The Russian Connection

images-1About six weeks ago I wrote a post comparing the surprising election of Donald Trump to a complex robbery such as that portrayed in the movie Ocean’s Eleven which starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

At that time, the idea was that Trump and his team had systematically identified the weak points in the American political system and pulled off an election victory despite the odds and opinions of commentators (mysef included) that said his victory was impossible.

Today it seems increasingly clear that he had help from Russia.

Breaking News

CNN reported today that the FBI is investigating evidence that the Trump campaign team was in contact with the Russian spies who hacked into the email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team and the Democratic National Committee and coordinated with them the release of that information.

It also appears that the Russians were instrumental in launching fake news stories which convinced a segment of the American electorate that the most absurd charges against Mrs. Clinton were true. As fake news is not a crime, the FBI is focussing its efforts on the hacking issue according to CNN.

All the President’s Men

imgres-2In a remark that echoed the Watergate investigation that eventually forced the 37th U.S. President, Richard Nixon, to resign in 1974, White House spokesman Sean Spicer responded to the FBI’s investigations about the Russian connection by saying “Investigating it and having proof of it are two different things”.

Michael Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General, lasted just a few weeks as Trump’s National Security Advisor before his Russian connections resulted in his abrupt resignation. For more information about Flynn the New Yorker published an interesting profile.

It also turns out that the Chairman of Trump’s campaign,  Paul Manafort, had extensive and secret dealings with Russia as described by the Independent.

All of this comes on top of the contacts between Trump’s pick for Attorney General and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. during the campaign or the personal relationship between the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s  and Vladimir Putin due to his former role as Chairman of Exxon Mobile.

A Russian Perspective

In my view Russia must be very happy with the Trump administration so far.

Trump’s moves to scuttle the Trans Pacific Partnership will likely trigger Chinese expansion in the Pacific which will inevitably increase the probability of conflict with the United States in that part of the World.

He has also questioned the future of NATO and threatened to reduce  the United States’ commitment to it thus improving Russia’s options in Eastern Ukraine and maybe the Baltic States.

His anti-muslim rhetoric is exactly what Russia needs to work its way back into the Middle East after years of losing ground to the U.S. in that part of the world.

Sakhalin -1
Sakhalin -1

Finally, Trump’s plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accords and tone down Obama’s commitments to alternative energy will also help the Russia’s energy industry overall as well as Exxon Mobile which operates the giant Sakhalin-1 gas field in the Russian Arctic.

Treason, Corruption and High Crimes and Misdemeanors

In another post a few weeks ago, I outlined what it takes to impeach a President and used the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton as an example of how the process worked.

The Trump administration has already gone over the line in mixing official business with his family’s real estate holdings and put his son in law, Jared Kushner into the front line of international diplomacy for which he has no experience.

Now it seems increasingly clear that his campaign team conspired with a foreign power to manipulate the election in his favour and that he and his cabinet are pursuing goals which are fundamentally in the interests of Russia and not of the United States of America.

Eventually Trump will say that he knew nothing of the misdeeds of his staff and, like Nixon, will miss the point. These men worked for Trump and he is responsible for what they have done to the American political process.

It is time for John McCain and republican lawmakers to step forward and protect the Republic. I’m sure they will get the support of the Democrats in the House and Senate.