Let Slip the Dogs of Impeachment

In my last article, I warned that the impeachment clock was running out of time. House Democrats were divided on the issue of impeachment. However, over the past week, the support in the House for impeachment has made a quantum leap.

The news broke late last week that a whistleblower from within the intelligence community filed a formal complaint regarding nefarious behavior on the part of Trump and his minions. That complaint was sent to the inspector general of the intelligence community. The inspector general reviewed the complaint and deemed the whistleblower to be credible and his complaint to be of high national importance. The whistleblower described an “urgent matter” in which he or she disclosed that the Trump administration was soliciting the highest levels of the Ukrainian government, including its president, for damaging information against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump intended to use this information against Biden, who he views as his greatest threat in the 2020 presidential election. 

Trump and members of his administration withheld aid and military support to Ukraine in exchange for them producing damaging information against Biden and his son. Biden’s son was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company that was being investigated by the Ukrainian government while Biden was vice president. Biden threatened to withhold a billion dollars in U.S. loan guarantees if Ukrainian officials didn’t take action to reduce its rampant corruption. This also included Ukrainian’s top prosecutor who was affiliated with the investigation into the energy company. However, it wasn’t just Biden who was targeting Ukraine’s corruption —it was the position of the entire U.S. government, particularly the State Department. Therefore, Biden’s stance was well within the parameters of U.S. foreign policy. Moreover, as vice president, Biden did not have the authority to unilaterally withhold U.S. loan guarantees.

The whistleblower’s complaint alleges that Trump made a “promise” to the Ukrainian president. This all took place over a phone call in late July 2019. And yet a week before the phone call took place, the Trump administration withheld $400 million in aid to the Ukrainian government. The act of withholding the aid was intended to create leverage over Ukraine, pressuring them to comply. Trump, according to the whistleblower, also asked the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into the origins of the Russia election interference investigation.

Trump conspiring to use the power of his office to damage a political opponent is not merely unethical, it’s illegal. It appears members of Trump’s inner circle understood the gravity of the situation and as a result, sought to cover it up. White House officials reportedly instructed Trump’s lawyers to move all electronic evidence of the exchange(s) to a secure server that’s only used for “especially sensitive” information (e.g. top secret). By having the record of the exchange(s) stored in a server only used for classified information, it would make it much harder to ever see the light of day. 

As per regulation, the inspector general forwarded the whistleblower’s complaint to the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. The Director of National Intelligence is an appointed, cabinet-level position. Maguire was attempting to conceal the complaint. He didn’t send it to the congressional intelligence committees, as dictated by regulation, within seven days. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for the complaint, which was disobeyed by Maguire. He claimed he reviewed the complaint and determined it was not an urgent matter. He also cited the fact that it involved classified material. And, as previously mentioned, it only contained “classified” material because Trump’s lawyer’s attempted to obscure it on the secure server. 

This past Thursday, Maguire finally testified before the House Intelligence Committee. If Trump was hoping for a William Barr or Steve Mnuchin’s performance of cabinet members obstructing a congressional hearing, he misjudged Maguire. During the hearing, Maguire did attempt to dodge questions, but his testimony was nonetheless damning. Trump, earlier in the week, attacked the motives of the whistleblower, calling him or her a “political hack.” Maguire contradicted Trump’s attack by saying he believed the whistleblower was “acting in good faith.” Maguire also said, “I am not familiar with any prior instances where a whistleblower complaint touched on such complicated and sensitive issues, including executive privilege. I believe that this matter is unprecedented.” 

The whistleblower seems to have known there would be an effort to conceal their complaint. They intentionally wrote the complaint so that the first nine pages did not include any classified information, which would make it much easier to release. And on Thursday, in a rare act of unity, both the House and the Senate voted unanimously to have the whistleblower complaint released to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The unclassified portion of the complaint is available for the public to view for themselves.

As the events of the past week unfolded, Democratic members of the House who were reluctant to initiate impeachment proceedings were joining the rest of the Democrats in the House. The number of House members supporting an impeachment inquiry was growing by the hour. As of this moment, 223 House Democrats, an Independent (Justin Amash), and a single Republican (Mark Amodei) support an impeachment inquiry. 

With the revelations coming from the whistleblower’s complaint, coupled with all the other instances of misconduct by this president, on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi formally announced the initiation of impeachment proceedings against Trump. Pelosi made her historic statement with a succession of American flags in the background:

“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.” 

While many, including myself, have argued in favor of impeachment well before the whistleblower complaint, the sheer magnitude of the allegations could very well be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back –at least in the House. It’s now up to the House to thoroughly –and without reservation– investigate this president and make an appeal to the public in support of impeachment. 

If the House sees fit to issue Articles of Impeachment, the case will be passed to the Senate for a trial. However, with Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader, it’s possible he may not even allow a trial to take place or drag it out, betting on a re-election in 2020. He would be violating the constitution, but that’s never stopped him from obstructing the legislative process before. This is why it’s critical the House does an effective and consistent job of unearthing all the bodies Trump has buried under the White House. It’s critical that the momentum of the past week is maintained throughout the proceedings. If the majority of the public supports impeachment, the Republican-controlled Senate will be pressured to act.

Nixon’s impeachment process steadily gained public support. It started out with most Americans being against impeachment, but after they heard the barrage of revelations of Nixon’s wrongdoings and coverups, public support swayed in favor of impeachment. Nixon, however, resigned before he could be convicted by the Senate. 

Trump is not Nixon. If Articles of Impeachment are passed and a trial is held in the Senate, it’s unlikely that Trump will go quietly into the night. Trump is going to do everything he can to hold onto power. It’s not merely a matter of ego –it could potentially be his very freedom that’s at stake. The substance of the whistleblower’s complaint is a clearly-defined act of criminality. Trump has used the power of the presidency for personal gain. There’s a Department of Justice guideline that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, but no such guideline exists for a former president. There’s no telling what an unhinged and amoral individual like Trump will do when he’s truly desperate.

