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One question the impeachment inquiry probably isn’t going to answer: What is it with Trump and Russia, anyway?

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listening during a bilateral meeting with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on September 25.

As impeachment hearings start to create the public record of the Trump administration’s dealing with Ukraine, it’s important to keep in mind that in some fundamental ways, this is less about Ukraine than it is about Russia — and we’re not much closer to understanding Trump’s relationship with Moscow than we were before he became president. 

Sure, in a narrower legal sense, the question is precisely whether Trump withheld military aid and a possible White House meeting to get a public announcement by Ukraine of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. Did his halfwit band of fellow travelers (this means you, Rudy) persuade Trump that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered with the 2016 election and persuade him to demand that, too, be investigated?

Trump can – probably will – be impeached based on the answers to those questions. But justified as it might be, that would do little to win over those who argue that the punishment is greater than the crime. It would also seem too small compared to all of Trump’s transgressions, and probably leave a longstanding and potentially more pernicious problem untouched: What is it with Trump and Russia, anyhow?

Ukraine is not Russia. But geography is fate. As long as Ukraine’s bigger neighbor defines itself in opposition to the West and western values, Ukraine will be torn between the two. And size matters. We probably wouldn’t be talking much about this if it had happened in Kyrgyzstan. Ukraine, however, is big enough to be important to both sides. For Vladimir Putin it is perhaps the essential link in a sphere of influence insulating Russia from the West. Parts of Ukraine look to the west; parts to the east. Borderlands like this are frequently unstable. 


There was a lot of money to be made in the breakup of the Soviet Union, and a lot of uncertainty about Ukraine’s place in the world. That created fertile ground for people like Paul Manafort and Hunter Biden. Ukrainians were willing to pay Manafort handsomely for his influence in the United States and his advice – to a political party amenable to Russian interests — on how to get and keep political power. And while there is no shred of illegality about it, there is no other plausible way to look at the hiring of Hunter Biden by a Ukrainian natural gas company than as an attempt to build connections to U.S. political power structure. 

Then, of course, that $391 million in U.S. military aid that Trump held up was intended to counter Russia’s campaign in Ukraine. Trump also wants to believe that it wasn’t Russia that meddled in the election, despite the conclusions of his own government, congressional investigators and the Mueller probe. In that infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he alluded to a stew of conspiracy theories about Ukrainian involvement. Cyber investigators have traced the first ingredient to a man in England posting under an alias to push a pro-Russian agenda. 

This big pot of nonsense was served up to Trump by Manafort and the president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn (both with unsavory connections to Moscow and both convicted criminals now). Rudy Giuliani was right there, too, spoon in hand. 

Russia didn’t create this scandal in all of its sordid detail. Even its best agents of disinformation couldn’t have imagined it into being. Foreign policy experts can, and should, argue about whether and how much Western policy pushed Russia into a corner – and what U.S. policy toward Ukraine should be. But none of it would have happened if Russia weren’t the aggrieved nationalistic force it has become; nor would it have happened if anyone other than Trump were president.

That brings us right back to the subject of inconclusive investigations and endless speculation. What is Trump’s relationship with Russia? 

It would take too much space to list all the weird events that make you wonder whether Trump is in Putin’s pocket, an egotistical bumbler – or both. But here, courtesy of Elaine Kamarck at the Brookings Institution, is a good reminder.

One of Trump’s clear successes has been keeping anyone from figuring this out. Robert Mueller found plenty of smoke and insufficient fire. The Trump associates who have been charged and convicted mostly have gone down for financial crimes, or for protecting the boss. With the conviction of Roger Stone on Friday, the count is now six. 

One thread for most of them is lying — to either Congress or the FBI. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Prosecutors argued that the truth of his dealings with Wikileaks would have looked bad for Trump. But as David Graham wrote for the Atlantic, “if his goal to was to protect Trump – and obscure the truth – his obstruction worked.”

Trump has ordered aides not to testify in the impeachment hearings. He’s going to the Supreme Court to avoid turning over his tax records. One thing about Trump: You can be pretty sure this is not about principle. The question, as it has been for his entire presidency, is what exactly is he hiding? Does it have anything to do with Russia? If so, what?

Comments (35)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/18/2019 - 09:41 am.

    A comprehensive history and background of Trump and Russia…

    https://themoscowproject.org/collusion-chapter/chapter-1/

    Where there is smoke…a lot of smoke…the GOP says “Fake News !”

