including Senator John McCain: . “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” Mr. McCain said.
So, yes, there was outrage. And yes, Vanity Fair reports, Trump was pressured to walk back his surrender: “This Was The Nightmare Scenario”: West Wing Revolts After Trump Embraces Putin.
The sub-head is the summary: “As Trump grappled with his error, Chief of Staff John Kelly went into overdrive to get Trump to walk it back.”
And as expected, Trump mumbles something like an apology only to return to form the very next day: Trump Returns To Touting His Summit With Putin A Day After Doing Damage Control.
“A day after trying to do damage control, President Trump offered a fresh defense Wednesday of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, firing off morning tweets in which he claimed that his widely panned news conference afterward actually was appreciated by “many people at the higher ends of intelligence.””
So there you go, people smarter than us appreciated Trump’s capitulation to a country that attacked us, is not an ally, is not a significant trading partner. To put this in context, the Trump surrender to Putin in Helsinki was only one event of many during Trump’s European rampage.
Zach Beauchamp writing for Vox tallied some of the carnage: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, And America’s “geopolitical suicide”.
Zach’s sub-head reads, “The Trump-Putin meeting reveals how Trump is killing American power”.
“”The Trump-Putin summit was, by all accounts, a . President Trump kowtowed to Vladimir Putin, praising the Russian leader as a potential partner and casting doubt on accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“But the thing that made it not just disgraceful but actively terrifying was the timing.
“Last week, Trump attended a NATO summit, where he met with America’s top allies in Western Europe to discuss (among other things) the threat from Putin’s Russia. Trump spent the meeting bashing American allies for not spending enough on their own defense, labeling the Western alliance “.” Shortly afterward, he gave interviews and labeling the European Union a
“The contrast with the Putin press conference, in which Trump vowed to build an “extraordinary relationship” with Russia, couldn’t be clearer….”
Beauchamp offers a view of how the U.S. has been the global ‘status quo’ power while Russia has acted as the primary ‘revisionist’ power and Trump’s fascination with Putin changes this balance.
“Russia under Putin is perhaps the world’s most ambitious revisionist power. Putin’s goal is to make Russia the kind of world power it was during the Soviet era; he’s been willing to aggressively deploy the Russian military (in Ukraine and Syria) and intelligence services (in Western Europe and the United States) in service of this aim. This fundamental tension, between
“Moscow’s revisionism and Washington’s defense of the status quo, led to a collapse in US-Russia relations during the late Obama administration.
“But Trump thinks like a revisionist. When he looks at the NATO alliance, he doesn’t see a network of American allies; he sees a group of freeloaders exploiting American might to slack off on defending themselves. When he looks at the global economy, he doesn’t see America’s privileged position as the world’s largest economy; he sees a once-great country laid low by foreigners exploiting its generous trade practices. Trump doesn’t want to preserve the global status quo; he wants to revise it.
“This worldview puts him in objective alignment with Putin, who has similar — albeit more radical — feelings about the Western alliance. “
Trump’s destabilizing efforts are “exactly the ways Putin hoped for”.
Is it pee or rain?
How can this be happening? Katy Tur of MSNBC gets the nod for explaining events in the simplest way possible: Katy Tur Asks If Trump Is ‘peeing on our leg and telling us it’s raining’.
This from a Commoner Call reader. When is an apology not really an apology?
“The White House distributed talking points about the summit today, which NBC news obtained and they didn’t try to correct what he said. The director of national intelligence, put out a statement in response to the president’s comments at the summit, and he didn’t try to correct what Mr. Trump said. Guys, if the president’s advisors thought he misspoke, why would it take 27 hours for someone to tell us?”
“Tur said that President Trump must think people are dumb.
““Did the president just pee on our leg and tell us that it’s raining?” she asked.”
There are many people who will agree with Trump that it’s raining.
And, as The Washington Post reports, here is where all the kerfuffle brings us: The Growing Trump-Putin Kompromat Question.
Two points of significance.
First: Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook Data Was Accessed From Russia.
This reads as no surprise and we’ll offer this and continue forward to the second point as we trust at some point the entire data operation chaired by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump data operations and 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale with the financial backing of billionaires Robert and Rebekkah Mercer will get the proper time in the light of day:
“The now infamous Facebook data set on tens of millions of Americans gathered by a Cambridge University scientist for a firm that went on to worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was accessed from Russia, a British member of parliament tells CNN.”
And maybe of even more interest: Mariia Butina, Who Sought ‘Back Channel’ Meeting for Trump and Putin, Is Charged As Russian Agent.
The FBI has arrested and charged Mariia Butina, the Russian darling of the NRA:
‘A Russian woman who tried to broker a secret meeting between Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign was charged Monday and accused of working with Americans to carry out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics.
“At the behest of a senior Russian government official, the woman, Mariia Butina, made connections through the National Rifle Association, religious organizations and the National Prayer Breakfast to try to steer the Republican Party toward more pro-Russia policies, court records show. Privately comparing herself to a Soviet Cold War propagandist, she worked to infiltrate American organizations and establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians.
““These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in court documents.”
If you prefer, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has a great report on the history and significance of Butina’s efforts: Time For Americans To Face ‘worst case scenario’ On Trump.
Or you can check out a short segment specific to Butina’s arrest and relationship to Trump, Donnie Jr. and the NRA.
For a bit more insight regarding congressional Russpublican efforts on covering for Trump: Congressman Reveals GOP Members Refused To Allow Dems To Question Russian ‘spy’ Maria Butina And 30 Other Witnesses.
“Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) revealed Tuesday that Republicans shut down any demands by Democrats to question Maria Butina, who was indicted Tuesday by federal prosecutors.
“But Butina was one of about 30 witnesses that Democrats sought out that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and other Republicans on the Intelligence Committee denied. The investigation has since been closed by Nunes.”
Nunes is the leader of Russpublican efforts to protect Trump and keep evidence from seeing the light of day, but Rachel Maddow reported on Tuesday night that Butina did testify in a closed session before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trumputin is guilty, guilty, guilty of collusion
As we said at the beginning, it is with sadness that we report the public questioning of a U.S. president for treason, collusion, kompromat and surrender to Russia. Even with all the evidence to date and Trump’s subservient performance along side Putin, it remains partly incomprehensible.
The last word goes to David Corn who has worked as hard as anyone to bring forward this story: In Helsinki, Trump Shows He Is Indeed Guilty Of Collusion.
“Since being elected president, Donald Trump has vociferously claimed he engaged in “no collusion” with Vladimir Putin’s attack on the 2016 US election and that the investigation of any interactions between him and his associates and Russians was a “witch hunt” or a “rigged witch hunt.” Yet his historic Helsinki summit with Putin—and particularly the unsettling joint press conference they held—provided a clear indication that Trump is indeed guilty of one form of collusion: colluding with Putin to cover up Moscow’s criminal assault on American democracy.
“I’ve been making this case for over a year, that “Trump actively and enthusiastically aided and abetted” Putin’s plot against the United States by supporting Moscow’s denial that it mounted information warfare that undermined the election and helped Trump. Put aside the notion of whether Trump or anyone in his crew schemed with Russians on how to pull this off. Once the attack became public, Trump and his lieutenants continuously maintained it was nothing but a hoax.”
As Corn points out, no one has worked harder on Trump-Russia collusion denial that Donald Trump. And now Trump has openly worked hand-in-hand with Putin to offer the same denial.
Trump’s former campaign manager indicted and in prison, Paul Manafort, will be in court for the beginning of his trial next week. It is Manafort who is on trial but it is Trump on trial in absentia as well.