When people like Kayne West turn up at the media circus currently playing at Trump Tower — having just recently been released from a mental health facility for a “psychiatric emergency” — we recognize such events as the sideshow distractions they are intended to be. Prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration, however, nothing short of a cataclysmic event will suppress the uproar surrounding Trump’s electoral win and the CIA’s continued insistence — now to lawmakers — that there was, indeed, Russian interference in our elections, specifically to install Trump as president.
Such interference is of grave concern to our national security. But what the public really wants to know is whether Trump or his associates colluded with Russia in acts of treason in this regard. Indeed, before Trump raises his right hand on Jan. 20, 2017 to swear his allegiance to defend our Constitution “from enemies both foreign and domestic,” we deserve to know that those enemies do not include our new president!
We have not forgotten that when American intelligence officials briefed Trump privately about Russia’s clandestine activities, he publicly dismissed the claims, choosing instead to make unsubstantiated, public statements denying Moscow’s role. We have not forgotten the blatant lies Trump told during the presidential debates, vehemently denying his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he was already on record in a 2013 interview extolling their relationship; even intimating that Putin was likely interested in his political activities. We have not forgotten either Trump’s public plea for Russia’s direct interference in our elections.
“Russia, if you’re listening,” Trump brazenly challenged at a July 27 press conference, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Trump is the same person who publicly declared, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Therefore, if he courted Russian interference so publicly, we demand to know whether he and/or his agents colluded privately with the Russian government through the unorthodox contact they maintained throughout the entire electoral process.
Upon Trump’s victory, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed, “We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign. I don’t say that all of them, but a whole array of them supported contacts with Russian representatives.” Such contacts would continue, Ryabkov added, saying that the Russian government knew and had been in touch with many of Trump’s closest allies.
While Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova subsequently attempted to describe such interactions as “normal practice,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign denied that standard diplomacy called for “contact with the leaders in the campaign.” Therefore, when Trump continues to defend Putin, flatly disparaging the intelligence community's findings as “politically driven,” it raises red flags.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the Trump transition team declared in a dismissive statement. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’”
When 17 different agencies responsible for American intelligence say there was Russian interference in our elections with the clear intent to appoint Trump as president, we should pay attention. When Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who should be doing backflips to support his party’s president-elect but says instead that the CIA’s concerns are legitimate and that their investigations must transcend partisan politics, we should pay attention. When former acting CIA director Michael Morrell raises the alarm that Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections is “the political equivalent of 9/11” and “an existential threat to our way of life,” we should pay attention.
Indeed, when several legitimate, high-profile sources, including FBI Director James Comey — who seemingly acted in tandem with Russia to sabotage Clinton’s campaign and who still carries significant suspicion of collusion — agrees with Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. that Russia intervened to help Trump win the White House, we should absolutely pay attention!
Lest we forget, Comey has a partisan past — as a Republican. "I have been a registered Republican for most of my adult life," said Comey recently, before adding that he is "not registered any longer."
Republican Senator John McCain, a leading voice on national security matters in Trump’s own party, also called for a bi-partisan investigation into Russia’s interference. In fact, McCain declared unequivocally that any attempt by the incoming Trump administration to reset relations with Russia is an "unacceptable price" that would constitute U.S. complicity in the "butchery of the Syrian people" being carried out by Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Vladimir Putin is a thug, and a murderer, and a killer and a KGB agent.” McCain insists. “He had Boris Nemstov murdered in the shadow of the Kremlin. He has dismembered the Ukraine. He has now precision strikes by Russian aircraft on hospitals in Aleppo. Let’s call Vladir Putin for what he is.”
The Russian Connection
While Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov gave no indication with whom Russia had contact within Trump’s campaign, it is not hard now to connect the dots. Many of the “Trump cards,” now seemingly on the table as advisers, have had high-level contact with the Russian government.
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a retired intelligence officer now tapped as the national security adviser for the incoming Trump administration, was seated next to Putin in December 2015 during an anniversary dinner in Moscow for the English-language satellite television network, RT. That doesn’t just happen. Moreover, I think it is safe to assume he was not in Moscow on behalf of the Obama administration.
There is also Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who left the campaign when the FBI reportedly started investigating that he had been funneled money for covert lobbying efforts and pro-Russian propaganda in America on behalf of Ukraine. The New York Times reported that a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine had designated $12.7 million for Manafort in a series of 22 undisclosed cash payments between 2007-12. Manafort’s cadre of clients have included dictators of repressive political regimes with egregious records of human-rights abuses.
Understanding the Russian connection of Trump’s new chief strategist Steve Bannon — Manafort’s successor as Trump's campaign manager — is an exercise in intrigue, not for the fainthearted. Regardless, what is clear is that Bannon and his Alt-Right, white nationalist movement have joined forces with Russia, working through Breitbart News, here and throughout Western Europe, to usher in nationalism through policies like Brexit. Next year, France and Germany are targets. Bannon — a self-described Leninist without a care about being perceived as a villain like Satan — is on record saying, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon also said in a recent interview, “It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing” — "they" being liberals and the media.
