Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Word of the Week: TREACHEROUS [Part 2 of 5]

Think about your favorite books and/or films about spies.  You know the kind, complete with plenty of espionage, intrigue, shady characters, and questionable goings-on.  The story would unfold, pulling you in, slowly, methodically.  It would create its own world for you to inhabit with the author or screenwriter.  If everything going on with Trump presidency was in a film or book, that would be the world it created.

What I am addressing is, however, real life.

Let us start with Trump's ongoing admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  President Trump has verbally trash-talked about other politicians (including those in his own party), other world leaders, and various other individuals and groups throughout his entire campaign, and continues to do so.  At one point in the campaign, he said bombing Europe (for whatever reason it might be "necessary", I assume) cannot be taken off the table.  After calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel "fantastic" and "highly respected", he said the following in response to her welcoming Syrian refugees into Germany: "[T]hey're going to have riots in Germany.  What's happening in Germany, I always thought Merkel was, like, this great leader.  What she's done in Germany is insane."

And when Chancellor Merkel visited the President earlier this year, here is what the President thought was a proper response to her request for a polite gesture.

That's how you treat the leader of a U.S. ally?

However, when it comes to the leader of a country that is not an ally of the United States, Vladimir Putin, Trump is eerily silent.  In place of any kind of slander, no matter how slight, Trump lauds praise on the Russian leader (i.e. "highly respected within his own country and beyond", "a leader, unlike [Obama]"), while being careful to remind us that he neither knows nor has met Putin.

Ah, but others who are, or were, part of his administration have met the Russian President.  Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is a former CEO of ExxonMobil and he has had ties with Putin and Russia for years.  (Maybe having someone who works with and profits from an enemy of the U.S. as your Secretary of State is a bad idea?)  In fact, the President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies described Tillerson as having "more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American, with the exception of Dr. Henry Kissinger" in an interview for The Wall Street Journal newspaper back in December.  In fact, Tillerson was awarded the Russian Medal of Friendship for his work of cooperation in the field of energy.

And let's not forget former National Security Advisor (for a whole twenty-four days), Gen. Michael Flynn.  Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump on January 30, has been testifying in front of a Senate committee to the extent that Flynn was known by her to be likely targeted by Russia.  President Obama knew that he could be a problem and even warned Trump not to pick him for any administration position during their transition period at the White House.  Ms. Yates offered the same warning.  Much of Flynn's activity, that should have warranted filing with the U.S. government as a foreign agent, was with Turkey since last year.  Well, it did warrant his doing that, but he didn't do so until just over three weeks after he was fired from the National Security Advisor position.

There is also his attendance at a tenth anniversary gala for RT (Russia Today television network), Russia's propaganda machine, in December of 2015 after being interviewed by the network (for a cool $45,000) and having appeared on the network from time to time as an analyst.
Gen. Flynn (left) next to Putin at RT gala (December 2015)

Oh yeah, there's that tiny piece of business where General Flynn failed to mention involvement with both countries and getting paid for both while being vetted for the National Security Advisor position.  (Sorry, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, vetting does, indeed, reoccur the higher up in security clearance you go.)

The grab bag gets deeper: Jared Kushner, President Trump's Senior Advisor and son-in-law met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kisliak twice and once with the head of Russia's state-owned bank for development and foreign business, Sergey Gorkov.  Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has ties with Russia that go as far back as twelve years ago.  (Trump and his people have been saying Manafort's role in Trump's campaign was "limited".)  Carter Page, Mr. I-Just-Like-Being-On-TV, a Trump campaign foreign advisor, like Jared Kushner, met with Ambassador Kisliak.  (Their meeting was at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.)  J.D. Gordon, a national security advisor to the Trump campaign, also met with Kisliak at the Republican National Convention.  He pushed for a more pro-Russia/anti-Ukraine platform at the convention.  (Remember Russia annexing eastern Ukraine a few years ago?)  The language in the platform was softened from looking to arm Ukranian fighters against Russian forces, down to "appropriate assistance" and "greater coordination with NATO defense planning".  (Yes, that is, as Trump put it, the same former "obsolete" and now "no longer obsolete" NATO.)

The FBI investigation, now without Director James Comey, who was fired one week ago today, as well as the Senate and (damaged) House investigations continue.  How much deeper do these ties to Russia go?  How much more involved with an enemy of the U.S. is this President as his various associates and connections?  And why is this being allowed to continue?


Part 3 Tomorrow 

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