Home National Politics Why Is Our Commander-in-Chief AWOL On Russia? (Message to Trump Supporters)

Why Is Our Commander-in-Chief AWOL On Russia? (Message to Trump Supporters)


On Saturday, I posted here a piece titled Trump is Showing He’s Putin’s Man: A Real-World Version of “The Manchurian Candidate.” That piece was written at a white heat, in the way the ideas spontaneously came to me.

But as I indicated in the introductory remarks, I planned to recraft those ideas into a form suitable for sending the message to Trump supporters that their man has been betraying the nation right before their eyes.

Here is that newly crafted message, which will be appearing this week in newspapers in my very red congressional district (VA-06).

As I said on Saturday, this new version represents my own effort to do what I call for at the end of that piece: i.e., to use the opportune moment created by Mueller’s indictment of the 13 Russians “to rouse Americans against this President who, James Risen has just suggested, is looking like a traitor.” 


Why Is Our Commander-in-Chief AWOL On Russia?

Last week, the United States Department of Justice announced the indictments of 13 Russians who were part of the Russian attack on our American elections. So rich and full was the picture painted in the 37-page indictments of these Russians – and their attempts to sow discord and to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton — that whatever room there ever may have been to deny Russian meddling is gone forever.

Soon thereafter, President Trump tweeted: “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election … The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia…”

Trump seems unaware how thoroughly –in that very tweet — he is damning himself.

If Trump really has recognized that Putin’s regime has been engaging cyber-war against the heart of our constitutional order, why has this President done absolutely nothing to protect the United States from an attack?

 (An attack that American intelligence tells us is continuing unchecked, as our next elections approach.)

Trump has been President for more than a year. But Trump has said nothing, and done nothing, to respond to these attacks by Putin’s regime.

Being President means being America’s commander-in-chief. Throughout our history, Americans have always been able to look to our commander-in-chief to lead us when a hostile power (like Russia) commits a hostile act (like this cyber-warfare election meddling) against the United States.

But not this time. Not from Trump, who stands aside while Putin’s regime attacks our democracy.

“Trump’s Silence Leaves Struggle Against Russia Without Leader.” That was the main headline on the New York Times website at the same time as Trump was tweeting to defend himself against the charge of collusion with our Russian attackers. Tweets that, despite the indictments, still said nothing whatever against the Russians.

Why is Trump – otherwise so combative – AWOL, leaving us leaderless, when it comes to defending the United States against Putin’s attack on the United States?

A few months back, Congress passed a law that required Trump to impose new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for their attack on this country. Not only did it pass, it passed nearly unanimously, with the support of nearly every member of both parties.

But the deadline for Trump to impose those sanctions came and went, but Trump did nothing. With that failure to act, Trump not only violated that law, but he also violated his oath of office in which the President swears he “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Congress wanted to punish Russia for its cyber-war attack on America, using the sanctions to punish the hostile power attacking us. Why doesn’t Trump share that desire? Why has Trump chosen to protect Putin and his gang from Congress, rather than protect the United States from Putin’s gangster regime?

Isn’t Trump’s refusal –since he became President — to defend America against Putin’s regime in itself a form of collusion— not hidden, but in plain sight?

What explains Trump’s acting more like an agent of Putin’s than like the commander-in-chief of the United States?

Does Trump’s failure to lead in that “Struggle Against Russia” have anything to do with the fact – long known, but also clearly documented in these indictments – that the Russian regime worked hard to help Trump win the presidency?

Which raises the question, Why were the Russians so interested in helping Trump?

It’s no longer possible to believe that it was just anti-Hillary, though we know that Putin hated her. We now know (also from these recent detailed indictments) that they picked Trump as their guy early on—at least early enough to help Trump defeat his Republican rivals. We know that the Russians used their propaganda tools against his main rivals for the nomination, Rubio and Cruz.

What did the Russians expect from a Trump presidency that motivated them to help him reach the White House? Were they in a position to blackmail Trump into doing their bidding? Or did Trump enter into some deal with Putin, a kind of deal with the devil where Trump got help in gaining the power he wanted in exchange for doing Putin’s bidding (in certain ways, like not interfering with the Russian attack on the United States)?

I’m sure that in most ways, Trump is not looking for direction from Putin. But it does seem that there are boundaries that Trump does not cross, and they are boundaries where Putin would have drawn them. (Boundaries like “Don’t get in the way of our attack on American democracy.” And “Don’t criticize Putin.”)

If there’s any benign explanation of Trump’s actions and inactions, I cannot imagine it.

Instead, this looks like a real-life version of the Cold War movie, The Manchurian Candidate—which focuses on the danger that an agent of a hostile power might become President of the United States.

In that film, made in the aftermath of the Korean War, the “foreign agent” is pitiable rather than evil: as a POW, he was brainwashed by the Red Chinese. What excuse can Trump have for serving our nation’s enemy?

One major difference between the film and the real-world version: in the movie, America was ultimately saved from having the enemy’s man actually succeed in gaining the power of the presidency. In this real-world scenario, our enemy’s choice has actually ascended to power.