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/18/2019 - 09:54 am.

    The strictly amateur’s opinion – unsupported by research of any kind beyond reading various news articles – is that the answer is twofold.

    First, Trump, as exhibited on “reality” TV as well as in real life, has an affinity for authoritarians. He behaves as if he were an elected monarch – something of a contradiction in terms – plagued by the extremely bothersome restrictions of a pluralistic society with a sort-of-democratic government. Putin doesn’t have to deal with those restrictions, and while there are certainly elections in Russia, they are generally lacking, shall we say, in the political drama (or theater, depending upon your level of cynicism) routinely dished up in American national elections.

    The people Trump seems to like are A) willing to flatter an emperor without clothes; and B) those with authoritarian impulses and instincts similar to his own. Putin fits this profile to a “T.” For what little it’s worth, I think Trump would love to be in Putin’s shoes.

    Second, and this stems from his apparent paranoia about his tax records becoming public, I suspect he owes Russian plutocrats, and perhaps even the Russian government, a lot of money. Whether he’s a wealthy as he’d like us to believe or not is an interesting side issue, but a side issue, nonetheless. My hunch is that he’s “in the pocket,” to some significant degree, of Russian sources of wealth, whether private or governmental. Within the boundaries that his office (and PR considerations generally) impose on him, he’s going to defer to the sources of whatever his actual wealthy may turn out to be.

    Having boasted for years about his nonexistent business acumen and an accumulated fortune for which there’s no real proof in recent years, he’s loath to see any hint of fiscal slight of hand publicly displayed. And, it should be noted, one of the characteristics of the sort of inferiority complex typically displayed by authoritarian personalities is that they don’t like being challenged in some way that cannot be quickly slapped down and ignored. Should much of Trump’s wealth turn out to be, essentially, loans from Russia, or significantly less than he’s led the public to believe, or even, as seems possible, if his wealth turns out to be illusory, built on a fiscal house of cards, his whole public persona will be destroyed.

    Americans tend to defer to people of great wealth, for whatever reason. My history students years ago admitted as much – that they’d pay much closer attention to economic arguments presented by a wealthy person (I used millionaire years ago, now it would likely be billionaire) than by an ordinary businessman or scholar of modest means, and Trump has been able to leverage that deference – deserved or not – in his favor. Russia is, after all, a poorer country and economy than that of the U.S., so Trump’s affinity for Russia may get him even greater credibility there than it does here.

    • Submitted by Vonnie Phillips on 11/18/2019 - 11:33 am.

      You’re dead on. Unfortunately, the American electorate, too much of it, lack critical thinkers, coupled with the fact the electorate is grossly uninformed.

  3. Submitted by Leon Webster on 11/18/2019 - 10:36 am.

    So the question Trump supporters should be asking themselves: Did we vote for a Russian Agent, or for someone whom Putin finds to be a useful idiot.

  4. Submitted by Dan Emerson on 11/18/2019 - 10:39 am.

    check out this documentary film:

    https://www.activemeasures.com/

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 11/18/2019 - 11:28 am.

    The question of Trump and Russia was answered by Mueller, nothing there, move along. I’m actually glad someone wrote about Russia again, was wondering what happened to that narrative after 2 1/2 years of steady coverage. Russia has become Ukraine which will become something else in a week or two of this impeachment inquiry.

    • Submitted by Mike Chrun on 11/18/2019 - 12:03 pm.

      Um … no, it wasn’t answered. With Barr running interference and with Mueller being cautious, it didn’t totally clear Trump, despite what the right wing propaganda machine keeps churning out.

      As the article states, six of Trump’s associates have been found guilty of crimes that resulted from Mueller’s investigations. As a charter member of the “What About Hillary and/or Obama Crowd” you know the reaction would be if six of their associates had been found guilty of the same crimes.

      I suspect Mr. Schooch, as he often does, has the best analysis. Trump is an extremely pathetic and dishonest person. Putin has control of a country in a way that Trump envies. Remembering Don Jr.’s statements about getting loans from Russians, refusing to release his tax returns, not providing a record of his talks with Putin makes it reasonable to believe that Putin also has control of your great leader.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/19/2019 - 09:12 am.

        It was answered. Fox says so. Trump says so. Let’s move on to Joe Biden.