The coming months will be tumultuous but necessary. Trump is the very incarnation of why the founders added the power of impeachment to the constitution. The integrity of our whole system of government is at stake. The presidency has already been tainted with immorality, deceit, and corruption. Yet the House now has the opportunity to show the world that the American republic can survive a rogue and lawless tyrant, “and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”

Impeachment is Slipping Away

Trump has been engaged in impeachable offenses since taking office. His presidency has been plagued with corruption, chaos, and negligence. He’s been aided and abetted by those in his own administration, as well as the Republican Party as a whole. 

The Republicans controlled both houses of Congress for the first two years of the Trump presidency. However, after the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats seized the majority. Nancy Pelosi was once again chosen to be the House Majority Leader. Since taking control of the House, Pelosi has continuously stated that she wanted to wait for solid evidence before bringing an impeachment inquiry to the floor. There’s been more than enough evidence to take action.

The Mueller investigation concluded many months ago. Mueller uncovered ten possible instances of obstruction of justice within the scope of his investigation. At the time, an impeachment inquiry seemed inevitable, but it’s continuously been pushed back. Most of the problems stemmed from the Trump administration being uncooperative with congressional requests and subpoenas. The administration has consistently obstructed Congress’s ability to check and balance the executive branch. As a result, Congress is no longer a co-equal branch of government.

The founders created checks and balances in the constitution to prevent this kind of situation from happening. Unfortunately, with a Republican Party that’s complicit and therefore unwilling to honor their oaths to protect and defend the constitution, the constitutional remedies are restrained. 

If the Democrat-controlled House passed Articles of Impeachment, it’s unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to convict. In fact, with Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader in the Senate, it’s unlikely an impeachment trial would even take place. McConnell is notorious for obstructing the legislative process in the Senate if it’s not in his own interest. 

Even if the Senate is unlikely to bring an impeachment trial to the floor, the House should still move to pass Articles of Impeachment. The Democrats in the House haven’t been united on this front. Some are eager to move the impeachment process along, while others are reluctant to act. Pelosi has notoriously been ambiguous about her position. Her ambiguity is intentional. While she certainly doesn’t support or condone Trump’s actions, she thinks an impeachment process would be divisive for the public to endure. However, there are times when politicking must be put aside for the greater good and that time is now.

The country has been waking up, every day, to a never-ending national nightmare. Trump has become more emboldened by the lack of any meaningful accountability or consequences. As more information comes out about the administration’s corruption, there’s been more pressure on the House to take action. Just in the past couple of weeks, it’s been reported –again– that Trump is profiting off his position. This is a violation of the emoluments clause in Article I of the constitution, which essentially states a public official cannot profit from their position of power. Trump’s unabashed corruption has forced the hand of the House to at least make it seem like something is being done, which has sent out mixed signals. This past week, the House Judiciary Committee approved definitions for an impeachment inquiry. These definitions are meant to create a set of parameters for an impeachment inquiry. Jerry Nadler, the committee’s chairman, said an impeachment inquiry was underway. However, shortly after making the statement, Pelosi said the committee isn’t engaged in an impeachment inquiry. She’s staying away from the word “impeachment.”

The closer we get to the 2020 presidential election, it becomes less and less likely the House will pass Articles of Impeachment. If the House Democrats continue to be disunited on initiating impeachment proceedings, it will forever be a stain on this House. Trump’s criminality, bigotry, and recklessness have severely damaged the integrity of the presidency. The House’s integrity will be jeopardized by not seizing the moment to counteract his trespasses.

There’s never been a president, or any elected official, who’s been more deserving of impeachment. If the Senate is unwilling to hold a trial, then so be it: let Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans in Congress forever bear weakness and subversion as their legacy. The world and future generations of Americans need to know our elected representatives in the House stood up and took action against the greatest internal threat this country has ever faced. The clock is ticking and it’s just minutes to midnight. 

Trump is a National Security Threat

Since becoming president, Donald Trump has never been mentally or morally fit to lead the country. The majority of Americans understood this, which is why he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Most people saw him for what he was: a bully and malignant con man. 

Despite his recklessness and viciousness during the 2016 campaign, there were many Americans who presumed Trump would magically be humbled by the sheer weight of the responsibility that comes with being the leader of the free world. This, as we all know, never happened. 

This president has been unhinged, impulsive, and erratic from the day he took office. Month by month, week by week, and day by day, his strange and scornful behavior has progressively gotten worse and more frequent. This comes in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, economists warning we may be on the cusp of a recession, as well as the turn of once-loyal supporters, such as Anthony Scaramucci. 

Trump’s rhetoric of bigotry, racism, and xenophobia have contributed to the deaths of the Americans who were killed in El Paso. This trickle-down hatred resulting in murder is not an isolated incident. El Paso wasn’t the first time a mass murderer cited Trump’s language in their social media content. There have been other mass shooters who have adopted his vile rhetoric and have acted on it. 

It hasn’t even been a year since a deranged Trump supporter sent mail bombs to Trump’s self-expressed enemies. Thankfully, the bombs sent to the thirteen prominent Democrats (e.g. Barack Obama) and media personalities (e.g. Chris Cuomo) didn’t detonate. 

There’s been a surge in hate crimes committed by white supremacists since he entered office. The problem’s been so significant that the House Judiciary Committee was compelled to investigate it. In April, the committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, saying they intend to  “examine the causes of racial and religious violence, assess the adequacy of federal hate crimes statutes, and scrutinize targeted domestic surveillance of specific groups.” 

