The political mysteries of the moment are:
- Why did only half the eligible voters think our presidential election was worth turning out for?
- How did such an ill-informed unfit candidate become President of the United States?
- How did the Russians manage to meddle so effectively in our electoral process?
- Why doesn’t a Republican Congress that distrusts or at the least feels ambivalent about its President fully embrace an investigation into his possible collusion with the Russians?
American democratic traditions and institutions are under attack. The vultures are circling. Why haven’t our elected officials come together to thwart the attack and bring the nation together?
Last week, after four months of Congressional foot dragging, during which we watched the President fire all of the nation’s serving US Attorneys, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein decided to take the investigation of criminal wrongdoing away from a partisan, gutless Congress and appointed an independent Special Council. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s charge is to look into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election.
The undisputed Russian cyberattack was an act of war. It is inconceivable that an American president, notified by 17 intelligence agencies that a foreign power interfered in our election, would not counterattack with increased sanctions, countermeasures, and severed diplomatic relations. But… Donald Trump did not. In fact, he doubled down and invited the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the Oval Office along with a Russian television crew and excluded all American media. Is it any wonder this man is smiling?
America needs to know the truth. Did Trump and his campaigners collude with the Russians? Is he obstructing the investigation? What is he afraid of? What is he hiding? What is it that he doesn’t want us to see in his tax returns?
As Americans, we were raised to believe in a nation of laws and the rule of law. No one was to be above it. This President’s behavior is unacceptable – and so is Congress’s. The rule of law is in jeopardy. We need answers.
America has been through difficult periods since its birth. Revolution. Civil War. Scandals and hard times. I saw the effect of the Depression on my parents throughout their lives. As a child during WWII, I listened to daily reports of the war, the battle between democracy and fascism. I was around for the founding of Israel, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, the Nixon/Watergate scandal, the Clinton impeachment scandal, 9/11 and the rise of terrorism, the Arab Spring, the rabbit hole wars of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and now the emergence of Donald J. Trump. Once again we’re in dangerous waters.
Without historical perspective it’s difficult to judge how perilous these times are. So far we’ve only seen smoke and political posturing; scary and dramatic but not dangerously so. Congress is in a stupefied neutered state. Nothing is getting done, because the courts have prevented implementation of the President’s most draconian executive orders. But the signs of peril are ominous.
The suspension of protocols and traditions, a President ignorant of history and American government, and the appointment of ideological advisors make it seem especially perilous. So far, a cabinet cadre of former military leaders has prevented him from impulsive acts of aggression though he has been tested by North Korea and Syria since taking office.
The election threw the nation into shock. Hopefully the appointment of a Special Counsel will clear a path for functional government. The Russian inquiry will take time. We won’t know the outcome for months or maybe even years. Russian interference should never have been a partisan issue. It’s not a Republican or a Democratic issue; it’s a national issue. All three branches of government should be aggressively pursuing the truth. Foreign interference is a criminal act. The Russians interfered with our electoral process and every American should know the truth about it – why did they do it, who was involved, were any Americans implicated, and why?
If the Trump organization was involved in collusion with the Russians prior to the election they should be punished. If Congress and the Special Counsel move forward with their investigations, use the tools of discovery, exercise due diligence, and arrive at a conclusion – whatever the outcome – I will be overjoyed to know that the system is healthy. If Trump is guilty, I want to see him do the perp-walk in an orange jumpsuit. I won’t be pleased with a Pence presidency, but I won’t be afraid of the future for my children and grandchildren.
Director Mueller’s appointment is an important step in cleansing the process. Though he’s conducting an independent bipartisan investigation, it doesn’t absolve Congress of its responsibility. The FBI, Senate, and House investigations will continue with their own mandates. They will need staff and resources so they can uncover the facts as they relate to their own scope of inquiry. I trust they will get them.
It’s not that difficult. The process is simple but the work will be hard:
- Identify the problem (Russian interference and possible collusion)
- Investigate the problem (Congress, Special Counsel, and the FBI)
- Determine the facts (follow the money, check the paper trail, analyze surveillance, interrogate witnesses)
- Arrive at a conclusion.
Was there collusion or simply outside interference? Take appropriate action. We need to know.