“?“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin”.
— Trump says to the media during a joint press conference with Putin following one-on-one meeting at Osaka G20.
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
— Former special counsel Robert Mueller (5/29/19) at the Justice Department, his first public remarks since taking over the nearly two-year investigation.
Trump is “an illegitimate president”.
— Former President Jimmy Carter.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/1/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
There is almost a sense of relief when Trump is out of the country without his constant stream of angry and ignorant tweets. Sadly, there is a price – news of his inane and dangerous utterances, his destructive confrontations of traditional US alliances coupled with his warm embrace of authoritarianism still finds its way back to us. Which version of his latest travels do you find most concerning?
My nomination is for the latest Trump-G20 performance, Trump’s bromance with Putin. This is a scene that is no less troubling with repetition from Trump frantically hand signaling for a private meet-up with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg, Germany to a cowed Trump deferring to Putin in 2018 in Helsinki to now, 2019 in Osaka. These meetings are sad for Trump’s servility to Putin and his attacks on US democracy.
These three meetings should be taken together for how they show the progression from Trump’s careful and anxious approaches to his now comfortable and deliberate disdain for the US. Let’s remember the moment that kicked off the cycle – Trump’s private moment in the White House with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with Russian media, no US media and the jokes about Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
There is consistency to these meetings. Trump’s evident glee at being granted an audience with Putin, his reveling in the jokes about US democratic institutions that aren’t allowed to even exist in Russia and the complete lack of any US record or debriefing over what Trump discusses with Putin.
Before we consider Trump’s behavior, I will offer this backdrop as a reminder and for contrast. In former special counsel Robert Mueller’s single public appearance to date, Mueller offered this:
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” Mueller said Wednesday at the Justice Department, his first public remarks since taking over the nearly two-year investigation. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
So how did the cozy Trump-Putin affair get on in Osaka?
“Like old friends reuniting” is how New York Times journalist Peter Baker starts out. But count on Trump to be tough on Russia? Or so he tells us:
“As he sat down on Friday with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan, Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he would tell Russia not to meddle in American elections.
“Yes, of course I will,” Mr. Trump said.
“Turning to Mr. Putin, he said, with a half-grin on his face and mock seriousness in his voice, “Don’t meddle in the election, President.”
‘As Mr. Putin smiled and tittered, Mr. Trump pointed at another Russian official in a playful way and repeated, “Don’t meddle in the election.”’
Funny stuff that US democracy and security stuff. But it gets worse. Trump buddies up with his stated desire to accomplish what Putin already has – get rid of independent journalists:
“Mr. Trump did not dispute Mr. Putin’s view and seemed almost to share it. As reporters and photographers entered their meeting room to set up cameras and microphones on Friday, the American president offered the sort of disdain for journalists sure to resonate with an authoritarian like Mr. Putin.
“Get rid of them,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
“We also have,” Mr. Putin insisted in English. “It’s the same.””
While Putin jokes along about US election interference, revels in having already eliminated — quite literally so — independent journalists in Russia and lecturing over the obsolescence of “Western-style liberalism”, Trump stands up for us with “It’s a great honor to be with President Putin”.
Trump has a comment about any interest you might have about what is discussed in these meetings:
“I’ll have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business.”
Remember, after the Helsinki 2018 meeting, Trump took the US translator’s notes. While that might constitute a violation of Presidential Records Act and Democrats consider using subpoenas to get the notes – there are rumblings now about the notes having gone-missing though at the very least, the White House, as with any Congressional inquiries, refuses to say.
What’s the line about no one being above the law?
Hey, no problem
So while Trump laughs with Putin about interfering in US elections in Osaka we can also remember that it was only a few weeks ago that Trump told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos that he continues to be open to foreign government interference in US elections, noting, “I think I’d take it”.
Against that backdrop we’d certainly expect our political leadership to do everything possible to investigate exactly how our election was compromised and take all possible steps to make sure it can’t happen again. There are many versions of draft legislation in the US Senate to do exactly that, but there is a problem and the name of that problem is Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
“But even bipartisan coalitions have begun to crumble in the face of the majority leader’s blockade. Mr. McConnell, long the Senate’s leading ideological opponent to federal regulation of elections, has told colleagues in recent months that he has no plans to consider stand-alone legislation on the matter this term, despite clamoring from members of his own conference and the growing pressure from Democrats who also sense a political advantage in trying to make the Republican response to Russia’s election attack look anemic.”
I can imagine McConnell thinking, “why fix what isn’t broken” – meaning if election interference benefited Trump…
But did election interference benefit Trump? Finally, someone raises their voice to challenge a political third rail of “thou shall not question US election integrity” to say this: Jimmy Carter Says A Full Investigation Would Show Trump Lost In 2016.
Trump in his own self-aggrandizing way challenges US election integrity constantly, from not accepting the popular vote count that he lost to Clinton by 3 million votes, to threatening to stay in the White House if reelection doesn’t benefit him. But finally, in contrast:
“Former President Jimmy Carter questioned the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, saying he would likely not be in the White House if the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” the former president, who served between 1977 and 1981, said at a panel hosted by the Carter Center in Leesburg, Va.
“Pressed by moderator and historian Jon Meacham on whether he believes Trump is an “illegitimate president,” Carter stared, and then said smiling, “Basically, what I said, I can’t retract.””
There is no reason to delve into guesswork over what will be disclosed, but it’s worth noting the Senate Intelligence Committee will be releasing a five-part report of their findings with a first installment due out this month.
When House Democrats don’t act film maker does
As a final note, if you prefer video to print, here’s a short video summary of how we got to this moment in time – a short denouncement of Trump-Russia, Russian interference, the Mueller report and something akin to former president Carter’s question of Trump legitimacy.
Better yet, hear actor and activist Rob Reiner’s review of this video with MSNBC host Joy Reid. Reiner’s goal is to educate us on what happened in response to Trump and Trumpster resistance to learning what happened and what should be done.
Reiner’s guidance: “open and official impeachment inquiry” as the only path to getting to the truth.