When he’s not spewing racist and xenophobic language from his mouth and Twitter account, he’s been ranting and raving like a lunatic. This past week he made anti-Semitic remarks, saying Jews who voted for Democrats show a “total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A Trump-supporting author came to Trump’s defense by likening him to the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God.” Trump, quoted the author and tweeted it out to the world. He’s not just expressing delusions of grandeur but delusions of divinity

Trump ranted about his intention to buy Greenland, an independent country in the Kingdom of Denmark. The Prime Minister of Denmark said the idea of buying Greenland was “absurd,” which it is, and resulted in Trump cancelling his planned trip to Denmark and estranging yet another American ally. Trump called the prime minister “nasty,” and ever the hypocrite, said, “you don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.” He mispronounced the word “absurd” multiple times, saying “you-surb,” showing his deteriorating mental acuity. And it only got stranger. He paused for a moment and said, “somebody had to do it,” then turned and looked up at the sky, saying, “I am the Chosen One.” Again, this is beyond a messiah complex, these are delusions of divinity. 

Trump’s erratic behavior, coupled with him being devoid of a moral compass, is a literal threat to national security. The day-to-day media saturation of the sheer lunacy being churned out of Trump’s mouth and Twitter account has desensitized Americans to this behavior. If you really sit back, reset your mind and think about it, it’s disturbing. 

The terrifying reality we now live in has a president who is clearly mentally unstable. Trump’s a raving lunatic clothed with immense power and it should disturb all Americans. He has access to the nuclear codes. This unstable individual has the potential and power to wipe out a majority of humanity with a single impulsive decision. 

The nuclear threat is real. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group of scientists who gauge how close humanity is to annihilation, uses a clock as a metaphor to inform citizens of the world how close we are to the abyss. We’re two minutes to midnight; midnight being the destruction of the world. The clock has been at two minutes to midnight since 2018, and was two-and-a-half minutes to midnight in 2017. 

Moreover, the nuclear threat has gotten dramatically worse over the past few weeks. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was signed by the U.S. and the former Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War, has been dissolved.

Russia tested a nuclear-powered cruise missile a couple of weeks ago. The test failed and the missile blew up, which killed at least five Russians. The true death toll is unknown and some are reporting it may be the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. 

Just a week after Russia’s missile disaster, Trump’s military tested a modified Navy Tomahawk cruise missile off the coast of California. The range of the U.S. missile exceeded the range limit of the now-defunct INF treaty. Under the Trump presidency, a new nuclear-arms race has commenced. 

Most of us think there’s responsible, sane people behind the scenes making sure Trump doesn’t act on his worst impulses, but most of those people have left the administration. And as each person leaves, they’re replaced with unqualified and blindly loyal officials and advisors –a dangerous combination. 

As Trump’s house of cards appears to be falling, the potential for an authoritarian hostile takeover of the federal government increases. What will happen if he loses the 2020 election? Does anyone seriously think he’ll go quietly into the night? There’s a real possibility, for the first time in American history, that there won’t be a peaceful transfer of power —a hallmark of the American democratic process. 

He’s already made threats of the military, police, and “Bikers for Trump” being on his side. He’s threatened there’d be a bloody civil war if he loses in 2020. He’s thrown around the idea of cancelling the 2020 election. And just this week he made the bizarre claim that Google hacked the 2016 popular vote, giving “millions” of votes to Hillary Clinton (they didn’t). His intent is clear: if he doesn’t win the 2020 election, he will say the election was rigged. Aside from his fragile ego, there’s a myriad of on-going criminal investigations that cite him as an unnamed co-conspirator, which could subject him to criminal prosecution once he leaves office. Therefore, the question that should concern all of us is what will he do if he loses

The country’s in a strange and dark place, and as the 2020 election gets closer, it’s only going to get stranger and darker. Trump’s erratic behavior will continue to get worse. He’s the most powerful person in the country and a national security threat. The lives and well being of Americans are in the hands of a madman. The American people cannot lose touch with this reality. 

Trump’s Trickle-Down Hatred

The United States is in a state of distress and turmoil. The country experienced two more mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH within 24 hours of one another. The mass shooting in El Paso resulted in the deaths of 22 people and an additional 9 deaths in Dayton, among many more who’ve been injured. There have been 255 mass shootings in the United States in 2019. Mass shootings, in frequency and scope, are a uniquely American problem. As the number of radical hate groups rise, so have the mass shootings. The El Paso murderer was specifically targeting “hispanics.” 

These mass shootings have been happening long before Donald Trump became president, yet it’s now a grim reality that the President of the United States is culpable for at least some of them –provoking far-right extremists to commit mass murder based on his own rhetoric. He’s had a long, documented history of racism and discrimination. Trump’s rhetoric has been steeped in fear mongering, racism, and xenophobia since he announced his candidacy for president at Trump Tower in the summer of 2015. He generalized an entire group of people as “criminals” and “rapists,” then adding as if it was an afterthought, that he assumes “some” are good people. 

Since becoming president, his malice-filled tone hasn’t changed; in fact, it’s become more extreme. We’ve consistently witnessed the actions of a president who can rightfully be characterized as a white supremacist. One of his first actions as president was a Muslim ban by executive order. The courts were quick to dissolve the executive order, but the presidential tone had been set.

There was the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, NC, which resulted in the death of a young woman peacefully protesting against the anti-Semitic and racist ideologies being flaunted. Trump responded by saying there were “fine people on both sides” of the protest. There were white supremacists and then people protesting against them, yet he considered the white supremacists to be “fine people.” The white supremacists were thrilled with his response, while the rest of the country watched in shock.

