From Russia with Malice?
“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” — Winston Churchill
Contrary to the old idiom and much to the chagrin of President Donald Trump and his supporters, these days all roads lead to Russia.
As anybody not a member of the reality-denying wing of Trump Troop will acknowledge, the Russian government committed the equivalent of cyber warfare by interfering with and attempting to influence last year’s presidential election in this country. This we know because all 17 U.S. intelligence entities say they did and because we saw them attempt to do the same thing in the French election earlier this month.
And that is why on the same day that former acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave testimony on Capitol Hill about the Russian-related warning that had gotten her fired from that post, it was something else said by somebody else, that while largely overlooked, made me shudder.
The somebody else was a 50-year intelligence veteran and former Director of National Intelligence named James Clapper, and what he said, about the Russians, was this: “I believe they are now emboldened to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world, and to do so with even more intensity,” And then he added, “If ever there has been a clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our democratic political system, this episode is it.”
So why are we ignoring that call to action and instead playing footsie with that threat? Just consider what has happened since Trump took office:
Jan. 13—National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is fired. This happens almost immediately after the Washington Post reports that the Justice Dept. had informed the administration he had been compromised by the Russians, but 18 days after the initial briefing on that by Yates.
Jan. 30—Trump fires Yates.
Feb. 14—The New York Times reports that Trump’s campaign “had repeated contact with senior Russian officials.”
March 1—The Post reports Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russian envoys twice in 2016 and failed to report that during his confirmation.
March 2—Sessions recuses himself from anything related to campaign.
Mar. 20—FBI Director James Comey confirms the agency investigating allegations the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian officials and says agency has “no information that supports” Trump’s infamous tweet that Obama had wiretapped him.
May 2—Trump tweets Comey “was the best thing that ever happened” to Hillary Clinton and says Russia investigation is “phony.”
May 8—Yates testifies on Capitol Hill that she had warned the administration in its initial days of Flynn’s lying and vulnerability to Russian blackmail.
May 8—Trump tweets Russia-Trump collusion story is “total hoax.”
May 9—Trump fires Comey, with his dismissal letter saying action was upon recommendations of Acting AG Rod Rubenstein and the allegedly recused Sessions, each of whom wrote memos to that effect after meeting with Trump the day before.
May 10—Trump hosts Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office, allowing only Russian press inside the room, which then publishes photos of Trump grinning and glad-handing with both. (We later learn he shared secrets with them, too.)
May 10—Tump’s press secretary and assistant repeat Comey fired “on recommendation only” tale.
May 11—In NBC interview, Trump kneecaps spokesman, saying he had already decided to fire Comey and had “Russia story” on his mind when he did.
May 12—Trump’s hired private law firm writes letter stating that review of Trump’s 10 years of tax returns show no Russian ties. Then it is revealed that law firm itself had been chosen the 2016 “Russian Law Firm of the Year.”
Now, I am neither launching nor trying to reinforce any existing conspiracy theory. I am simply asking the questions that every thinking American should: Why do we continue to make nice with the same people we know to have attacked our sovereignty? Why do we continue to act contrary to our self-interests? Why does every common denominator turn out to be Russia?
I don’t know. And you don’t either. And that’s the problem.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.