        What are you trying to do, think for yourself?

    • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 11/19/2019 - 07:30 am.

      Ah, you have read the unredacted Mueller Report. When you are done with your copy, could you ship it to me? Please.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/19/2019 - 10:18 pm.

      So this Mueller saying “nothing there”?

      Mueller’s final statement:

      Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election. As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.

      The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber-techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.”

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/20/2019 - 11:01 am.

      Actually no, that wasn’t the Mueller conclusion. Meuller actually found a barrel full of criminal activity that has yielded multiple convictions. He also found multiple examples of obstruction. And he certainly verified beyond question the fact of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

      You have to be rather obtuse to look at all of this and decide there’s nothing to see.

  6. Submitted by Vonnie Phillips on 11/18/2019 - 11:31 am.

    What is it with Trump and Russia? Well, it’s obvious. American holding companies or institutional banks stop lending Trump money 20 years ago. Russia has been Trump’s banker for years, coupled with his business holdings, not just in Russia, but Turkey and India as well. Trump’s tax returns, if and when released, will tell you what Trump owes and who he owes it to.

  7. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 11/18/2019 - 11:31 am.

    A question for the ages. Is it his attraction to Despots? Vladimir Putin, Kim Jung Um, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Erdoğan are all people Donald looks up to. Does Vlad have some dirt on Donny? Or is it just that Donald is jealous of Vlad’s wealth and power and wants that for himself? We will never know, but what we do know is that all the controversial decisions Donald makes all seem to benefit Russia. A part of this fiasco in Ukraine was Donald trying to prove Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections,rather it was the Ukrainians who did it and tried to frame the Russians. To believe this Donald has to disregarding his own intelligence agencies, who are the best and most well funded in the world, and believe shady Russian sympathizers. Its a shame and as disgrace, but here we are….

  8. Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/18/2019 - 12:21 pm.

    Because the Russians own Trump. Because the Russians were the only ones who would loan money to his failing businesses.

  9. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 11/18/2019 - 12:48 pm.

    In the mid 1990’s Trump’s businesses were all going belly up. American banks stopped loaning his entities a dime. I think he started laundering money for the Russian mob and others
    Remember the story about an Egyptian that bought a mansion in CA for 10Million and then gave it to a Trump shell company for nothing? That is money laundering 101.

  10. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 11/18/2019 - 01:25 pm.

    Occam’s razor. Trump, by virtue of his gaping absence of self-esteem, cares about only one thing in the world: that he is seen as a winner, which to him is synonymous with having dominating wealth. If he stood exposed before the world as the feckless bankrupt that he is, his ego would collapse in cataclysmic anguish. By virtue of his business ineptitude, he long ago lost access to ordinary financing and turned to laundering the cash of the Russian kleptocracy to prop up the surface appearance of a universe of grand assets. Putin sits at the head of the Russian kleptocracy, knows all there is to know about Trump’s debts, and with one word can cause to be revealed to all the world the abject fraud that Trump is. Trump goes to sleep every night thinking of what he might do the next day so that Putin will not have a reason to give this word.

  11. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/18/2019 - 03:01 pm.

    I suspect the Barr Report and the Senatorial Trial will tell a lurid tale about how the Clinton Campaign, the FBI etc Intelligence Community, Fusion GPS, Crowdstrike, and Corporate Media effectively conspired to blow this Russia thing totally out of proportion, as a kind of covert neoliberal attempt at regime change.

    That should be entertaining. A good reminder that with the hyperpartisanship of the day headed toward civil war, facts don’t matter when it comes to supporting your favored side. Nevermind both sides seem to me and many like me, corrupt and hypocritical beyond redemption.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 11/18/2019 - 04:40 pm.

      At this stage of the game anyone saying “both sides” either isn’t paying attention or isn’t honest. There is not and never has been anyone on the the Democratic side that comes even close to Donald Trump and his enablers in the Senate and House. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/19/2019 - 09:28 am.

        My point exactly. Giving such a free pass to Dem elite and Dem policy the last generation, is one of the things that empowers Trump. His pathology is reflected back by Dem pathology. Many of us are standing on the outside of it marveling in awe.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/19/2019 - 09:12 am.

      Everyone knows that the best way to fight the hyperpartisanship in American life is to bring up Bill and Hillary Clinton anytime someone says something negative about Trump.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/19/2019 - 09:35 am.

