We really are in “never never” land. It is impossible to draw innocent conclusions from yesterday’s press conference following Trump’s private meeting with Vladimir Putin. During yet another incoherent and unhinged rant, the President insulted America’s intelligence community and insisted that he believed Putin’s denials of election interference.
The “summit” with Putin came on the heels of disastrous meetings during which Trump insulted America’s closest allies and inflicted significant damage on important American alliances. In stark contrast, he absolutely fawned over Putin– even after Putin made a point of coming 45 minutes late to their meeting, a public signal of disrespect that somehow didn’t enrage our notoriously thin-skinned POTUS.
At this point in the surreal saga that has been the Trump presidency, there is no longer any doubt about Russia’s interference in the American election. That case has been made over and over by American Intelligence officials, most recently, Dan Coats. It has been confirmed by the mounting number of detailed indictments filed and guilty pleas obtained by Bob Mueller.
Over at Vox, Ezra Klein has an exhaustive (and damning) list of what we now absolutely know.Not what we speculate, not what we surmise, but what we know.
Nevertheless, as Klein noted,
Standing next to Putin, Trump turned on America’s intelligence services, and again mused about how much better it might have been if Russia had cracked Clinton’s server and gotten her documents.
So while the entire world was watching, the President of the United States attacked agents of his own country and administration– and gave Putin a big wet kiss.
Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.
Everything that happened in Helsinki today only reinforces that conclusion. My fellow Americans, we are in trouble and we have some big decisions to make today. This was a historic moment in the entire history of the United States.
There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
A Manchurian candidate committing intentional treason would have been more skillful. Even if–as a friend of mine posits–the Russian oligarchs who have financed Trump for years have him “by the short hairs”– the stupidity displayed at the press conference was counterproductive. This clumsy and irrational performance just adds to the already overwhelming amount of evidence that (while he may or not be a knowing Russian asset) Trump is definitely seriously mentally ill.
The real question is: what will Congressional Republicans do with this incontrovertible, in-your-face evidence of traitorous behavior? How long can they pretend he is either competent or acting in America’s interests? As Friedman says,
Every single Republican lawmaker will be — and should be — asked on the election trail: Are you with Trump and Putin or are you with the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A.?
As former CIA chief John Brennan tweeted,
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
Where indeed? They sure aren’t from Indiana. And I haven’t noticed much in the way of patriotism from other Republicans currently serving in the House or Senate.
The refusal of an American President to honor his oath of office–his refusal to protect and defend our country– is a Constitutional crisis. If GOP lawmakers continue to put their own interests and those of their party above their duty to the country, if they continue to abet this President’s erratic and treasonous behavior, history will not be kind to them.
Hopefully, neither will the voters.