On this Fourth of July, 2018, a brief check-in on the state of our nation’s independence seems in order:

  • In March of 2016, Paul Manafort became Chairman of the Trump Campaign. Manafort’s most recent job was working for pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
  • In May of 2016, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign boasted in a London bar to an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
  • In June of 2016, a respected former British intelligence agent, serving as a subcontractor doing opposition research on Donald Trump (which was ultimately paid for by the Clinton Campaign), uncovered an unthinkable plot by Russia to help elect Donald Trump, who the Kremlin believed they could blackmail. Out of a sense of responsibility to a British ally, he reported his findings to the FBI.
  • After hacked Clinton e-mails were made public leading into the July 2016 Democratic Convention, Australia told U.S. intelligence of the conversation between George Popadopoulos and their diplomat.
  • In 2017, the FBI, CIA, and NSA determined that Russia had in fact interfered in the 2016 election, with the goals of sowing discord and chaos, dismantling western alliances, and electing Donald Trump President.
  • On April 27, 2018, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee concluded its investigation into Trump-Russia, asserting that there was no evidence of cooperation between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin. Democrats on the Committee issued a rebuttal, stating that no such conclusion could be drawn and that the committee leadership had avoided pursuing key evidence and witnesses.
  • Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Devin Nunes, are continuing to investigate the possibility of inappropriate or illegal behavior by the agencies investigating Trump-Russia.
  • The President has acted in ways that alienate our western allies, has urged that Russia be brought back into the G7, and has expressed little more than a lukewarm willingness to continue in NATO (after previously declaring it obsolete). The only time that NATO has taken military action was to help the U.S. after we were attacked on 9/11.
  • To date, President Trump has done little to solicit, require or authorize actions that could prevent Russia from meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.
  • As recently as June 28, 2018, the President tweeted “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election! “
  • President Trump regularly calls the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt.” In a little over a year, the investigation has produced five guilty pleas and 17 indictments, including Paul Manafort.
  • Yesterday, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee announced its agreement with U.S. intelligence that Russia did interfere in the 2016 to help elect Donald Trump.
  • Fox News, Alex Jones, and numerous other right wing news sources use their freedom of speech/freedom of the press to put out a daily diet of “alternative facts” in which the President can do no wrong, and in which the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are part of a “deep state” conspiracy to destroy the President – and along with him all hope of an American government that truly serves the people.
  • Our nation is deeply divided and misinformation is rampant.
  • Currently, seven Senators from the Appropriations Committee (responsible for allocating tax dollars to U.S. government agencies and departments) and one House Appropriations Committee member – all Republicans – are in Moscow. No Democrats have been invited. The extent to which these legislators have addressed election meddling has been a brief, passing, and milktoast “one should not interfere in elections.”
  • On July 16, 2018, President Trump will meet alone with Vladimir Putin.

Today, we Americans celebrate our independence.

– rob rünt

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