What Comes After?

It is looking more and more like the President of the United States is a Russian asset. I use the word “asset” deliberately, because it leaves open the degree to which Donald Trump may knowingly be acting for the Russians. That is the connection that still is lacking in publicly available information. We can surmise a financial connection, and we know that people around Trump worked with Russians in very suspicious ways, some demonstrably illegal. But we don’t have a record of Trump directing them or taking phonecalls from Vladimir Putin with his instructions.

But Adam’s question is a good one: How would Trump act differently if he were a Russian asset? And I can’t come up with anything to the contrary. Nor, to extend Adam’s post, can I think of another scenario that so well fits Trump’s actions and what has been revealed in criminal cases so far.

I’ve struggled with this for months. I just don’t want to believe that we, as a country, were stupid enough to get scammed this way. I don’t want to believe that there is a large possibility that Republican refusal to act may mean that much of that party has been compromised. That’s not my America!

I think this is difficult for everyone, but we have to start thinking about what we do if we learn that Trump is owned by the Russians, whether stupidly or happy to work with them. Elected officials who are not owned need to start thinking about this. Those in the government bureaucracy need to start thinking about this.

We will need truth and reconciliation commissions. We will need trials. We will need to look at the governance of the last few years.

Dana Houle has been a Democratic congressional chief of staff and campaign manager. Last night he tweeted some of the questions we are likely to face. I’ve put them in narrative form.

  • Are laws signed by an asset of a foreign adversary legitimate? Do we abrogate those laws?
  • What do we do about judges & other officials, appointed to long or even lifetime positions, by an asset of a foreign adversary?
  • Why did a Repub-only contingent of US Senators travel to Russia last year?
  • Why did Paul Ryan tell Kevin McCarthy to not talk about Trump being paid by Russia?
  • What do other countries’ intel agencies know RE Trump that congress doesn’t?
  • Has Trump revealed codes/specs to Putin?
  • Why was one of Trump’s first acts upon entering the WH to fire the WH cyber security staff?
  • Who else in our gov’t and national leadership is compromised by Russians or allied foreign powers?
  • Has Trump been given info to compromise other political actors?
  • Have any of Trump’s attacks on corporations come from goading or directives by the Russians?
  • Who has been placed in the administration bc of the Russians?
  • Is anyone in the US press compromised by Russians?
  • Does Trump’s legal team include co-conspirators?
  • What does the military know about Trump & Russia?
  • How intertwined is Russian influence/control over Trump w Russian use of DC/Wall St law firms/financial orgs/lobbying firms?

I’m sure you can think of others. I know I can, starting with what happened at the Helsinki meeting between Trump and Putin, after which Trump looked whipped.

 



Sally Q. Yates On Who We Are As A Country

Sally Yates is, of course, the person who warned that Michael Flynn was compromised and then was removed as Acting Attorney General of the United States.

At some point, we are going to have to decide to live together in this country. Looking back to the Constitution is not a bad way to do that.

Yes, there are people who have bizarre ideas of what is in the Constitution. But that makes it all the more important to talk about it now. And we need to be able to call out the violations now in progress.

But while we have too often fallen short, we have remained dedicated to our defining principles in our resolve to form a more perfect union. These principles have remained if not fully who we are, at least who we seek to be.

Despite our differences, we as Americans have long held a shared vision of what our country means and what values we expect our leaders to embrace. Today, our continued commitment to these unifying principles is needed more than ever.

She does a nice gloss on the preamble and then adds some other thoughts.

And there is something else that separates us from an autocracy, and that’s truth. There is such a thing as objective truth. We can debate policies and issues, and we should. But those debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarizing rhetoric and fabrications.

Not only is there such a thing as objective truth, failing to tell the truth matters. We can’t control whether our public servants lie to us. But we can control whether we hold them accountable for those lies or whether, in either a state of exhaustion or to protect our own political objectives, we look the other way and normalize an indifference to truth.

Read the whole thing.

I’m as angry as anyone, but when push comes to shove, we’re not going to be able to demand apologies or loyalty oaths from those who have supported unconstitutional actions. Some of those at the top, yes. But the historical reality is that some will apologize, some will quietly change sides, and others will actively try to hide their collaboration. I still think that a truth and reconciliation commission will be the best. We need to preserve our values in our own minds for now, so that we’re ready to deal with that later.

And yay Sally Yates! The model of a civil servant!

Open thread.