        Yes, I am happy to tear down the facade of Trump and the Clintons depending on the audience. This one seems to give the latter a free pass, despite abundant evidence that Bill and Hillary drug the Dems far to the right, into Neo-liberal territory, leading to the election fo Trump. All three are a symptom of a political and economic system where anything goes and nothing matters.

  12. Submitted by Barry Peterson on 11/18/2019 - 04:43 pm.

    Russia’s oil and mineral wealth is great. The oil in Russia is more ubiquitous than in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, or the U.S. Donald Trump has shown his interest in the oil industry by bringing Rex Tillerson to his Cabinet, the former ExxonMobile CEO who Trump had never met before he invited Tillerson aboard. Mr. Trump has opened U.S. national parks to oil drilling and mining. Early on, Mr. Trump had nice words to say about Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump once said that after his first or second billion, he stopped keeping track and that it was “…just a game…” to him. Mr. Trump understands that opening lands to oil drilling (power from fossil fuels are still necessary at this stage of the development of sustainable energy sources) will allow for start-up drillers to enter the scene and offer opportunities for investors to get in and get out of their investments as their stock values rise and allow for much profit to those who, like Mr. Trump, might invest.

    I don’t see a problem in investing in Russia; but it is somewhat clear to me that Mr. Trump has associated with people who have criminal minds. That Trump bankrupted his company five time (which would make it impossible for him to attain a securities license), shows that he cares only about a select few, and that the ends justify the means, where it comes to propping up companies of which he has an interest.

    Many people have opined that Mr. Trump is in deep debt, and possibly a target of extortion, to Russian oligarchs. Having access to his tax history would provide information on some of this.

    For a man who likes to brag about his wealth, as many millionaires and billionaires do not brag about their wealth but look at it with a degree of gravitas not often seen in Mr. Trump’s character, it is surprising to me that he would not be open to letting his tax history be reviewed by Congress (both Republicans and Democrats, and that other man from Vermont) and to prosecutors. If he has nothing to hide, it seems he would be more than happy to do what U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter have done: show his tax history.

    Of the Media’s reporting on the impeachment, I think it is short-sighted and naive for reporters and publishers to focus on the impeachment proceeding as being a “Democratic” push; before those people are Democrats, they are U.S. citizens which, hopefully, are objective and critical thinkers interested in studying history to determine whether or not our U.S. president is indeed deserving of impeachment and fall from grace and power. This is not a game of Democrats against Republicans; this is a conscientious concern about whether the man who has alienated many of our allies and their elected leaders…who has offended and irritated them and many others around the world with blunt attacks and a somewhat noble attempt to get the balance of trade in our favor…is guilty of corruption as defined in the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Of many Republican’s in Congress and their decision to defend the U.S. president, not knowing, yet, the truth of what may unfold, I find it somewhat disingenuous and counter to their role of being members of the branch that should operate with checks and balance over the other branch — the administrative branch. It may be that those who are involved in this operation are also involved with many of the people from Russia that the president is not doubt involved with and may owe sums of money, or fear extortion, themselves.

    While I enjoy William Duncan Hunter’s frequent comments, he appears, above, to fear that a man, who became known to most of us for looking good in a suit and thrusting his arm and hand forward, with his hand tightly held like that of a football referee making a call, and the word’s, firmly stated, “You’re Fired,” that that man, a hero to many for his dramatic air of authority and sophistication, may be brought down, as only four men in the history of the U.S. presidency, have been brought to the precipice, if not to the fall, of impeachment or resignation.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/19/2019 - 09:50 am.

      Barry,

      I’m glad you enjoy my comments.

      And yes, I do fear the Dem attempt to bring down this president, for the disingenuousness of it – Ukraine? Really? If you want to put him on trial and make him look bad, go after his emoluments – for getting in bed with the totally unaccountable Intelligence Community, the eternal war machine and corporate mockingbird media.

      Dems have used Russia and now Ukraine to try to take down this president, and otherwise have shouted down anyone who suggests it was the economics of the last 40 years that lead to the rise of Trump, for which Dem elite were largely responsible, as if those making that argument are Russian stooges or devotees of Trump.

      • Submitted by Barry Peterson on 11/19/2019 - 05:46 pm.

        William,

        Thank you for your reply. You appear to be a thoughtful Republican and not just a zombie to the Trump worshippers. You appear to have an open mind about an opportunity for impeachment, if good arguments can be made for impeachment — while remaining assertive as a Republican in principle.