As the 2018 midterm elections were approaching, Trump used his racist rhetoric and fear mongering to help Republican congressional candidates, as well as a ploy to get funds for his border wall. He started using the word “invasion” to describe the migrants attempting to enter the United States from the southern border. He manufactured a crisis by relentlessly spewing the word “invasion.” The word “invasion” was used with a militaristic spin, which therefore implied that the country was under attack. They spoke of caravans of tens of thousands of migrants coming to the border, with right-wing media personalities supplementing Trump’s propaganda by reporting these were violent, military-age men. Trump declared a national emergency and sent thousands of soldiers to the border to thwart off the so-called invasion. After the midterm elections were over, most of the troops were recalled. There was never an attempted invasion. It was propaganda used to instill fear in the public with the intent of influencing the midterm elections. 

The real crisis at the border started coming to light in the past few months. The Trump administration has intentionally been bottlenecking the asylum process at the border, which ensured to minimize the number of migrants being considered for asylum. This administration started an inhumane policy of separating children from their parents at the border. This was not being used as a child-protection measure, it was being used as a deterrent.

Then came reports of a humanitarian crisis: human beings were being treated worse than animals. Children were forced to sleep on concrete floors with aluminum blankets. These children were packed into caged-off areas that were originally designed to hold adults. And they were designed to hold a fraction of the number of people they were packing in. When the media and members of Congress started looking into the crisis, Trump became combative, saying it was fake news. He also lied and said it wasn’t him but President Obama who started separating families. 

Then there’s the wave of racist rhetoric coming from Trump’s mouth and Twitter account. He attacked four congresswomen of color. He told them to go back to their own countries. These are four American citizens, duly-elected to Congress. Three of them were born in America and one became a naturalized citizen decades ago. This kind of rhetoric, “go back to…” goes back to the Jim Crow south. When schools were being integrated, it was common for the racist white protestors to yell out “go back to Africa,” which like Trump’s racist remarks, doesn’t make logical sense since they were born in America. During a rally held shortly after the tweets, Trump targeted his attack on one of the four congresswomen, Ilhan Omar (D-MN). In response to the attack, the MAGA crowd disturbingly began chanting “Send her back!” repeatedly. Trump stood there with a smile on his face, basking in the hatred. Trump’s actions caused such an outrage that the House, for the first time in over 100 years, voted to formally condemn the president.  

Just before the massacre, Trump started targeting the chair of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-MD). He used racially-inflammatory language calling Cummings’ district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human would want to live.” Based on logical reasoning, Trump is calling the people living in Cummings’ district subhuman. Since “no human would want to live there,” the people living there aren’t fully human. This is clearly a racist attack on not only a respected and distinguished member of Congress, but on an entire community. This further exemplifies his white supremacist ideology, as well as demonstrates the argument made in a previous article that Trump is not president for all Americans, he’s president for his supporters. Trump’s attack against Cummings came after Mueller’s testimony before two House committees. He didn’t choose to attack the white chairmen of the other committees investigating him, he targeted the black chairmen. 

This is the same racist pattern as the attack on the four congresswomen of color. Part of his reasoning for the attack was that they’re socialists. Yet Bernie Sanders, the only member of Congress who’s a self-declared socialist and a major critic of Trump, was never told to go back to his country. In fact, he’s never told any white member of Congress to go back to their own country.  

These are all just some of the examples of the racist, amoral, and hate-filled rhetoric Trump has been spewing out of his mouth and Twitter account for years now. As President of the United States, his perceived authority gives significant weight to his rhetoric. Amongst his supporters, he’s normalized hate speech. For example, just a few months ago during a campaign rally in Florida, he continuously used the word “invasion” when referring to immigrants. When he asked the crude MAGA crowd what he should do about it, someone yelled out “shoot them.” Trump smiled and joked, “only in the panhandle [can you get away with that].” Well, just last week, someone did “shoot them.”

The mass murderer in El Paso specifically targeted the city because he wanted to kill “hispanics.” We know this because he wrote it in his so-called manifesto. In the manifesto, the mass murderer used the word “invasion” numerous times to justify the massacre. The manifesto also featured some of the same talking points used by Trump and right-wing media personalities like Tucker Carlson. 

There’s a serious problem in this country when you can’t readily tell the difference between a mass murdering white supremacist’s manifesto and the Twitter account of the President of the United States. Trump didn’t physically pull the trigger, but his racist, hateful, and divisive rhetoric undoubtedly made pulling the trigger easier for the El Paso mass murderer. Any reasonably-minded person can conclude that Trump is culpable in this mass murder. The proverbial blood is on his hands.  

After the weekend of mass shootings, Trump addressed the country. He was in full Trump-teleprompter mode, coldly reading words off a screen with no emotion or sincerity. He did denounce white supremacy, but it was utterly unconvincing, which makes sense since he is a racist and a majority of Americans agree. He went on to blame “violent video games” and “mental illness” for the attack, which are lies. There’s no evidence that violent video games cause mass shootings. Moreover, statistically, people suffering from mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than to commit it. 

When an Islamic terrorist commits a mass murder, the blame is quickly attributed to their extremist ideology of hate. However, when an American commits an act of domestic terrorism, excuses like “violent video games” and “mental health” are used. The only difference between foreign terrorists and domestic terrorists is their specific brand of extremist ideology. They’re two sides of the same sadistic coin. It’s time domestic terrorism is treated with the same attention and resolve as foreign terrorism. Americans are far more likely to be killed by a domestic terrorist than a foreign terrorist, so it’s an urgent matter of national security that laws are enacted to curtail the domestic threat.

On the Monday following the mass murders, Trump went to El Paso and Dayton to meet with and console the victims’ families. The mass shootings are a national tragedy. Trump himself ordered flags across the country to be flown at half mast. And yet, in a time of tragedy, he spent the day attacking political opponents and bragging about the reception he received on his visit. His administration produced a video, which was posted on social media, of Trump visiting the two cities. The video had the tone and production value of a campaign ad. It depicted people waving and smiling at Trump. To say the video was in poor taste would be a gross understatement. 

