Monthly Archives: May 2017

Congressional Republicans, Trump, and Russia

Once, again, I will have to editorialize. Because once again, I have too much of an emotional response to just report facts.

Yesterday, two very important things came to light. The first was that Trump’s transition team was aware that Michael Flynn was being investigated by the FBI for his ties to Russia and Turkey, but hired him and National Security Advisor anyway. The second is that House Republicans have had their doubts about Trump and knew that he was a potential national security risk, and backed him anyway.

I’ve said it before, but the more I hear about this administration and members of this congress, the more I fear that partisanship and politics has replaced any actual care for the American people. Our public servants seem to have forgotten that they work for us. We’re not just votes, we’re people who cast those votes in the hopes that the names on the ballots would do what is in our best interest. Anyway, on to the stories that broke yesterday.

First off, Michael Flynn told the Trump administration that he was being investigated. He personally told them, so it wasn’t speculation or hearsay. But the vetting process for this president has been so lax, and the standard of qualification so low, that they hired Flynn anyway. As National Security Advisor. Like in what world does it make sense for a man who has his loyalties in question, and has actually admitted to illegal lobbying for a foreign nation (Turkey) to be a national security advisor? It’s reasonable to assume that his advice wouldn’t always be for our nation. Instead of not considering Flynn for the job at all, and moving on to an actually qualified candidate, Trump and the members of his team seemed to think that it was enough to know about the investigation.

But not only did they know about the investigation, they lied about knowing about it. Sally Yates, Barack Obama, and other members of the FBI and Justice Department told the Trump team that Flynn was not a good choice because of the ongoing investigation. This too was disregarded. But when it came to light the Flynn was under investigation, every one in the transition team, and Trump himself, claimed ignorance. I’m gonna skip ahead here, because this is an important point I don’t think enough people have mentioned. Because of the information about Trump’s connection to Russia that I mentioned in the previous post, many people are whispering about impeachment. Here’s the problem with that: Mike Pence is the Vice President and second in line for the presidency. But he was head of the transition team and said on TV that he knew nothing about the Flynn’s ties to Russia and Turkey. If that’s true, he is almost as dumb as Trump. He was head of the team and somehow knew nothing? Also, the head of the DOJ sent a memo detailing Flynn’s investigation directly to him. So if he still knew nothing, he’s as lazy as Trump and didn’t read an important document that was send right to his desk. And if none of the above are true, then he knew and he lied to us about it. Is there anyone on the right willing to stand up for us, even if it’s not the popular thing to do? Are any of them willing to be the one who goes agains the crowd and does the right thing, instead of the politically smart thing? DO any of them care about us anymore?

So, Trump and his transition team lied. But even now, this is something that the American people are unfortunately no longer surprised about. But what about the Representatives, that are specifically elected to represent our interests state by state? Surely they are willing to stand up for us even if the executive side of the government is untrustworthy, right? Wrong.

It was reported yesterday by The Washington Post that House Republicans had their suspicions about Trump’s affiliation with Vladimir Putin from the beginning. In 2016, a month before Trump secured the nomination, someone secretly taped a private meeting with GOP members in which the then House majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said “I think Putin pays Trump.” This statement garnered some laughter, to which McCarthy quickly responded: “Swear to God.” Paul Ryan, the current House Majority Leader then said that there were to be ‘no leaks’ and that that was how they knew they were ‘all family.’ The most important aspect of this exchange is that no one ever said “that can’t be true.” Instead, the focus was on making sure the conversation never was leaked.

This is what’s crazy about this who thing: not only no one in the entire transcript ever deny that it was a possibility, but again they lied about it. Paul Ryan fervently denied that this was ever said, until he was made aware that a tape existed. Then he changed his tune, saying that yes, it was said, but it was a joke.

This is  not a joke to us. Our elected officials had reason to believe that the man they were about to nominate to be the leader of the free world was on another country’s payroll-not just any country either, our frenemy, Russia. And they nominated him anyway. And then they lied about it. 

When will the American people be put first again? When will our leaders actually lead, and not be the doormats for men with no loyalty and no sense? When can we trust the people we voted for for protection, to actually protect us? Especially when it seems it’s them we need protection from. 

Trump, His Admin., and Russia

This was a long time coming also, and the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of non-stop disconcerting news about our commander in chief and his ties to Russia. I absolutely have to editorialize, even though I usually just sort of report what I think is interesting, because you can’t write this stuff. So my editorializations will be in bold.

The suspected collusion with Russia on the part of Donald Trump began on the campaign trail, when he ‘jokingly’ asked Russia to interfere with the election and hack into government property to find Hilary Clinton’s emails. Come to find out, the Russians actually did interfere in the American election. Suddenly, it was looking like less of a joke.

Then both Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions were removed, Flynn from his position as National Security Advisor and Sessions (though still Attorney General) had to recuse himself from Flynn’s investigation because he himself had questionable ties to Russia. The entire time his administration was in question, Trump never said a bad word about Vladimir Putin. In fact, he has praised the dictator on many occasions. This alone should have been enough, in my opinion, for the House and Senate Republicans to at least pull a little of their support. But in today’s America, unfortunately, partisanship is king.