America needs for it patriots to look closely at this picture of Trump acting like he’s Putin’s man. I’m sure that’s not what any patriotic Americans had in mind when they voted for the man who declared, “America First!”

  • RobertColgan

    Just as intriguing is the published narrative that Russian strategists favored Trump AND Bernie Sanders.
    Hard to figure that one…..obviously they gave up on Sanders when Clinton almost physically threw Bernie under the bus for her political ambition———but why would they have wanted Sanders? ….when they also knew from polling that Sanders stood a better chance of besting Trump than Clinton because of the misogyny in this country…..a misogyny they also understand very well in Russia.
    Most strange.

    • Andy Schmookler

      My guess is that the Russians, like most observers, figured that Hillary Clinton was quite likely to be the next president. And their desire was to do all they could to prevent her from being an effective president. Both the Trump and the Sanders candidacies would have looked good to them for that purpose.

      I doubt they thought they had a great chance to get Trump elected, but even if Trump fell short, he could help to wound her. Having 1/3 of Americans thinking that “Lock Her Up!” was an appropriate sentiment is not a congenial situation in which Hillary might have taken office.

      As for Sanders, that did indeed turn out to be wounding to Hillary. However much you want to fault Hillary, there’s plenty of other blame to go around. I voted for Sanders in the primary, but I ended up very disappointed in him: as I wrote here in May of 2016, by the first week of that month it was quite clear that Hillary was going to be the nominee, and it was time for Bernie to rally his supporters to her cause, or at least to motivate them to do all they could to make sure that Trump was not the next President.

      But that’s not what he did, and I believe that what Sanders did — and said to his supporters — during the period between that beginning of May and the Democratic Convention did a great deal to weaken Hillary. Enough, I feel pretty certain, to have effected the outcome.

      How much the Russians contributed to this, I don’t know. But my guess is that if one looked at what the Russian bots were up to, they did all they could to make Bernie supporters hate Hillary. So that by the time Bernie got around to saying how important it was for Trump to be defeated, a lot of those who were hot for Bernie had their minds too poisoned against Hillary to follow him in that.

      • RobertColgan

        “In a Feb. 10, 2016, planning memo, the Russians were instructed to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).” ” (Bloomberg Politics)

        Again, what I was questioning was WHY they would have supported Sanders over Clinton——–even though the polling data throughout the campaign had Sanders besting any R candidate including Trump and Clinton beating others but coming in possibly second to Trump….although she led in the polls by 3 pct points until that Friday before election Tuesday Comey debacle that flipped the lead by 2 to Trump.

        I disagree with you that Sanders was either slow to endorse or failed to fully endorse her and that that cost her votes. I believe it had much more to do with her platform not being nearly as progressive as Sanders’ and the voters who favored Sanders found her lacking…(and far too militaristic, as Chomsky pointedly alleged). Also, Sanders’ supporters were pissed he threw his support to her——-they wanted him to run indie against her and Trump….a tactic Sanders said he feared might lead to a Trump victory, why he threw support to her.

        In conversations with friends before the election, Clinton with her heavy locked-in electoral vote was seen as undermining and stealing the election from Sanders——and those friends said they would not vote for her because of that. They were right. As Donna Brazile confessed, the fix was on, and Clinton was behind it.

        But what the Russians saw as favorable for them about Sanders in the presidency?
        Maybe he was perceived as weak on foreign defense, and Clinton a Margaret Thatcher with a bigger navy and army eager to prove herself in a man’s world which might upset some of their future plans…. ?
        I don’t know.
        I voted for Stein —– a woman I greatly admire and someone I think would make a fine president. I didn’t think that about Clinton.

        • Andy Schmookler

          I think the answer is that they didn’t imagine that Sanders was going to be president. Did the futures markets ever give him anything like a strong possibility of becoming President? I don’t think so.

          And here’s a place where you and I, Robert, apparently disagree. You write: ” those friends said they would not vote for her because of that. They were right.”

          I do not understand how you can say, “They were right,” after seeing the Donald Trump presidency for the past year. Whatever Hillary’s shortcomings, or even wrongdoings — and I’m not interested in litigating any of that — surely they pale compared to Trump’s, and the damage he is doing to the nation, and the planet.

          • RobertColgan

            Right, Andy, not an easy argument to defend.
            But what I said was in context applying to their sense she had acted underhandedly in seizing the hefty lead in Dem nomination process ——–before it was actually disclosed by Brazile and others.

            The damage Trump & Co are doing FAR exceeds even the most pessimistic prognostications……..most saw him as someone who would try to get things passed— but would face enough opposition to render him ineffectual.
            His placement of Goldman Sachs people like Mnuchin into power positions? GovCorps consolidated.
            Putting an extreme anti-science corporatist like Pruitt in charge of the environment? GovCorps.
            The list is long.

            The ONLY good to come out of all of this, potentially, is the backlash awakening of so many politically-silent voters ——–which might in coming elections begin to introduce some sanity where presently there is none.