collusion

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Originally Posted on June 16, 2017

As of Wednesday, June 14, nearly two hundred members of Congress agreed to file a lawsuit against Donald Trump, citing a violation of the emoluments clause. This suit is directly related to the President's refusal to disclose financial information, which may include gifts from foreign powers, gifts that the Legislative branch must consent for him to receive. Meanwhile, multiple investigations are underway to explore ties the administration has to Russia, including the possibility of treason. Attorney General Sessions has come under fire for failing to initially disclose, under oath, meetings with Russian officials and later claiminghe cannot recall said interactions in a Congressional hearing. With legal pressure ramping up against the Executive Branch, activist groups around the country are banding together for a nationwide Impeachment March on July 2nd. 

Join the Metro-Detroit Political Action Network at noon on Sunday in downtown Detroit to show Congress that Presidential impeachment has not just the consent, but the enthusiastic support of the people! Activists will gather at the Joe Louis Fist, on the corner of Woodward and Jefferson, for a rally before taking to the streets. Loud voices welcome, signs encouraged. 

Even without the suspicious relationship to Russia and violations of the Emoluments Clause, President Trump has done enough in his time in office to warrant removal from it. His travel ban has seen multiple defeats in court, and succeeded only in fomenting racism towards Muslims and refugees fleeing countries under seige by extremist insurgents. He mobilized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enact mass deportations of residents in America, a policy that finally struck Michigan. This week, ICE detained roughly 80 Iraqi Christians in Southest Michigan, at times raiding churches on Sunday, where the community gathered for worship. A return to Iraq could be a potential death sentence, due to religious persecution in the country.

The President furthered his assault on humanity by gutting regulations meant to protect the environment, including an executive order that removed protections on the country's waterways from waste dumping by coal plants. He's also attempting to sabotage healthcare by refusing to pay cost-share reductions to insurers, meant to protect low-income enrollees in the Affordable Care Act. This move effectively creates the crisis Republican Members of Congress are using to justify an ACA repeal. 

Should that not be enough, his Presidency is costing taxpayer's an extraordinary amount of money. Congress has allocated $120 million dollars in additional security spending to protect Trump and his family when away from the Washington DC. Half of that sum covers reimbursements to New York City and Palm Beach County, where he elects to take up residence instead of his traditional quarters in the White House. With that in mind, Impeachment and removal from office could be a cost saving move for America.

If these issues or a litany of others are a concern, join MDPAN on July 2nd in downtown Detroit, and demand that Congress kicks this administration to the curb! 

Support MDPAN - Facebook - Twitter

Added a post  to  , collusion

Many progressives have long thought what the revelations of the last week are starting to reveal: Trump is deeply compromised by Russian President Vladimir Putin and is acting at his behest. The befuddling embrace of an American leader of a Russian dictator should give any casual student of American history great pause.  Over the last week we learned much to confirm our suspicions:

  • The FBI suspected foul play after the Comey firing and opened a counter-intelligence operation to determine what the hell was going on.  Others knowledgable have suggested there had to be other classified information other than what made into the NY Times.  They reported that the justification for the investigation was Trump claiming the Comey firing rationale was in part the Russia investigation. The FBI investigation was handed over to Bob Mueller when he was appointed Special Counsel
  • Through a mistake in a filing by Manafort's lawyers, they revealed some degree of sharing of information with Russia when Manafort was Trump campaign chair. 
  • Carl Bernstein, of Watergate sleuth fame, is reporting today that Mueller's final report will say that Trump helped Putin destabilize the United States.  If this is indeed in his report, this is an astounding accusation.  If he has the evidence to back up the claim, how is anything less than a treason charge appropriate?  

Assuming there is treason charge related to Putin using Trump to undermine the American political process and potentially undermine alliances such as NATO, what is the appropriate progressive response to Putin?  Thus far, I have seen tepid response from most progressives as Putin has continued to be a bad actor in the world. 

