Russia, Leaks and Lies

This week Trump poured gasoline over the dumpster fire he’s made of American democracy. One intelligence leak after another sent the administration further into denial about its ties to Russia. Here’s what we know:

-First, Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign amid evidence he was vulnerable to blackmail through his communication with Russian diplomats.

-Then, The New York Times revealed consistent communication between Russian operatives and influential Trump campaign advisers dating back to 2015.

-Finally, evidence emerged that Flynn may have committed a felony by lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia

The escalation culminated in a dizzying news conference on Thursday, Feb. 16, during which Trump sought to forcefully delegitimize the “fake media.” Here are the highs:

While the President appeared incoherent and stubbornly uninformed, it was smart politics. The press conference was a glorious distraction from a series of regressive changes taking shape behind the scenes:

-Trump revealed his Administration’s official plan for the federal budget. It calls for sweeping tax cuts, increased spending on border security and the military, and deep cuts in public programs. According to the Wall Street Journal, leading economists dismissed the budget as “unrealistic” and containing intentionally misleading economic figures.

-A memo drafted by the White House was exposed which details plans by the Department of Homeland Security to mobilize 100,000 National Guard troops to round up and deport illegal immigrants.

-Trump repealed the “Stream Protection Rule,” making it legal for coal companies to dump waste into streams and waterways.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill…

Here’s the major legislation Republicans introduced to Congress this week:

-A law to “terminate” the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education

-A law named the “Secret Science Reform Act” restricting the EPA’s ability to use scientific research to justify environmental regulation

-A law to eliminate nutrition standards in schools

-A law  to repeal the Endangered Species Act

-A law requiring the US to sell off 3.3 million acres of public land

Republicans in the House are resisting calls to use their authority to check the power of the President. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is ignoring bipartisan pressure to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving Trump, his businesses and the Russian government. Instead, he is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee involved in setting up Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The Senate, however, is starting to sour. Republicans have joined Democrats in initiating investigations into the Administration. Notably, 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain, forcefully denounced Trump’s deceptive worldview at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Feb. 17 in front of America’s closest allies. Watch from 3:40 –

“…Alarmed by the growing inability and even unwillingness to separate truth from lies.”

Red America Abroad

Allies from Berlin to Tokyo are signaling deep concerns about American stability and its commitment to global leadership. After meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, Trump abandoned a decades-old consensus of American and European foreign policy: the United States will no longer insist on a Palestinian state as a requisite for Middle East peace. On Thursday, however, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations seemed to contradict his position, stressing that the US strongly supports a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Here’s a list of everything foreign leaders have said about the new American government in the month since Trump took office.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after meeting with President Trump on Feb. 13, 2017.

Analysis

Fault lines emerged in the new Washington war zone this week, reflecting growing suspicion about the competence and integrity of the new administration. The revelations connecting the Trump campaign to Russia’s cyber attack on the 2016 election bolsters the narrative that’s been clear to those paying attention all along: Russia is successfully executing a shrewd geopolitical strategy. Through subverting the American government, Russia seeks to divide America against itself, sow domestic instability, and weaken its influence abroad.

Americans have hardly been the first victims of Russian sabotage. Eastern Europe is consistently subject to Russian cyber and military dominance, and Putin has already begun meddling in the upcoming French and German Presidential elections. Putin has long prioritized the reassertion of Russian power, working to undermine European unity and challenge America’s global leadership.

The central question: will Trump remain complicit in Russian aggression or respond in defense of American democracy and the interests of its allies around the world?

@amorybeldock

 


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