Incompetence or Collusion? POTUS Staff Russian Ties Pose Tough Questions
To the superficial observer, news coverage of the Russia connection saga encapsulates how government wastes time knife-fighting over inconsequential grudges which don’t bear fruit for the American people, whoever triumphs. This is NOT politics as usual. The lackadaisical news consumer needs to hone in on this scandal, as if their country depends on it. This requires the full attention and objectivity of the American people to confront our chilling reality: either our current President and supporting staff are dangerously incompetent or they colluded with a hostile foreign government for purely craven political purposes.
This deep-dive should not be viewed as a political hatchet job on the Republican party. Conservatism is not to blame for this situation. To Democrats: Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate long before Donald Trump decided to run for president or Russia decided to actively tip the scales in his favor by hacking the emails of DNC (Democratic National Committee). She lost for a host of reasons. To frame this fiasco properly, Hillary Clinton’s political demise should be compartmentalized and cast aside. The binary conclusion laying ahead is too important to be overshadowed by partisanship. We must dispel with our party affiliations for this topic.
What is the best-case scenario here? If a presidential candidate is unaware countless campaign surrogates are making repeated contact with a foreign government, who is flagrantly cyber attacking that candidate’s own country, it must be classified as woeful incompetence. As a roster of Trump associates become snared in lies surrounding communications and meetings with the Russian Ambassador, president Trump claims he was entirely in the dark about what his subordinates were doing behind his back.
President Trump’s now defrocked National Security advisor Mike Flynn was caught in a lie when he stated he had not spoken to the Russian Ambassador during the transition concerning sanctions when he in fact had. Shortly after his honesty deficiency ran him out of the White House, as we reported here Mr. Trump stated he had not ordered Flynn to speak with the Russian Ambassador about the sanctions. After it become public knowledge Russia intervened in the election, Flynn, a man that was paid at one point to sit at a dinner table with Vladimir Putin, had a secret conversation with the Russian Ambassador concerning the sanctions imposed on them for hacking the election. That is collusion or incompetence on the part of Mr. Trump to allow it to take place under his nose.
Just this week, an early campaign surrogate of Donald Trump and now the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, was caught having contorted the truth, under oath, in his confirmation hearing. He stated he had not been in contact with any Russian officials during the campaign. This week it was revealed that he had met with the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, two times during the campaign. Session quickly recused himself from any investigations dealing with Russian involvement in the past campaign. Again, Mr. Trump stated he was unaware of then Senator Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak.
It was reported on Thursday, two Trump surrogates, Carter Page and J.D. Gordon met with the Russian Ambassador during the Republican National Convention this past July in Cleveland. Mr. Gordon then took an active role in removing provisions from the platform advocating arming the Ukrainians against Russian backed rebels. The weakening of the platform was seen to be favorable to the Russian position in the conflict. Shortly after the convention, Russian hacked emails intended to undermine the Clinton campaign began to flood into the news cycle.
Are these simply harmless meetings between those close to Mr. Trump and a representative of a hostile government who just happened to be hacking Democrats and perpetuating pro-Trump propaganda online? Even so, to be unaware of these activities is disqualifying incompetence.
Is there an alternate view of the behavior which does not cast Mr. Trump in such a hapless light? These are merely questions, but they represent the other side of the coin. If this intrigue and secret meetings are not the result of Trump allowing himself to be misrepresented by his staff, what if they are the result of a cleverly planned collaboration? What if Mr. Trump not only knew of the communication but ordered it? What if a presidential candidate knew a foreign government was attacking the opposition party in his own country and wanted it to be known he would reward them for their efforts, were they to succeed? These are still questions which need to be investigated, as no evidence currently exists to convincingly answer them, to establish guilt or to exonerate. However, as a country, we are locked in a dreadful struggle between two equally unappetizing outcomes. Either Donald Trump is paralyzingly oblivious as his staff appears to placate a hostile regime who meddled in his country’s election process, or they are only following orders from a man who would accept the help of a foreign adversary to politically vanquish a domestic one.