The most disturbing moment of his one-day “consolation” tour was a photo taken in El Paso, which is the photo featured in this article. A 2-month old baby was a victim of the El Paso mass shooting. The baby is now orphaned after both parents were killed shielding the child. The baby broke a few fingers and was discharged from the hospital by the time Trump showed up. However, the baby was brought back to the hospital to see Trump. In the photo, you can see Trump grinning and giving a thumbs-up. Melania Trump has a chilling smile on her face as well. The wildly inappropriate and disturbing photo was posted on one of Melania’s social media accounts the same day. An orphaned child being used as a prop while Trump and his wife’s faces are gleeful is not only aloof but dark. The essence of his consolation tour is summed up in that photo. 

This is one of the darkest and most volatile times this country has ever experienced on the domestic front. There’s been more mass shootings this year than there have been days in the year; we’re averaging more than one per day. The rise of white supremacy is directly correlated with the rise of Trump and the MAGA movement. This isn’t just about a president who engages in criminal conduct, it’s about a president who is himself a national security risk. It’s never been more apparent that having a president devoid of any sense of morality endangers not only American democracy and American values, but is literally endangering Americans. There is no moral relativism when it comes to supporting this president: if you support a racist then you’re part of the problem. The time for being on the sidelines has passed. It’s time to choose sides in this defining battle for the soul of America. 

Putin, Trump, and Moscow Mitch: An Unholy Alliance

The United States is and has been under attack by Putin’s Russian Federation. This isn’t news to informed citizens; it’s been in the public domain for years now. However, as time passes and more investigations unearth the vast scale and severity of Putin’s hostile acts against this nation, the national security apparatus has never been more sure of what the Russians did in 2016, what they’re doing now, and what they intend to do during the 2020 presidential election.

The Russian threat


Putin has plotted and deployed a cyberwar on two fronts against the United States. The first front involves infiltrating our electoral systems to gather intelligence on American voters, and probing for vulnerabilities in the technical infrastructure that facilitates electoral regulation and administration. If the Russians find just a single exploit in a single state, they’ll have the ability to sabotage the outcome of the 2020 election.    

The second front is an insidious and highly-targeted campaign to influence the election by infecting the very fabric of our society. This is dispensed mostly through social media. There’s literally an army of cyber soldiers –manifested by humans and artificial intelligence– whose task is to corrupt the hearts and minds of American voters. This is carried out by fake news campaigns: attacking candidates unfavorable to Russian interests while promoting candidates favorable to Russian interests. 

An example of this type of interference is the 2016 hack on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) network. They stole tens of thousands of emails from the DNC. Some of these emails were released via DCLeaks in the summer of 2016. However, what’s most revealing about their intentions was the timing of their release. They saved nearly 20,000 emails mined from the personal gmail account of John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. These emails were systematically released in October 7, 2016, just 30 minutes after news outlets began running Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape, which featured Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. At the time, the Access Hollywood tape was widely thought –even from within the Trump campaign– to ruin Trump’s bid for the presidency. However, the release of Podesta’s emails served as a timely distraction which saved Trump’s candidacy. And for the rest of the month, to keep the attention on the emails and off the Access Hollywood tape, Wikileaks portioned out daily email releases until the end of October, nearly a week before Election Day. Wikileaks accomplished this feat by working with a hacker, at the time, only known as “Gucifer 2.0.” During the Mueller investigation, it was revealed that the Gucifer 2.0 persona was actually an operation carried out by Russia’s modern-day KGB, the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. 

The Russians manufacture propaganda and disperse it on social media platforms. Their propaganda is spread by unwitting Americans, thinking they’re viewing factual news based in reality. They also paid for advertisements on these platforms to ensure their propaganda reaches a wider audience. 

The Russians, as seen in 2016, are especially interested in targeting swing districts. These are districts that are especially unpredictable since the political party affiliations amongst the electorate are neck and neck. Flipping swing districts, one district at a time, would have the most significant overall impact on a state’s Electoral College votes. 

After the 2016 presidential election, every single one of our intelligence agencies investigated, concluded, and concurred that Russia interfered in the election. The Mueller investigation not only corroborated what the intelligence agencies found, but compounded on it. The Mueller team was able to convict 26 Russian nationals, as well as three Russian companies who conspired to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller dedicated an entire volume of his report –nearly 200 pages– to Russian Interference, and as the report concluded, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” 

And over 2 ½ years later, investigators are still uncovering just how large a web the Russian’s managed to weave. The Senate Intelligence Committee, just a little over a week ago, released a bipartisan report that concluded the Russians targeted the electoral infrastructure, as well as voter registration databases, in every single state in America.

Why Trump and McConnell refuse to protect American elections


Putin attacked the lifeblood of American democracy –the electoral process– in 2016. The evidence is not only overwhelming, it’s indisputable. It was the first major cyberattack perpetrated against the United States during a presidential election, and it wasn’t a singular event. They are intent on striking again in 2020. However, the two most powerful men in the country, Trump and McConnell, are refusing to act, which is a clear and present threat to national security.

The problem starts with Trump. Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that proves Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, he still refuses to even acknowledge it. In fact, he’s continuously sided with Putin over the 2016 election interference. He’s literally taken the word of a brutal dictator over the word of the democratic institutions in his own country. It’s not only the disturbing fact of taking the word of a hostile foreign power over our entire national security apparatus, he values Putin’s word over some members of his own administration. 

Just this week, Trump had a phone conversation with Putin. On Thursday, a reporter posed the question to Trump, “Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections right now. Did you raise that with Putin?” Trump responded, “You don’t really believe this, do you?” The reporter retorted, “He said it last week. Did you raise it?” Trump then said, “We didn’t talk about it.” Trump then went on to lie about Mueller’s testimony and made crude comments about Mueller’s acuity during his testimony. 