Then there is Rex Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil — the world’s largest oil company — nominated by Trump to be our next secretary of state. While Trump touts Tillerson as a “world-class player,” what should also be known is that Tillerson opposes official trade sanctions against Russia for its actions in the Ukraine. If those sanctions are lifted, ExxonMobile stands to gain billions of dollars. Unsurprisingly, Tillerson owns more than $200 million in ExxonMobile stock, and leaked documents now reveal him to be the long-time director of a U.S.-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas.
Tillerson is reportedly close to hardliner, ex-KGB Igor Sechin, the head of Russian state oil company Rosneft, and the de facto second most powerful figure inside the Kremlin. In fact, in 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship. Therefore, it is not difficult to see Russia’s approval stamped all over Trump’s nomination pick for secretary of state, or that Tillerson’s allegiance is currently aligned more with Russia’s interests — and his own — rather than America’s.
Furthermore, when Trump’s children are having meetings with pro-Russian figures such as Donald Trump Jr. had in France on Oct. 11 at a think tank conference, where reports indicate that he expressed his father’s desire to cooperate with the Kremlin, conflicts of interest should raise several alarms. Indeed, when Ivanka Trump is also out and about in August on a Croatian rendezvous with Deng Murdoch — Rupert Murdoch’s extremely well-connected ex-wife and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s once-reputed girlfriend, who introduced Ivanka to her husband, Jared Kushner — things seem altogether too convenient, and timely.
“Everything she has is available to her friends,” Ivanka said of Deng in a recent Vogue interview to profile Deng. “I can’t recall the last time I had a conversation with her that didn’t conclude with her connecting me to four people who might become great friends or great business opportunities.”
History Will Judge Our Electoral College.
The specter of subversive Russian interference to tip the balance of our elections in favor of Trump is no longer rumor or innuendo. Nothing about Trump’s rise to the presidency is normal. Moreover, before Trump has spent even a single day in the Oval Office, he has already broken almost every promise he made to his supporters on the campaign trail. Lock up Hillary? "That plays great before the election,” Trump told his supporters recently. “Now, we don’t care, right?”
At this point, reasonably intelligent people — even among his cult-like following — should be asking, if not to make good on his campaign promises, why did Trump actually run for office?
America’s future now rests in the hands of our Electoral College. And, for better or worse, history will judge them. Indeed, when they go to their respective statehouses across America today, Dec. 19, they have the right, the Constitutional duty and the moral responsibility to find Trump unfit to ascend to the presidency. Under Federalist Paper #68, it is in their hands now to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”
Only 37 of Trump’s 306 electors need to vote “faithless” in order to stop him from receiving the necessary electoral 270 votes to ascend to the presidency. And it is difficult to believe that there are not 37 Republican patriots who will put country above partisanship to stop Trump — with a clear conscience. Indeed, we hope the Hamilton Electors were sufficiently heard among their peers.
The Hamilton Electors also presented compelling arguments why they think Trump is unfit to be president. Their arguments fall under these 3 categories:
- Trump is unqualified, lacking the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job.
- Trump is under “foreign influence.”
- Trump is a demagogue.
Indeed, when Trump is the president-elect but has to be tutored extensively by House Speaker, Paul Ryan on our Constitution — confirming what Gold-Star family member Khizr Khan publicly surmised: that Trump had likely never read the Constitution — it is clear he is unfit to be president.
When by clear intent, Trump has elevated Cabinet advisers who are white supremacists, bigots and apologists for our adversaries and, further, has set himself up to preside over the richest Cabinet in U.S. history, which any reasonable person would be hard-pressed to believe will serve the public interest over their own, he is unfit to be president.
When Trump adamantly refuses to release his tax returns to clarify the extent of his global dealings with countries like Russia, or to place his business holdings in a proper blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest between his global business interests and the business of the United States, he is unfit to be president.
When Trump, at 70, has no track record of real service to America that didn’t involve making a buck for himself; when what litters his personal landscape, instead, are well-documented testimonies and law suits, which indicate that he has swindled and defrauded ordinary citizens and business acquaintances, it is clear that Trump is a hustler, a con man and, yes, unfit to be president.
Despite the Electoral College vote today, our intelligence agencies must press on with their investigations. The tally of Electoral College votes, which officially declares the elected president and vice president is not scheduled until Jan. 6, 2017 in a joint session of our House of Representatives
But even then, under federal law, objections to a state’s electoral votes may be still be raised to the President of the Senate, according the procedure set out under 3 U.S.C. section 15. Such objections must be in writing, signed by at least one member of the House and the Senate, after which both Houses must withdraw to their respective chambers to consider the merits of any objections.
Therefore, should our Electoral College fail in its obligation to stop Trump by their votes today, there is still time to deliver any damning intelligence findings to Congress to begin his immediate impeachment.
Very little has gone the way they were expected in this election. But this is the price we pay for civic ignorance. Regardless, we simply cannot think of giving nuclear codes to such a man. We may not survive.