One Day Of News Illustrates Trump’s Attack On Our Democracy
Frankly, I’m exhausted. The daily, nightly, hourly avalanche of shattering revelations about the oligarchic kleptocracy epitomized by the corruption, illegality, and autocratic tendencies of the Trump administration and aided, abetted and enabled by a Republican party that has lost any interest in defending our democracy and instead simply desires raw political power in pursuit of transferring wealth upward has left me simply worn out. Just in one day, yesterday, there were over half a dozen stories that highlight the above and deserve a post of their own. But it’s just too exhausting and before I even get through one or two posts, the next round of attacks on our democracy will come blasting across the airways. So here are some quick hits on yesterday’s items.
- Trump campaign had at least 18 contacts with Russians in the last few months before the election. The campaign had previously not disclosed the extent of these contacts and other campaigns have said this number of contacts is unusually high. Part of the purpose of these contacts was to create a backchannel between Trump and the Russians that would work outside of the normal national security apparatus. That backchannel became more important after Trump was elected and focused on lifting sanctions on Russia in return for cooperation on ISIS and containing China. Conclusion: Just more evidence of collusion with the Russians and the fact that Trump, his campaign, and his transition were attempting to subvert that official US position with regard to sanctions on Russia established by the then-current President Obama.
- On April 25th, in the middle of the multiple investigations into the Trump campaign and specifically Michael Flynn, who at that time was seeking immunity from congressional committees in return for testifying,, Trump sent a message to Flynn to “stay strong”. Conclusion: More evidence of Trump’s witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
- Rod Rosenstein admits to Senate committee that he knew Comey was going to be fired and willingly wrote the memo that was used as a pretext for his firing. That pretext was shown to be exactly that when Trump admitted he was firing Comey because of the “Russia thing” and his belief that Comey was not focusing on leaks. So Rosenstein knew that his memo was merely a justification for a decision that had already been made and willingly went along with it. That decision was to fire the man leading the investigation into Trump and his campaign. Conclusion: Rosenstein willingly abetted the President’s obstruction of justice. Additional Conclusion: Anyone who Trump deals with will have their reputations badly tarnished.
- Turkish President Erdogan orders the thugs who guard him to go out and beat up protesters in front of the Turkish embassy in Washington. There is additional video showing Erdogan giving an order to his guards who immediately go out and join the fray. Erdogan then emerged from his car to watch the melee. Yes, this happened in the United States of America. And the Trump administration was virtually silent about it, with no condemnation from either the State Department or from Trump. Trump has already shown his disdain for protesters, encouraging his supporters to attack them at rallies. Conclusion: Trump is comfortable with autocrats, will let them act with impunity inside the US, probably secretly desires to be able to do what Erdogan did, and attacks the democratic principle of free speech and free assembly.
- I have often wondered why the health insurers were so silent about the AHCA as it was making its way through the House. Once it passed the House, however, all of sudden health insurers had a lot to say about how it should be changed in the Senate. Now we know why. Apparently, Seema Vera, Trump’s head of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, tried to blackmail health insurers by telling them that Trump would continue to pay the CSRs, essentially subsidies paid directly to insurers, in return for backing the AHCA in the House. Please let that sink in. A top Trump administration official is blackmailing insurance companies and for purely partisan political reasons. Of course, the threat really made no sense if it was meant literally because it essentially said that Trump will take away your subsidies if you don’t support the bill to eliminate those subsidies. But the real point of the threat was simply to get Trump a “win” and get the AHCA passed in the House. And it worked as health insurers had virtual radio silence during the AHCA debate. Conclusion: Corruption in pursuit of Trump’s personal agenda is the norm in this administration from top to bottom.
- Jared Kushner personally intervenes to reduce the price of a missile system for Saudi Arabia. In the middle of negotiating a broader arms sale agreement to Saudi Arabia, Jared Kushner called the CEO of Lockheed, the maker of the anti-missile system, and asked her to reduce the price. The inappropriateness of this is self-evident. I wonder what the South Koreans, our supposed ally, are thinking. Trump is demanding that they pay the full price for the very same anti-missile system that was installed largely against the wishes of the South Koreans. Why aren’t they getting the discount. Perhaps, that may be because the Trump Organization is desperately trying to expand its presence in the Middle East or that the Kushner family is desperately trying to raise money to save its failed office building in New York or that the Trump family has trademarks pending in Saudi Arabia. In addition, imagine the outcry we would have heard from Republicans about interfering in the free hand of commerce if Obama had done this. Lastly, this doesn’t sound like America First. Not only is a US company going to get less money than it should but it is also going to be just another “bad trade deal” simply because we didn’t maximize value. Conclusion: Never underestimate the ad-hoc decision making of this administration with no thought to other potential ramifications; never underestimate the hypocrisy of this administration and the Republican party; and never allow any decision that this administration makes not to be viewed through a lens of potential corruption.
Potential treason, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice by the President, attacks on the free press and the right to free assembly, and corruption at all levels of the administration all indicate how our democracy is under attack. It’s just one day in the Trump administration.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on May 19, 2017.