        I greatly appreciate and respect this kind of gravitas with regard to being involved in political thought and devotion. I tend to me a centrist — a moderate — as a Democrat, although I am not entirely fond of some of what the DFL have done to some of their longstanding members who have been critical of practices by certain folks in the Party.

        One of my dear and old friends from Macalester College is a Republican from the southern U.S. who tends, also, to be a moderate –but has grown to dislike Mr. Trump’s media style.

        With regard to these trade wars, I’m on the fence, as I see that he is proceeding from a principled stand; but I fear that going so hard not to the right or to the left, but toward nationalism, which is a neutral stand that any Party can take, may lead us into a recession, given debates existing on both sides of this argument.

        My concern are for folks — both Democrats and Republicans — who do not use shrewd critical thinking skills. While many people, perhaps most in the country, would do well to have a Bernie Sanders of Elizabeth Warren in office, Barack Obama was clear to say that going to far to the “left” as with Sanders, will alienate folks like myself and moderate Republicans who just don’t want another four years of ad hominem attacks and juvenile behavior such as Trump’s occasional forays on Twitter. Then, again, there are those who vote Republican who are both sycophants of the President, and those who idolize him because of his wealth and his ability to look pretty darned good in a suit. These are not good reasons to vote for a man or woman, regardless of which party one might care to support.

        I look forward to seeing more of your posts. Whether we entirely agree or disagree with one another is not really the point: what is most important is how we argue our opinions and if we provide a strong and intelligent basis for our arguments.

        If I don’t message to you again in the near future, please enjoy your holiday season; and keep up the good work of keeping Democrats, and others, on their toes by your keen style of commentary.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/20/2019 - 08:33 am.

          Thank you Barry,

          I will say I am conservative, insofar as I want to conserve wilderness and ecological diversity, and local economic empowerment. That seems entirely contrary however to modern Republicanism. I used to vote Dem just because Republican ideology had embraced monopoly and imperialism, and more-or-less plundering the earth. Watching the divergence however, from Obama neoliberal economic and neoconservative foreign policy and Dem/Liberal perception/lionization of him, and the embrace of all things CIA/FBI/NSA, Russophobic imperialism and monopolistic globalism since Trump however, I find myself as alienated from the Dems as I do Repubs.

          Happy holidays to you too.

          • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/20/2019 - 02:29 pm.

            William, since you can see little difference between D and R policy, here are 85 specific incidences where Trump has rolled back environmental protections, largely put forward by previous D legislation:

            https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html

            Here’s a top ten just for air pollution below. You may believe some “big bang” change will steer the world to your point of view; but, the truth is incremental victories are the only real means forward and the Ds, despite your distaste for:

            “Obama neoliberal economic and neoconservative foreign policy and Dem/Liberal perception/lionization of him, and the embrace of all things CIA/FBI/NSA, Russophobic imperialism and monopolistic globalism”

            are the only ones even proposing incremental victories towards your goals. Again, here are a few things Trump supporters own:

            1. Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions.

            2. Revised and partially repealed an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions on public lands, including intentional venting and flaring from drilling operations.

            3. Loosened a Clinton-era rule designed to limit toxic emissions from major industrial polluters.

            4. Stopped enforcing a 2015 rule that prohibited the use of hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases, in air-conditioners and refrigerators.

            5. Repealed a requirement that state and regional authorities track tailpipe emissions from vehicles traveling on federal highways.

            6. Reverted to a weaker 2009 pollution permitting program for new power plants and expansions.

            7. Amended rules that govern how refineries monitor pollution in surrounding communities.

            8. Directed agencies to stop using an Obama-era calculation of the “social cost of carbon” that rulemakers used to estimate the long-term economic benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

            9. Withdrew guidance that federal agencies include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. But several district courts have ruled that emissions must be included in such reviews.

            10. Lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. (Burning gasoline with a higher concentration of ethanol in hot conditions increases smog.)

            • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/21/2019 - 09:40 am.

              I am well aware of Trump’s indifference to all things ecological. I have often called his election a last ditch attempt to plunder the earth before this party we call modernism is over.

