Facing #Treason, Trump Appointees Should Shed Their Savior Complex [Update: 7/22] | Blog#42

Facing #Treason, Trump Appointees Should Shed Their Savior Complex [Update: 7/22] | Blog#42

The fallout from Donald Trump’s treasonous performance in Helsinki, and since, will continue to unfold for quite some time. Today, we are learning many things. Chief among them are the facts that, a) the GOP still largely stands behind its president and, b) whatever it is Trump’s meeting with Putin was really for, this was a solo mission.

Headline:

Top intel chief: I don’t know what Trump, Putin discussed in meeting

““You’re right, I don’t know what happened in that meeting,” Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum.

“I think that as time goes by — the president has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting — I think we will learn more,” he said, “but that is the president’s prerogative.”

Coats added that he would have advised Trump against meeting one-on-one with Putin, but added “that’s not my role.””

As Intelligence Chief, among other things, it is precisely Coats’ job to advise sternly admonish the president about the security risks posed by the president’s choices. Coats’ wording “if he had asked me…” points to the likelihood that Trump never conferred with Coats or, if he did, didn’t bring up having alone time with Vlad. While it is true that the president has wide discretion, there are ways of conducting presidential business and, generally, it is unheard of that presidents go around their top appointees. Coats is a top-level appointee in a crucial position.

Then, when Andrea Mitchell broke the news to Coats that Trump is inviting Putin to the White House this fall, Coats didn’t hide his contempt:


Salt Lake Tribune columnist, on Sunday, called on Ambassador Jon Huntsman to resign. If Dan Coats was left in the dark, how likely is it that Huntsman was not?

Update: Jon Huntsman, who most famously made a hat in hand pilgrimage to Trump Tower to interview for a job during the post-election transition, has just announced he will not resign. Politico reports:

“In an op-ed posted Saturday night in The Salt Lake Tribune, which his brother owns and publishes, the former Utah governor emphasized that his diplomatic staff was too focused on issues like nuclear weapons, Ukraine and Syria “to obsess over politics.”

“I have taken an unscientific survey among my colleagues … about whether I should resign,” he added. “The laughter told me everything I needed to know.”

Huntsman, a onetime Republican presidential contender, was responding directly to a column by the Tribune’s Robert Gehrke, who had written last week, “you work for a pawn, not a president. It’s time to come home.”

Unlike Mitt Romney, who also made the same pilgrimage but didn’t score the job Rex Tillerson ended up nabbing, Huntsman isn’t willing to shed his inner messiah and doesn’t seem to have come to the obvious conclusion that continuing to serve President Trump is abetting a traitor and an administration rife with corruption.

Since Rex Tillerson’s departure from the State Department, with the exception of the physical aspects and grunt work of diplomacy, it is Donald Trump who has been acting as Secretary of State. At best, Pompeo has been acting as the under-secretary for North Korea. While Mike Pompeo was present with Trump in Helsinki, he was, quite obviously, relegated to the role of flunkie, or Melania’s escort.

Compare the countenances of Pompeo and Huntsman to Sergei Lavrov’s?

In the year and a half that Trump has been president, the pattern that has emerged is this one: if not a family member, and if not in charge of an area Trump has no interest in, high level appointees have lasted a year, at most. With the exception of Tillerson, no Trump official has left in protest. Gary Cohn was essentially done after the passage of the Tax Scam Bill. Everyone else left in shame.

As things get worse, appointees who are still talked about in terms of “men of honor” should do the honorable thing: resign and tell the world why.

John Kelly. who is said to be leaving this summer, was reported to have gone to members of Congress privately, and asked them to censure Trump for his private meeting and subsequent press conference with Putin. Kelly could quit now, not give notice, and publicly call for Congress to censure the president. Why continue to protect a traitor’s honor?

As the nation obsesses over trying to figure out what it is that Vladimir Putin has on Trump, our time would be much better spent understanding why. Trump, in the end, is only one chess piece on Putin’s board. It is quite clear from the bits and pieces that have been revealed of Robert Mueller’s investigation, Putin’s operation doesn’t stop at installing his own mole president. Putin had his GRU work very hard to corrupt many elected Republicans over the last few years. So, why?

“Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.”