SteinPutin

Indeed, in some progressives circles, there is even seeming support for Putin.  Jill Stein infamously ended up going to Russia sitting at the same table with Michael Flynn at the Russian news channel (RT) event.  The disgraced former general and Jill Stein dined with Vladimir Putin.  Stein says there was no direct contact with Putin which is fine, but why are you there in the first place at banquet for Russian state media? There really is no excuse for this behavior. None. Rather than hanging out with Putin or his state-sponsored media or looking the other way as he invades the Ukraine, we ought to offer our full-throated opposition to Putin, even if we sound like Cold War warrior Republicans.  

Why? Putin thinks like a 19th European power in which land and sphere of influence matter most in a never ending battle for supremacy amongst world powers.  This framing of the world is diametrically opposed to a progressive global worldview of multilateralism, respect for the sovereignty of all nations, and the human rights of their people therein.  As evidenced by the military interventions in Syria, the Crimea, or in eastern Ukraine, Putin is reasserting Russia as a bad actor in the world.  Furthermore, he is undermining democracies at their core by attacking the democratic processes of elections and the the free exchange of ideas.  He is attempt to shift the scales of democracies towards Russia through using these tactics to support right wing candidates sympathetic to Russia or those compromised by Russia.  Trump was the big get as the US is a long-time adversary.  

Progressives should accept that we have a problem globally with the Russian dictator at the helm. We should support sanctions and speak out against this threat to democratic governments the world over.  Assuming we rid ourselves of Trump by 2020, we will have a lot to fix at home, but the incoming progressive President will have to deal with Putin squarely.  That newly elected President ought to have our full support.  Ahead of a change in US foreign policy, we should be organizing support now for sanctions and other diplomatic actions that make this case to Putin and protect elections and free political discourse the world over.  

Added a post  to  , collusion

We confirmed this week, what most of us know, but some of us were afraid to say.  The President of the United States is a traitor to his country and is certainly compromised by Russia and its dictator in some significant way.  He openly colluded with Russia, ripping into our allies in NATO and the UK and then before the whole world in Helsinki saying a nary a cross word to a Russian dictator who is doing his best to draw the world back to a 19th century pre-liberal world order.  Putin manufactured a willing accomplish whether through financial entanglements, kompromat or both in Donald Trump.  The question is what are we going to do about this clear and present danger?

The Republicans in Congress largely spoke out against the President's Russia forcing the President to retract his support of Putin over his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but have yet to indicate that they will go much further in tying the hands of the President in doing more damage.  It will likely take hard evidence produced by Special Counsel Mueller for Republicans in Congress to think about doing anything against Trump.  

Of course what he deserves is much different.  Former Republican Steve Schmidt called for Congress to censure the President to demonstrate their strong disapproval.  This is the ideal tactic because it sends an unambiguous message to Trump, to Putin and to our allies, that the nation will not be moved from the liberal order of democracy and rule of law that the United States established at the end of the Second World War.  A censure would also be a building block on the way to impeachment.  When the President brings the nation further into alignment with Russia, censure won't be enough and impeachment would then have to be debated amongst the the Republicans.

Democrats could in the Senate demand a vote on a censure resolution with language that their Senate Republican colleagues have already used to decry Trump's behavior.  If there was any backbone at all they would slow business to a crawl demanding a censure vote.  Stalling tactics should already be employed in order to push the Supreme Court hearings off.  Democrats in the Senate won't do this of course because they seemingly lack the political courage to employ the one tool they have to stop business, the Senate filibuster.  Perhaps if you they don't get a censure, a compromise on legislation that imposes more painful sanctions and beefs up security of US Voting systems can be extracted.  Nothing can't be an option for Democrats and if its looks like Republicans aren't going to act, than obstruction is absolutely necessary.