Trump’s unwillingness to acknowledge Russian interference isn’t out of ignorance. It’s due to two main reasons: pride and greed. His fragile ego can’t accept the fact he didn’t win solely based on his electability. Therefore, any inference of election interference implies he’s quite possibly an illegitimate president. 

Then there’s greed. He knows the Russian’s gave him, at the very least, an edge in an already tight election –an election in which he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. Since being elected, Trump’s highest approval rating was 46% and his average approval rating is 40% (Gallup). By all metrics, he’s an unpopular president amongst the majority of the American people. It’s reasonable to assume Trump doesn’t think he could be reelected without Russian interference. And therefore, he’s willing to betray the sanctity of American democracy in order to get himself reelected. There are other unconfirmed factors that may also be at play. He has a long, documented history of having financial and business ties to Russia. During the 2016 campaign, he was actively trying to close a deal with the Russian government (i.e. Putin) to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. There’s also the possibility of the Russian’s having compromising material against him.

Enter Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. He’s ruled over the Senate like a dictator –continuously blocking bills from reaching the Senate floor for a vote. This is especially true when it comes to the election security bills: he’s blocked nine over the past two years. On July 25th, he blocked two election security bills in a single day.

McConnell’s refusal to allow duly-elected members of the U.S. Senate to vote on an election security bill has branded him with a moniker that’s unlikely to fade away: Moscow Mitch. McConnell hasn’t been happy with his new nickname, which prompted him to justify his decision to block the bills by saying, “I’m not going to let Democrats and their water carriers in the media to use Russia’s attack on our democracy as a Trojan horse for a partisan wish list of items.” 

These so-called partisan “wish-list items” include making paper ballots a requirement, the protection to audit elections to ensure no indications of sabotage were present, ensuring states and local governments have the resources needed to update and maintain the integrity of electoral infrastructure, among other protections. These items aren’t ideological, they’re common-sense protections against the foreign interference that’s already happened. 

The only conclusion that can be made is McConnell understands Putin wants Trump and Trump-supporting members of Congress in power. Therefore, allowing these protections to be put to a vote and likely passed as law, has the real potential to damage GOP electoral prospects in 2020. There’s only one conclusion to be made: McConnell is open to Russian interference as long as it benefits his party.

After McConnell’s most recent election security bill block, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, “Russia’s biggest ally in its quest to infiltrate elections again is Mitch McConnell.” He also added, “I believe foreign, hostile actors are going to make what happened in 2016 look like small potatoes compared to 2016.” 

Justin Amash (I-MI), who was a lifelong Republican up until a little over a month ago when he began speaking out against Trump’s obstruction of justice as documented in the Mueller Report. Amash was the only Republican member of the House to speak out against Trump’s criminality. He was outcast for doing so, and feeling dissatisfied with the Republican Party’s complacency with Trump’s behavior, he left the GOP and became an Independent. Amash tweeted about the McConnell situation, “There was a time when the GOP establishment hated Donald Trump. They then realized they could use a man like this—unprincipled, transactional, shameless—to push their agenda. McConnell and McCarthy are giddy about Trump. Conservatives in Congress are the ones privately horrified.” 

The Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, called out McConnell’s obstructive conduct in a piece entitled, Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset. In the piece, Milbank wrote, “[McConnell is] arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.”

Conclusions


It’s a seriously dangerous prospect that the two most powerful men in the country are willing to look the other way while a hostile foreign power ramps up their election-interference machine. This is not being done for any misguided political ideology, it’s being done to maintain power. The promise of democracy is that power is vested in the people, and it’s the people who have the power to elect our leaders into positions of power, as granted by the constitution. 

This is beyond McConnell choosing party over country; he’s choosing power over the integrity of our democracy. Trump and McConnell are, in one way or the other, in bed with Putin, and our national security is at risk because of it. They can hug the flag and wear their American-flag lapel pins, but it’s merely a facade. These men aren’t patriots, they’re treacherous politicians willing to win at all costs –even if it means selling out their country to a foreign adversary.

As George Washington once warned, “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Mueller’s Testimony: Substance Matters

On July 24, 2019, Robert Mueller gave his long-anticipated testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. It’s been nearly two months since Mueller resigned from his position as Special Counsel from the Department of Justice. During Mueller’s resignation statement, he said if he were called before congress, he would only testify to the content in the Mueller Report. Mueller wasn’t being fictitious –that’s exactly what he did. 

While some in the media were hyping up his testimony, others were more measured in their forecast. Mueller is not –and has never been– one for theatrics or hyperbole. He built his reputation on professionalism, integrity, and objectivity.

As some media analysts foretold, there were no new bombshells that erupted from the congressional hearings. Mueller generally didn’t testify to anything that wasn’t already documented in the Mueller Report. Mueller didn’t stray from the confines he had set for himself. His answers were carefully worded and concise, and his demeanor was unassuming and measured.

As a result of Mueller’s by-the-book and short-winded answers, many members of the media were quick to characterize the hearings as “devastating,” a “disaster,” and some even described his demeanor as “weary.” It’s irresponsible for the media to spin such an important event in this way. This is something to be expected from most right-wing media outlets. Frankly, they were going to attack his testimony, as they’ve attacked his report, one way or the other. However, a fair share of the irresponsible framing of the testimony came from some pundits and analysts from the left-to-center mainstream media. 

We’re living in a unique time in American history. Before becoming President of the United States, most Americans knew Donald Trump from watching him on reality TV. Unfortunately, the manufactured drama and sensationalism of Trump’s reality-TV persona has never gone away. The only thing that changed was the set location: the White House. This kind of hyper-drama has become part of the media’s coverage of this administration. With Trump being loud and bombastic, it’s as if Mueller was expected to put on an act reflective of Trump’s reality TV-esque performances. If Mueller’s testimony is being judged mostly on his performance instead of its substance, then the public is not being adequately informed. 