              As for Dems being better stewards, I would argue there is very little difference between parties from an ecological perspective. Pollinators are going extinct, a process that was effectively unaffected bynthe Obama admin. Here in Mn, water quality and pollution generally has not changed for the better depending on who controls government. When it comes to polluting ag land or the Arrowhead with sulfide mining, mn dem leadership is mostly ok with that.

              For 40 years now, the economic system has become ever more challenging for most Americans, the ecological situation has become ever more dire – no matter who is in charge. The same goes for the totally unaccountable war/security/surveillance macine.

              • Submitted by Barry Peterson on 11/28/2019 - 01:11 pm.

                William,

                The problem with the pollinators dying off is primarily because Bayer-Monsanto, now Bayer, is selling Round-Up and killing off butterflies, bees, and other small insects, as well as birds who eat them and who may also munch on the corn. The problem wasn’t the Administration, but the courts.

                Your comment with “Dem leadership” and sullfide mniing is not entirely accurate, either, as the courts are who will rule whether or not sulfide mining will come in. Currently, the appeals court has p0ut a stay on the Glencore/Polymet’s ability to make dams, blast holes, and do other things. The courts do not have to worry about appealing to or appeasing people, they have to worry about, I believe (and may be mistaken) to the president cutting them loose and replacing them with a court that they (the presidency) consider more in tune with their policy.

                It was Richard Nixon who brought in the Environmental Protection Agency (he also, with the great aid of Henry Kissinger, brought peace between the U.S. and China); Trump is undoing some of Nixon’s fine accomplishments. Republicans of this generation are not of the the same ilk today as they were when I was a little kid with regard to environmental protection, in fact turning over, entirely, the accomplishments of the Nixon era work to protect citizen and denizen’s health from the ill affects of toxic pollutants in the air and in what we eat.

                Nixon resigned when it was clear that the Republicans of his ilk were going to be true to the Constitution, not defend actions of his that were clearly illegal and counter to the well-being of the Republican Party of his period. He did not want to suffer the most damaging results of a full impeachment.

                Today, Republicans in Congress are ignoring their role as a check and balance on the Executive Branch, and defneding him before they hear what is the truth of the matter. I just learned that one of Trump’s Deutsche Bank loan officers who signed off on many of Mr. Trump’s loans committed suicide on November 19; this may or may not have anything to do with the President, but it is odd how so many of the president’s close colleagues are ending up in prison and, now, one has committed suicide in Malibu.

                Please stop hero worshiping the man, William. Step back and try to become objective long enough to hear the truth of what so many neutral parties and, now, Giuliani’s ‘friend’ Lev Parnas are saying about the man. Close allies of his are ending up in federal penitentiaries for deeds associated with Trump.

                Be an objective American. You don’t need to believe anything until you read about it or see it on television long enough to make an intelligent and honest judgment.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/19/2019 - 10:53 pm.

        “Dems have used Russia and now Ukraine to try to take down this president”

        We can get this over fairly quickly with two acknowledgements that are not a stretch:

        1. Trump asked for a “favor” from Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
        2. While waiting for this “favor” to be granted, Trump withheld hundreds of millions of US tax dollars approved by congress to aid Ukraine.

        With that behind us we seemingly have 3 decisions to consider:

        1. This is no big deal and pursuing personal political goals with US resources is OK now and in the future.

        2. This is very unusual and deserves careful investigation and consideration for the consequences of removal from office.

        3. This constitutes a “high crime and misdemeanor and should remove the President from office.

        William and the Trumpians are going with Decision 1 with the likely caveat that this applies only to Republicans.

        We are in #2

        We’ll see about #3.

        There is nothing outrageous about where we are right now. Trump went through 3 years of misery with the Russian investigation. We can continue to debate whether he colluded / conspired with the Russian Government. There is no debate that he attempted to collude / conspire with the Ukraine Government.

        Trump is the kid in the school yard with his tongue stuck to the frozen fence post during recess. After excruciating misery his tongue and the post are separated. The next day? Same Tongue. New Frozen Post…

    • Submitted by Barry Peterson on 11/28/2019 - 07:40 am.

