History can often be a cruel taskmaster.
Since the Katyn Forest Massacre, paranoid Joseph Stalin purges, the nuclear arms race and the gulag forced labor camps publicized by Alexander Solzhenitsyn became common knowledge, there has been a strong distrust by the United States intelligence community of Russia, and before that of the Soviet Union.
For instance, long before the end of World War II in August 1945, we knew the Soviet Union was working feverishly to develop its own atomic arsenal. In 1993, historians gained access to archives in the Kremlin revealing that espionage by scientists at Los Alamos friendly to the Soviet Union was quite extensive. No fewer than 15 individuals working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, before the final Trinity test were ferreting top secret details of the bomb to Soviet intelligence agents in the United States.
Which brings me to the point of this column — the U.S. Constitution defines treason as “specific acts, namely levying War against (the United States), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Furthermore, the emoluments clause (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of our Constitution) makes it a federal crime to accept anything of value from a foreign power. In the case of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, he is an enemy of the United States and freedom-loving peoples around the world.
By the spring of 2016, American intelligence had substantive evidence Russia was using every means at its disposal to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. A June 9, 2016, meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort with Russian agent Natalia Veselnitskaya to get “dirt” Putin’s intelligence apparatus had allegedly uncovered on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton only confirmed the intelligence community’s suspicions.
Once Trump was elected president, Barack Obama — waiting until the last moment to avoid the appearance of interfering in the election himself — expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shutdown two halfway houses in New York and Maryland used by those same agents orchestrating cyberattacks on Democratic computer systems and infiltrating social media to affect the outcome of the 2016 election. Then FBI Director James Comey and his agents had probable cause to insist Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoint special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Trump’s campaign, believing it had been infiltrated by Russian agents.
No fewer than eight of Donald Trump’s associates including his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and close personal friend, Roger Stone, either pleaded guilty or were convicted of violating federal laws.
Did Donald Trump break the law? The investigation did not conclude that he had committed a crime, but neither did it exonerate him.
Even diehard Trump supporters will admit Donald Trump has been reluctant to criticize Vladimir Putin’s murderous tactics directed at political opponents and blatant Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. Subsequently, theories abound as to Trump’s kumbaya attitude toward Putin and Russian aggression. Speculation includes Russian intelligence has evidence capable of blackmailing Trump; the president’s authoritarian tendencies, which mirror Putin’s total disregard for the rule of law; and Russian oligarchs underwriting a multimillion-dollar loan from Deutsche Bank acquired just before Trump’s election.
I’m no Clinton lover and refuse to defend Bill Clinton’s despicable behavior as president. Nonetheless, Vladimir Putin and Trump are even worse — men never to be trusted. By now some Americans have learned this lesson the hard way.
Jean Griffith lives in Carthage.