Vladimir Putin, April 2005

This is mostly about payback, with a healthy dose of oligarchy mixed in. What Putin has done isn’t a case of getting lucky and catching Trump on a pee-pee tape during a business trip to Moscow. The New York Times, in its reviews and op-ed bashings of Oliver Stone’s Showtime documentary of Vladimir Putin, was wrong in determining that it is devoid of any value. Quite to the contrary, the documentary offers a very valuable window into Putin’s mindset and motives.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union was indeed a monumental milestone in Russian history. To deny that it was traumatic and formative, both to its people and leadership, is part and parcel of the side-effects of America’s belief in exceptionalism and a “savior complex” many of its leaders suffer from, as a result.

Whatever Putin’s motivation for corrupting American politics and taking active part to undermine its electoral process, cooperation or collusion by Americans with Putin, the GRU, and various other front organizations and people, all are acts of treason. Full stop.

There are those on the left and on the libertarian side who have taken an odd position. Glenn Greenwald, for example, in a debate on Russian meddling, tells Democracy Now:

“If we continue on with this kind of evidence-free fairytale that Russia has installed a Manchurian candidate in Washington and is controlling the strings of the U.S. government, as exciting as that is to believe, I think our discourse is going to continue to go wildly off base.”


Meanwhile, Katrina Van Den Heuvel, Publisher of The Nation, tells Democracy Now:

“To me, there were three points that I come out of. One is that the investigation into Russian interference in our election must continue, must be protected, that our electoral system must be strengthened so that it is free and fair. That’s going to be a lot of work. And number three is that we don’t isolate Russia, we engage. And that does not mean legitimizing an authoritarian leader. We have an American authoritarian, they’ve got a Russian authoritarian. But it does mean understanding the context of two countries holding 90 percent of the nuclear weapons, that The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock a minute or so ahead. Midnight is doomsday. We’re a more perilous situation than we have been in since the Cuban missile crisis. So, I think we need to step back.

And I think it’s worth asking, in the context of media, Amy, which you raised in the treatment of Sam Husseini: Where were other alternative voices? There are alternative voices in this country, which could have touched a different note, one of more—that Sam was raising: discussions of a nuclear weapon ban treaty, or what do we do about to truly resolve the conflict in Syria, and not just let Putin and Trump issue talking points about what they were going to do. How do we resolve Ukraine? These were issues that came up, but it was partly because it was a summit of such low expectations, under siege from the beginning, but also loose planning, that the press conference became talk. And how it moves forward is hard to see, considering the assault on the idea of a U.S.-Russian engagement process moving forward.”


Both journalists would be correct on many aspects of their analyses of Russo-American relations, nuclear disarmament, diplomacy, and a host of geopolitical issues were it not for the fact that the main actors in this play are Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Had some other American become president, and had they been dealing with Mikhail Gorbachev or some leader in his mold, then it would be one thing. But we are talking about the two most corrupt, most destabilizing people on the planet. These are not the leaders we need or want to alter the course. While it is undeniable that American foreign policy has pretty much followed in the same path, from forcing the breakup of the USSR, invading Iraq and deposing its leader without any plans whatsoever to rebuild it, getting involved in Afghanistan and, later, Libya, without an exit strategy, clearly is a case of repeating the same mistake with the expectation of a different end result. Trump and Putin aren’t the ones who will correct mistakes of the past.

So, while not a fan of John O. Brennan, I cannot disagree with his reaction to the Helsinki summit:

America is in a terrible bind. Aside from having a president who is compromised and under the control of a foreign government, it is also completely under the control of a party that is completely corrupt and mostly under the influence of right-wing oligarchs, as well as whatever disruption machine Vladimir Putin put together to disrupt our democracy through conduits like the NRA, which is an organization that has been dominant in our politics and judiciary.

There is nothing inherently wrong with aspiring to better relations with Russia. There is everything wrong with the mere suggestion, given what we’ve been witnessing for the past week, that we should give Donald Trump a chance to prove himself.  Not this American president; not with that Russian leader. When even George Will calls for Republicans to vote Democrat, you know the GOP has reached the end of the line.

There is also everything wrong with appointed officials and civil servants remaining in positions that support what our treasonous president is doing, under the self-delusion that if they leave, things will fall apart. Newsflash: things are falling apart. Every minute people like John Kelly, Mike Pompeo, Jon Huntsman, and Dan Coats remain in their positions, the agony that is the Trump presidency is prolonged. The sooner they and others leave, the sooner Trump will come crashing down. Neither of these men, alone or together, are saviors. Trump’s presidency of corruption, white supremacy, and ignorance will not be saved. It is doomed to fail sooner or later.


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Related:

My weekly curation of the week’s news about all of the rollbacks done by Congress, Trump administration officials and Trump himself, since day one.

Politico’s Running List Of What Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking [Updated 7/21/18] | Blog#42

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