There’s an elephant in the room
The focus of the recent Comey hearing has been on whether Trump was obstructing justice by demanding loyalty of Comey and by asking that Comey give Michael Flynn a pass. Comey says, “yes”, Trump says “no”. Mainstream commentators would have you think that we are at some kind of stalemate. “He’s the President and he says ‘no'”, as if Trump’s word has any value. But that is an altogether too narrow view – the underlying issue is whether Trump and his staff colluded with the Russians to steal the election. I’ve covered this ground before; I view the evidence as compelling and have said so. Consider the above-noted article by Max Boot, one of our leading foreign policy analysts.
Here’s Boot: “That there was public collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, while the Kremlin was interfering in the U.S. election, is undisputed. Trump, after all, publicly called on July 27, 2016, for the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails (“Russia, if you’re listening …”). He then celebrated the resulting leaks from WikiLeaks (“I love WikiLeaks”), which his own CIA director has identified as ‘a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.’
The only question is whether there was private collusion, too. A lot of evidence points that way. During his testimony, Comey disputed a New York Times article on contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, saying that ‘in the main, it was not true.’ But he did not say what was untrue, and numerous other news articles have reported that the Trump campaign had numerous interactions with influential Russian representatives. Reuters, for example, reports that there were at least 18 contacts during the final seven months of the campaign.”
Further on in Boot’s piece: “In truth, suspicious contacts with the Russians were not limited to ‘satellite associates,’ but involved Trump’s nearest and dearest. Comey told senators in a closed session that there was a third meeting between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Russians that was previously undisclosed on top of two previous meetings that Sessions did not disclose in his confirmation hearings.
Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior advisor to Trump, left off his Russian contacts from his security clearance form. Flynn was fired for lying about his talks with the Russian ambassador. Why would they lie if there was nothing to hide? And what possibly innocent explanation can there be for their conduct? None has been offered by the Trump team.”
And Boot on whether there was a quid pro quo:
“While the growing Kremlingate scandal made it politically impossible for Trump to reward Putin for election interference by lifting sanctions, he hasn’t punished Putin either. Now, theWashington Post reports, Trump is considering giving back to the Russians two diplomatic compounds seized by President Barack Obama in retaliation for Russia’s meddling in our election.
Trump still talks tougher about Germany than he does about Russia, and he yukked it up with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in an Oval Office meeting where he shared code-word secrets with the Russians. Perhaps the greatest gift Trump has given the Russians is his refusal to affirm NATO’s Article 5, thus casting the future of the Atlantic alliance into question.”
His conclusion: “Trump’s defenders make much of the fact that Comey said he wasn’t under investigation for collusion. But they ignore the likelihood that Trump is now under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice — and for good reason: He all but confessed to the crime. As former Watergate prosecutor Philip Allen Lacovara writes: ‘Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.’
In short, the White House has no cause to breathe easy after Comey’s testimony. The only thing standing between Trump and impeachment is the new partisanship of the Republican majority on Capitol Hill. But if Democrats win the 2018 midterm elections, we are likely to see the most serious impeachment proceedings since Watergate.”
Or to put it all in another light, the elephant in the room is the growing realization that Donald Trump really did it, really committed treason in colluding with Russian operatives to undermine the election. This is a reality the Republican leadership is unwilling to confront, quite possibly because they were in on it. And it is a reality that the less educated, and perhaps more trusting, of us have considered beyond the pale of possible reality. But, as John Adams noted, facts are stubborn. The underlying reality of treason by our President is not going away. Resist.