      Note, written on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, at about 7:25 a.m.:

      In italics and bold, the first paragraph should read: I read, on Monday, November 25, 2019, since my last post here, a 2014 report found on line that indicated that Venezuela has more billions of barrels underground that any of the countries I mentioned. The relevant citation, with many relevant citations:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves_in_Venezuela

      My earlier statement was technically incorrect, as Venezuela’s Socialist Party controls that nation; Socialists do a miserable job at business, with a lot of inefficiency and poor financing of what needs to get done. The problem is: the Venezuelans borrow from China and do not yet have the business and management intelligence found in Western nations like the U.S. to expediently and efficiently suck the oil of the ground, as non-Socialist Russia has been doing since the fall of the USSR.
      See “Foreign Affairs,” the magazine, published by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.

      For more on Venezuela, poverty, and inefficiency, and China’s influence over that South American nation; and see excerpts from Foreign Affairs:

      https://www.foreignaffairs.com/regions/venezuela;

      and:

      https://www.businessinsider.com/how-putin-spends-his-mysterious-fortune-2017-6#according-to-the-russian-government-owned-paper-russia-beyond-the-headlines-putin-owns-an-a-lange-and-soehne-tourbograph-perpetual-pour-le-mrite-which-costs-half-a-million-dollars-16,

      for more on Vladimir Putin, his wealth, and his interest business.

      I will note that I just got off the phone with a friend in Nairobi, an East African-American man with insight into U.S. politics (he is a U.S. citizen), now serving in East Africa as an outreach manager for a civic organization working with the United Nations, business families, and others.

      He indicated, as I noted in my earliest comment, above, that I was correct in stating that some of these so-called Muslim terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, are not truly Muslim, but hiding under the banner of Islam to get caring and daring Muslims who want to serve God/Allah.

      Hence, these organizations, like many, are using the art of the con to soak up those who consider themselves as either devout Muslims, and those who are little more than mercenaries, to control business interests in various parts of the world.

      These organizations are, like U.S. and other Western interests, interested in businesses which command resources. They are not organizations which use the nation state as a backdrop, as Western interests do; only they use the organization state as a backdrop.

      I will note that I find nothing wrong with anyone wanting to do business any where in the world; however, I prefer diplomatic and friendship means to gain control…supporting an otherwise ethical government and ethical warfare (in defense of democracy).

      I note that military is an acceptable tool to protect interests and to assist regions where there are resources, in addition to friendship and peaceful statecraft. My desire is for highly ethical governance and military activity, as former U.S. Secretary of the Navy desires, suggesting that the U.S. military abide by moral laws and codes; however, I do not agree with all of what may have be represented by him.as we have a widely different view of racial equality, as contrasted by my views and his views as noted in:

      https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0

      See the following for a cleaner image of the former Secretary:

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/11/25/richard-spencers-last-letter-navy-chief-after-seal-gallagher-case/4295123002/

      (Muslims, like Christians and Jews, celebrate religion in an Abrahamic faith — that is, descended from Abraham who was in the lineage of Jesus Christ, before Christ, calling God “Allah” and noting that God and Allah are in the same way the same person as God, excluding the notion of the Trinity. Muslims consider Jesus to be the most important prophet after the prophet Muhammad. I do not get on Muslims’ cases about the Trinity or Jesus being the son of God and God at the same time, as I care to do what Jesus did and that is to love, accept, and as some Christians must learn to do, as Jesus did, to forgive. I have known many Muslims from many different backgrounds from around Minnesota and the world. I do not cast stones at Muslims. I chat with them as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. As the early U.S. president and drafter of the U.S. Declaration of Independence noted in one of his letters to a peer and friend, Thomas Jefferson, noted in words which I am paraphrasing, to, I believe, Samuel Adams — for whom Jefferson served as vice president when Adams was president: It does not bother me how other people peacefully worship, as long as their practices are peaceful; as well, I vaguely remember a verse in Proverbs, of the Holy Bible, that instructed missionaries to “stomp their feet to rid themselves of dust, and to move on if the people in a certain region do not care for the message of God, as illuminated through the Holy Bible. Jefferson’s library contains a Qua-ran; and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, now Minnesota’s attorney general, an avowed Muslim, swore his oath of office on Jefferson’s Qua-ran. This in mind, I do not care if Mr. Trump has business interests in Russia, as long as his actions are ethical and loving, as a ‘Good Christian” would be, stomping their feet and moving on if the locals do not care for his religion (the love of money and power) or business practices (not yet determined because we have noit seen his tax records to know who he may possibly be involved with in Russia the Ukraine, or elsewhere). The verse in Proverbs, if I properly remember it, is a sliver of faith which dictates that Christianity must be a religion based on democratic principles, as it was shared with indigenous people of what is called ‘North America’ by most of the world, on the first Thanksgiving Day at a feast whereby Europeans and indigenous tribal members celebrated the cooperative environment that brought them together for the survival of among the first European colonialists to what they called “The New World”; but which had been settled by those who assisted them for 10 thousand years,. See: https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/chinese-beat-columbus.htm)