This was never going to be something out of an episode of a courtroom drama or a scene from A Few Good Men. This is real life and this is serious. The implications of the Mueller Report and Mueller’s testimony –which essentially reiterated and emphasized facts from the report– couldn’t be more serious for our national security, as well as the future of our system of government.

The United States was, and still is being, attacked by the Russian Federation. The Russians are still actively engaged in acts of cyber-warfare against the United States. This is 21st-century warfare: instead of using traditional weapons of war to cause damage, the Russians are attacking us with hackers and sophisticated cyber weapons and assets. These cyber weapons of war are being used to create public discord by amplifying an already polarized political climate. They want Americans to not only distrust the electoral process and democratic institutions, but want to make Americans distrust one another by infecting the hearts and minds of millions of Americans by infiltrating our social media environments. 

This is a national security threat that’s being ignored by the Trump administration, as well as the overwhelming majority of the Republican Party. The Republican-controlled Senate has continuously dismissed legislation aimed to safeguard us from future cyber attacks. 

During his testimony on Russian interference in our elections, Mueller said “[Russia is] doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.” When he was asked about the Trump campaign accepting support from the Russains and the fact that contacts from a foreign adversary in a political campaign went unreported, he said: “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

There was only a single Republican congressman who even bothered to ask about Russian interference. A foreign adversary interfering in our elections and stoking division amongst Americans shouldn’t be a bipartisan issue. The fact that it is demonstrates that Republicans are putting their own self-interest over the country’s. 

Mueller also reiterated the evidence he uncovered on the part of his report that focused on obstruction of justice (Volume II) committed by Trump. In his report, Mueller found ten instances of possible obstruction of justice. Trump and his political supporters have spun the narrative that Mueller exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing. Trump has said repeatedly that he was “totally exonerated” by Mueller. While Mueller never had the power to hold Trump criminally accountable for the crime of obstructing justice, he did emphasize that he was unwilling to clear him of any wrongdoing. Mueller said, “The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.” Mueller was also asked if Trump could be prosecuted for crimes when he leaves office, in which he replied “True.”

Mueller did answer a question that wasn’t in the report, such as Trump’s characterization of the Mueller investigation being a “witch hunt.” Trump has been calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” from the beginning. He’s used the “witch hunt” phrase well over a hundred times, all in an attempt to corrupt the integrity of the investigation. When asked about this by a member of the House, Mueller said: “It is not a witch hunt.”

When the day’s long testimony concluded, Trump claimed a false victory. He lied and directly contradicted Mueller’s testimony. He said Mueller totally exonerated him, then later contradicting himself, said Mueller didn’t have the right to exonerate him. Trump was asked by a reporter about Mueller’s testimony pertaining to the fact Trump could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice when he leaves office, Trump lied and said Mueller corrected himself “…later on in the afternoon.” Trump then snapped at the reporter, saying “…you’re fake news. And you’re one of the most.” Trump’s political allies also engaged in this form of gaslighting. Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted, “Didn’t take long for Mueller to once again vindicate President [Trump]. No collusion. No obstruction. And now Mueller all but admits it was all along a total witch hunt.”

This is where we are as a country. The Mueller investigation concluded Russia did in fact interfere in our election, found at least 140 contacts between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and uncovered ten criminal acts of obstruction of justice by Trump. And Mueller reiterated and emphasized the details of his findings during his testimony. It was unfairly framed as a failure because some members of the media expected Mueller to turn into Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men. However, if you take a step back and really reflect on the substance of Mueller’s testimony, there were numerous bombshells worthy of a dystopian blockbuster movie.

Russia is a national security threat to the United States. In fact, investigators are finding that their interference in the 2016 presidential election was even worse than previously suspected. In a Senate Intelligence Committee report released just yesterday, investigators determined that Russia targeted election systems in every state in America. This includes hacking into voter registration systems, as well as state voting databases. 

Nonetheless, we have a president who refuses to even accept or acknowledge that the Russians interfered in the lifeblood of our democracy: the electoral process. He has taken the word of Vladimir Putin, a brutal dictator, over our own democratic institutions (intelligence agencies, Department of Justice, congressional investigators, etc). And the Republican Party continues to shamelessly support Trump’s position on Russian interference. They know it helped get him elected, and if the Russian’s want Trump in office, they also want Republicans in congress to support him. They’re allowing a foreign adversary to destroy us from within so they can preserve their own power. If an entire political party is unwilling to address, or even acknowledge, Russia’s interference and continued interference, then the party is rotten at the core. 

The House Democrats should be initiating impeachment proceedings. While it’s unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will ever even hold a trial if the House passes Articles of Impeachment, that’s not an excuse for not holding Trump accountable for his criminality and accepting the assistance of a foreign adversary. Mueller provided an abundance of evidence –the House needs to put his words into action. There has to come a point where political maneuvering takes a back seat to carrying out their sacred oath of office: to protect and defend the constitution.  

Trump, White Nationalism, and American Peril

This past week the country has experienced the most racially-inflammatory event since Charlottesville. The sitting President of the United States sent out a tweet, telling four congresswomen of color to go back to their country. Since then, the country has been in an uproar with most of the country rightfully outraged by the overt bigotry and racism promoted by the defunct leader of the free world. 

Over the past few years, it’s been commonplace for Trump to say something that violates our most basic societal norms and values. And saying it as the President of the United States makes it that much more disturbing. While most people weren’t shocked by the tweets –Trump has a long, consistent, and documented history of racism— it nonetheless sparked outrage due to the tweet’s blatant and unabashed racist rhetoric.

