With James Comey’s testimony that the President is a liar, Mr. Trump, this morning, lost the media deference that has protected Republican efforts to normalize. Under that Republican view, there is no “there” there – no evidence of collusion or wrongdoing. It’s all the usual politics. Just stay calm, the investigations will show nothing. Or as Paul Ryan indicated this morning, Trump is “new” at this, no real problem.
But it isn’t so. The forest fire is raging and Republicans are saying “smoke? what smoke?” I enjoyed David Corn’s article in Mother Jones, “We already know Trump betrayed America“, which summarizes much of the information in public view showing Trump’s enabling of the Russian cyber assault on the 2016 election.
As Corn notes: “Explicit collusion may yet be proved by the FBI investigation overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller or by other ongoing probes. But even if it is not, a harsh verdict can be pronounced: Trump actively and enthusiastically aided and abetted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plot against America. This is the scandal. It already exists—in plain sight.
As soon as the news broke a year ago that the Russians had penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems, Trump launched a campaign of denial and distraction. For months, he refused to acknowledge the Kremlin’s role. He questioned expert and government findings that pinned the blame on Moscow. He refused to condemn Putin. Far from treating these acts of information warfare seriously, he attempted to politicize and delegitimize the evidence. Meanwhile, he and his supporters encouraged more Russian hacking. All told, Trump provided cover for a foreign government’s attempt to undermine American democracy. Through a propaganda campaign of his own, he helped Russia get away with it. As James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, testified to Congress this spring, Trump ‘helps the Russians by obfuscating who was actually responsible’.”
Corn reviews Trump’s call out to the Russian’s to find the 30,000 emails and the numerous efforts to deflect, or deny, or to contradict intelligence findings of Russian culpability. Corn again:
“Indeed, in August, during his first intelligence briefing as the Republican presidential nominee, Trump was reportedly told that there were direct links between the hacks and the Russian government.
Still, he didn’t change his tune. During a September 8 interview with RT, the Kremlin-controlled broadcaster that has been accused of disseminating fake news and propaganda, Trump discounted the Russian connection: ‘I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows, but I think it’s pretty unlikely.’ (Yes, he did this on RT.) He repeated a similar line at the first presidential debate at the end of that month, with his famous reference to how the DNC hacker ‘could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?’”
And this: “Trump’s response, at the second presidential debate: ‘I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say ‘the Russians.’ Well, [Hillary Clinton] doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.’ The next day at a campaign rally, Trump, citing some of the Podesta emails, exclaimed, ‘I love WikiLeaks!’”
And, after the election: “[Trump] still showed no signs of confronting Putin. At the Russian leader’s request, he jovially hosted the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office—and then disclosed top-secret information to them. Moreover, he did this the day after brazenly ousting Comey, who was overseeing the bureau’s probe of Moscow’s meddling and links between Trump associates and Russia.”
By any objective standard, Trump’s violations – of the emoluments clause, of apparent money laundering, of attacks on the Judiciary, of unconstitutional bias against Muslims – far exceed those of any previous President. The indications are overwhelming that he and his aides, Bannon, Kushner, Flynn, Manafort, and others, colluded with Russians to hack the election. Laying out those cases against Trump properly requires further investigation. But the case for Trump enabling the Russian hacking and cyber attacks is right out in public – the enabling comes right from Trump’s mouth. And it’s not smoke, it’s fire.