fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Chris Honoré: All roads lead to Russia

Part Two

From the moment Donald Trump announced his campaign I shook my head in disbelief. His statements in interviews and from the campaign podium were jaw-dropping to reprehensible: John McCain wasn’t a war hero; Muslims cheered when the Trade Center towers collapsed; Mexicans are criminals; women should be punished if they have an abortion; South Korea and Japan should go nuclear; NATO was anachronistic; and he ridiculed a Gold Star family that had lost a beloved son. There was, of course, his statement that he could commit sexual assault with impunity because he was famous.

The list goes on. And with each revelation, each tweet and disgraceful comment I found myself saying: “This will be the outrageous assertion that will disqualify him. Win his party’s primary? Not a chance.” He did.

During the presidential campaign I relied on what was touted as “the wisdom of the American people.” I acknowledge that I nurtured the hope of a landslide, meaning an emphatic rejection of the racist, misogynistic rants of a man who appealed to the worst in us.

And there was, of course, the dark Russian thread that initially seemed so puzzling. At one point Trump declared that Vladimir Putin was a better leader than Obama.

When the Russians were found to have hacked the Democratic National Committee while using trolls to manipulate our presidential election, Trump took umbrage with that verified conclusion, insisting with conviction that it could have been a 400-pound guy sitting on his bed. Putin, it seemed, was his new BFF.

I was still convinced, however, that though Hillary was not perfect, she was nevertheless immensely qualified. Of course, after decades in public life she possessed baggage, most of it unpacked by relentless public scrutiny. And there was, of course, the private email server. But compared to Trump, it seemed no contest.

And then the election returns came in. Hillary lost Florida and then the crucial Electoral College states fell like dominoes in Trump’s favor. That evening proved seismic. Some 63 million people had voted for Trump (no matter that 66 million voted for Hillary). We’re not France.

And so it began, our nation’s journey with the Trump administration, and so it continues.

There has been the Muslim ban, the effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would place 24 million people in jeopardy, the decimation of the EPA, the hollowing out of the State Department, the allegation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, and so much more. Crises, one after the other, like waves hitting a beach, constant drama and turmoil, prevaricating and dissembling.

But nothing has been more disconcerting than the Russian connection. The linkage of the Trump campaign to the Russian hacking, including Wikileaks, took on a more ominous dimension when Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser to Trump, was linked to phone conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, regarding sanctions. Trump grudgingly fired him.

The word collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia began to appear (18 contacts have now been reported). An investigation by the FBI and two congressional committees were soon underway as was the relentless reporting by the press.

Then, abruptly, FBI Director James Comey was fired. The day after the termination, Trump met with Kislyak and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in the Oval Office. Imagine. Only a Russian photographer was allowed to attend; our press was excluded.

It has since been reported that during this meeting Trump shared highly classified intelligence (reportedly from Israel), so sensitive it was not intended to be revealed even to our allies. The Russians could, potentially, reverse-engineer the information and discover its source.

Through all of this I have waited for the Republicans to step forward, country before party, their cynical reticence puzzling at best. From the outset, they slow-walked the congressional investigations. Their hair should have been on fire. Recall the Benghazi hearings.

The Russian connection to our election and to the present administration represents a profound danger to our democracy and a possible constitutional crisis.

A special counsel, Robert Mueller, respected ex-FBI director, has finally been named to head the investigation.

— Chris Honoré of Ashland is a Daily Tidings columnist.