The tweets were directed at four charismatic, impassioned, and powerful freshmen members of the House of Representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). All four women are American citizens and duly-elected members of the House of Representatives. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib were all born in this country. Omar is a naturalized American citizen, immigrating to the United States as a young child.  

Trump’s basis for his racist attack was cited as “all they do is complain,” “in my opinion, they hate this country,” which led to him saying they should go back to their own countries. This is especially hypocritical since Trump, well before becoming president, has been one of the loudest critics of America. The use of the phrase “go back to their own countries” is the crux of the vile racism in these tweets. 

They are all American citizens –this is their country. The logic doesn’t even hold for three of the congresswomen since they were born in this country. And for Representative Omar, she immigrated to this country as a child and became a United States citizen at the age of seventeen, nearly twenty years ago. 

The language used by Trump is not only racist, but it’s also a disinformation tactic. None of the congresswomen ever said they hated America. They, like any well-meaning public servant, joined Congress to serve their country. They joined to make the country a better place for their constituents, as well as all Americans. Trump, and the rest of the GOP, have branded them as radical socialists, which just so happened to be the featured topic for last week’s article. The GOP as a whole has been trying to manipulate uninformed Americans into associating Democrats with Socialists. And, as we’ve seen through history, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it. 

Trump is infamous for attacking any person or organization that is critical of him or his policies. However, part of his alleged cause for attacking the four congresswomen was because they’re “socialists.” Senator Bernie Sanders is the only member of Congress who identifies as a Democratic Socialist. The four congresswomen are Democrats. Sanders has been one of Trump’s fiercest critics, yet Trump has never told him to go back to his country. In fact, Trump has never told any white person to go back to their country. 

This kind of language has been used by racist Americans for decades. In the 1960s, when schools in the south began integrating, those brave and courageous first African-American students had to walk through a gauntlet of bigoted southerners, shouting racist slurs. Among those racist slurs was “go back to your own country” and “go back to Africa.” It was racist then and it’s racist now. 

Trump has since not apologized for his bigoted tweets. In fact, he’s doubled-down on them. When asked by reporters if Trump was concerned by the “go back to your own country” part of his tweets, he replied with “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me. A lot of people love it, by the way.”

For most of the week, GOP lawmakers either rode to Trump’s defense or remained silent. Virtually all of the Trump’s legion of enablers refused to concede that the tweets were even racist. Some even tried spinning the nature of the tweets, like Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, saying “I believe this is about ideology. This is about socialism versus freedom.” 

A few days after posting the tweets, House Democrats made a decision to formally reprimand Trump for his racist rhetoric. For the first time in over 100 years, the House voted to condemn the conduct of a sitting president. The vote passed largely along party lines. Out of the 197 Republicans in the House, only four voted to condemn the racist language used by Trump –that’s only 2% of House Republicans. Representative Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party due to the GOP’s unwillingness to check the president’s misconduct described in the Mueller Report, is now an Independent and voted in favor of the reprimand. 

Trump’s iron-clad grip over the Republican Party was once again confirmed when the overwhelming majority of Republicans refused to condemn his tweets. The MAGA movement has finalized their hostile takeover of the Republican Party. The GOP once proudly called themselves the party of values, but they’re now they party of white nationalism. It’s not hyperbolic to characterize them this way. If lawmakers are willing to defend and stand by a president who uses racist language against their own colleagues, then they’re just as guilty of bigotry as Trump. 

A couple of days ago, Trump held a campaign rally in North Carolina. Trump tripled-down, attacking the four congresswomen once again, particularly Representative Omar. This led to a chilling chant from the MAGA crowd: “Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!” Trump didn’t stop the vileness, he stood there with his head raised, embracing the hate-filled energy in the arena. His rallies are infamous for being heinous, but they’ve descended to a much deeper level of depravity and malice. It was effectually a clan rally being held by the President of the United States in 2019. This is trickle-down hatred coming from the most powerful man in the country. It’s not some amoral campaign strategy, it’s dangerous.

White nationalist groups have praised the president’s conduct since he’s been in office. Whether it be the dozens of instances of race-baiting or holding white supremacists in the same esteem as Americans protesting racism (as Trump did after Charlottesville), the white supremacists in this country have their man in the White House. This week’s abhorrent conduct did not disappoint these bigots. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, said, “Man, President Trump’s Twitter account has been pure fire lately. This might be the funniest thing he’s ever tweeted. This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for.” 

The country is in a dangerous place. We need to accept the fact that Trump is a white nationalist, playing the racist chords that resonate with like-minded citizens. The four congresswomen are being used as scapegoats for all of Trump’s problems –or as Trump would see it, all of the country’s problems. There’s no limit to the deplorable nature of this president. With over two-dozen investigations taking place throughout the country, many of which are criminal in scope, he’s a wanted man on deferment. Since a sitting president cannot be indicted, his own freedom depends on maintaining power. Therefore, he’ll do anything to maintain it, even if it means burning the country to the ground to save himself.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. For the first time in human history, men walked on the moon. It was an incredible achievement for the United States and for the entire world. For a brief moment, all Americans were united in their pride, joy, and awe. 

While all Americans should pay homage to our greatest achievement as a country, it also needs to be contrasted with where we are fifty years later. The country has never been as divided as it is today. It’s a sad and frightening fact that the president is the one sowing of the seeds of division and discord. And the Republican Party have been complicit in this manufactured disunity. 

This is where America is in the summer of 2019. The proverbial dog whistle for politicians to communicate with racists has been exchanged for a megaphone. This racist conduct cannot go unanswered. It’s never been more important for Americans to express their condemnation against the hateful and racist rhetoric of the president and all those who support him. This is especially true for white Americans. Our friends, families, and neighbors of color need to know we are on their side and are willing to defend them at all costs. Remaining silent or being apathetic is no different than giving consent to the amoral ideology of white nationalism.

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.