This all happened months ago, but last week, the worrying saga continued. Russian officials visited the White House, and while no American press were allowed in to photograph the event, the Russian press was permitted to attend. At this meeting, Donald Trump personally leaked sensitive information about ISIS and US anti-terrorist strategies that could endanger the informants who risk their lives to give us this information. Whether he was trying to brag about having sensitive information or if he purposely handed over this intel is unclear, but both are equally plausible in my opinion. I’d say he was just impulsively egotistical and desperate to show off, were it not for what happened next. The very next day, Trump fired James Comey, the FBI Director who was investigating his ties to Russia. Ostensibly, Comey was fired for ‘mishandling’ the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s emails. Obviously, if it was about Comey’s handling of Clinton’s investigation, he’d have been fired as soon as Trump got into the White House. But it was clearly about Flynn and Russia, who for some reason Trump is determined to protect. However, sure enough, in a later interview with Lester Holt, Trump said that Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation. This alone raised eyebrows about obstruction of justice, but this week the 24-hour news cycle was packed with even more information and even possible hard evidence that could put Trump’s presidency in jeopardy.

It has now come to light that Comey wrote a memo, as many high ranking officials and FBI employees are wont to do, that detailed a meeting with Donald Trump before he was fired. Trump reportedly made everyone else, including Sessions and Pence leave the room before asking Comey to ‘let Flynn go’ -in other words, stop the investigation-on account of he (Flynn) being ‘a good guy.’ Trump also asked Comey to ‘swear loyalty to him.’ Like he’s some sort of king or dictator! Every time Trump does something questionable, his team’s only defense of his actions is to reiterate that he has the ‘authority’ to do whatever crazy thing he’s done. But having the ability to do something doesn’t automatically make it the right or prudent course of action. Also, this is America, a democracy where title doesn’t automatically guarantee a person to get respect. This is what I think Trump doesn’t understand. I think he literally thought once he was president, he’d be automatically loved. The fact that it’s not true gets to him, since he constantly mentions ‘winning the popular vote’ (which he definitely didn’t), and is infuriated by the media’s criticism of him. The media and the American people are itching to see this memo, as it could be considered evidence. Memos have been considered credible by courts in the past. Trump tried to threaten Comey in a tweet, saying he’d “better hope there were no ‘tapes’ of their conversation.” This backfired though, because since catching wind of Comey’s memo, we all would love it if there was a tape. Put up or shut up, Mr. President. 

The memo has a chance of being introduced, as  there  was finally enough suspicion for Congress to pressure the US Department of Justice into appointing a special and most importantly independent investigator into Trump’s Russian connections. Former FBI Chief Robert Mueller has been praised by both Democrats and Republicans as highly qualified to run this investigation.

The suspicion of Trump and his campaign and  his administration’s collusion with Russia had been planted in the minds of Americans since his days on the campaign trail, when he directly asked Russia to interfere. Then, before he’d even reached 100 days, his national security advisor was being investigated because of the connection and his Attorney General had to recuse himself from said investigation because of his own meetings with Russian officials. Trump himself has never said a bad word about Vladimir Putin, and I’m sure if he thought long and hard the could come up with a few. Despite all this mounting evidence, Trump this morning has insisted that the investigation, which will now be carried out by someone he can’t fire, is a ‘witchhunt.’

I’m worried and embarrassed for us. We can’t even trust our own leaders, and I’m tired of feeling like I have to root against my own government.

 

The French Election

After how our elections turned out in November, the world held it’s breath for the results of the French elections. With one candidate, Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European liberal, and the other, Marine Le Pen, on the far-right, this was a diversion from the usual French politics. Traditionally, the leaders of France have been either members of the Socialist party or the centre-right. But like the US, a new wave of populism has taken over and caused a deviation from politics as usual.

Macron vs Le Pen

Most people following the French election remarked that Marine Le Pen, who ran on an anti-terrorist platform that rhetorically mimicked Donald Trump’s attacks on Islam and Muslims around the world while he was on the campaign trail in America. She also was in the shadow of her father, who was a Holocaust denier and self-professed anti-Semitic. Similarly, Trump and members of his cabinet have “mis-remembered” aspects of the Holocaust. Le Pen eventually denounced her father’s racist remarks, but her delay followed her in the public perception throughout the election. Le Pen also campaigned as an anti-establishment candidate and a nationalist, which was the most important aspect to the global community. She praised Brexit, which some feel destabilized the EU. Le Pen wanted France to be less involved in Europe and the EU. Her nationalist approach to politics was also reminiscent of Donald Trump’s philosophy during the 2016 electoral process. It is all of these attributes that led people around the world to remark that Marine Le Pen was a “female Trump.”

Macron Victory

Ultimately Le Pen was defeated by Emmanuel Macron, in a sweeping victory. Macron, tho youngest president in French history, ran on a platform of strength and continued attempts at unity in the face of the recent terrorist attacks France has experienced. He also wanted France to be more involved in the affairs of Europe and the European Union. In the second round of voting, Macron polled at 60% over Le Pen. He then decisively triumphed on May 7, 2017. It is significant to note that, like in the US, many eligible voters abstained from voting at all. Nevertheless, 66% of voters preferred Macron’s plan to loosen labor laws, and make France more globally competitive as well as more intwined with the European Union, which calmed fears of global economic instability. Macron, in his victory speech, promised to do what was necessary to combat terrorism

French Election Party 2

After Macron’s victory, a rave was held at the Louvre in the country’s capital of Paris. Videos of the victory party have made many-including myself-yearn for a similar response to political victory in the US (as soon as we deserve it).

 

French Election PartyRave at Louvre