      To come full circle, about Trump, Russia, oil, and his view on military activities related to being either ethical or chaotic, it appears that Mr. Trump has an anything goes attitude in his desire to create the art of a deal in his execution of statecraft while serving as president and the curious possibility that he or his family will financially gain through his chaotic policy making over military activities and political demands.

  13. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 11/19/2019 - 10:31 pm.

    A little more attention should be paid to how Trump came to see Ukraine as a “bad place” early into his term.

    I’ll bet he could not find Ukraine on a map or describe anything about it beyond ornate, bejeweled eggs prior to his election.

    Within in months he has a very established opinion. Where did he find it?

    Who had the most to gain by getting Trump to be all negative on Ukraine?

    The same guy who told Trump Russia had no role in 2016 election interference: Vladimir Putin.

    Trump takes Putin’s advice over our entire intelligence infrastructure on Russian election interference and follows that up with Putin’s guidance that Ukraine is a problem to be avoided.

    He is in Putin’s pocket and only the GOP can save us from Russia guiding executive branch decisions to their benefit.

    Lt. Col. Vindman is not the enemy, Putin is…

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/20/2019 - 11:16 am.

    I think we already know what the deal is with Trump and Russians. In a nutshell Russian criminals ended up financing Trump’s endeavors when US banks cut him off. (Russians and Deutsche Bank). When talk of Russian Criminals we know we’re also talking about Putin because one does not function without the other in Russia. This essentially means two things: 1) Putin and other Russian criminals have leverage over Trump. 2) At the very least Trump has is seriously motivated to normalize relations with Putin, and minimize or obscure the criminal nature of the Russians he’s been working with.

    We can’t prove all of this right now, but would bet that once he’s out of the White House and of little or no more use to the Russians, and no longer protected by the Office, this will all come out.

    It’s also important to realize that any good intelligence officer will tell you that the best “asset” is the one that doesn’t know they’re an asset. Trump may just be a big enough buffoon to not realize the full extent to which he’s actually serving Putin and Putin’s interests. Trump doesn’t have to know he’s a Russian asset in order to BE a Russian asset. Same with McConnel, Giuliani. Given their ego’s and status and dull intellects it’s quite possible they’re being played like a violin while imagination themselves as the virtuoso’s.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 11/21/2019 - 10:24 am.

      “Given their ego’s and status and dull intellects it’s quite possible they’re being played like a violin while imagination themselves as the virtuoso’s.”

      I would argue just as strongly, whether we are talking Russia, Ukraine or Syria, the left in this country, in their great, reactionary antipathy toward Trump, are getting played by the CIA and their media Mockingbirds to support unquestioning the ongoing neoliberal/neoconservative Pax Americana.

  15. Submitted by Barry Peterson on 11/28/2019 - 08:13 am.

    Writing on Thanksgiving Morning 2019.

    Mr. Trump reportedly has financial interests in Russia. They may be in the form of real and natural resources; they may be in the form of friendships and other forms of association with both ethical and unethical individuals and groups fro Russia and Ukraine.

    Getting to his tax records would be a plus in determining whether or not Trump is a) associated with those interested in in bringing about the collapse of the political system defined in the Constitution of the United States of America, and b) working in concert with those people’s interest in gaining further access to oil and other natural and real assets in the United States.

    Mr. Trump’s interest in natural resources and real estate in Russia and the Ukraine may be seen as complementary to his reasons for opening public lands, including national parks and natural reserves to oil, gas, and mineral exploitation.

    While this doesn’t sit well with many, including most Democrats Republicans, and those who stood with President Richard Nixon who brought us the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a lasting peace with China (through his Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger…an immigrant to the United States because his family was not of the right religious background per teachings and laws in Nazi Germany…), it is fine with this generation of conservatives and those from foreign nations who desire to invest for a healthy profit.

    In close, Happy Thanksgiving to those who remember the intent and reason for the first celebration of Thanksgiving, a gathering of immigrants and indigenous people in the area now commonly referred to as New England.

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