Activists immediately went into full swing greeting the President at the White House on Tuesday with chants of treason and traitor.  However, I have heard some on the left almost pooh-pooh the notion of getting so caught up in a treasonous President when so many other bad things are happening in America.  I could not disagree more.  Trump has perpetrated a whole host of evil policies and ending his Presidency.  While a more expedient dismissal from office would meet the policy interests of progressives, more importantly the underlying principles are those worth fighting for.  For all the problems of the liberal world order, a much worse set of outcomes existed globally for the rest of human history.  Fighting for democracy in its various forms over a world run by Kings and Dictators is worth it.  Fighting for liberal, inclusive democracy over the growing threat of ethno-democracy with a reinvigorated racism and xenophobia, is worth fighting for.  Indeed, Obama's speech in South Africa this week was in many ways making this same case about what is at stake in the global struggle.  

Liberal democracy over the last 40 years has meant too much inequality and the Western powers still too easily go to war, but Trump is attempting upend NATO which has kept Europe at peace for the longest stretch in the history of Europe.  Trump fans the flames of racism, xenophobia and homophobia just at a time when we were making progress on issues like gay marriage and certainly younger generations have become more diverse and more tolerant of differences.  There is still much to be hopeful for, but we have to got to barrel though this time period constraining Trump.  The fate of the Republic is in doubt like at no time since the second world war.  

I am reminded that coming out of the Constitutional Convention, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?"  "A republic," replied Franklin, "if you can keep it.”  Trump colluding with a foreign adversary right before our very eyes leaves us all in doubt whether this republic will in fact be kept.  The founders warned us about these types of self-aggrandizing demagogues who only care for themselves and not the nation or their fellow citizens.  One man cannot be allowed to wreak such damage on so much that we hold dear.  The next few months will be the most consequential for the survival of the Republic in our lifetimes.

Added a post  to  , collusion

I imagine most progressives aren't going to like what I'm about to say.  The United States and the West are in a Cyber War with Russia and we have not admitted as much to ourselves.  

I say so with some caveats about what may be the nature of war in the 21st century between nuclear armed powers. Indeed, I'm hopeful that wars are limited to cyber meddling and do not wrought the mass violence that we saw in the 20th century.  The Russians have taken a number of steps in flexing their muscles far short of any direct conflict with the United States and the West.  That being said, directly attacking the core of our democracy, our elections, may end up being far more corrosive to the continued functioning of the Republic.  

I say so with an understanding that we Americans are way too willing to go to war and use or military to achieve ends which could be achieved through diplomacy.  Our misguided and morally bankrupt war of choice in Iraq stands out as perhaps the biggest of these mistakes.  Most of the military conflicts since Korea have been conflicts of choice, often without a clear victory for the nation and tremendous loss of life on both sides in places like Vietnam and Iraq.    

I say so knowing that we Americans use "war" as analogy for addressing any problem we might face when there are so much better alternatives.  The War on Poverty or the War on Drugs are really terrible frames for solving those types of issues.  However, in this instance, I do believe cyber-war is the correct language to use.

I say so even before we have full information about the nature of Russian intervention in the 2016 election.  All of our intelligence services came to the conclusion that Russia intervened on behalf of the Trump campaign.  Three Congressional investigations and Robert Mueller are determining whether and to what degree there was collusion with the Trump campaign and what financial entanglements might have made such collusion enticing for US actors. Regardless of those investigations, we must take the Russian involvement as a serious threat that can (and perhaps did) undermine our democracy.  

I say so that admitting to ourselves that we are in fact in a cyber war with Russia, would likely mean much stiffer responses to Putin and his country.  Such responses could escalate into a much broader military conflict.  However, respond we must.  The following steps should be taken:

  • Develop a cyber border wall with Russia.  Forget the physical wall with Mexico.  We have to be able to stop so much Russia based traffic from getting through.  We must secure critical infrastructure against attack.  Forger physical proximity to a nuclear power plant, could Russia cause a meltdown through a digital infiltration?  Could they shut down our grid?  Strengthening ability to stop such traffic is vital.  Similarly, limit locations in Eastern Europe, where fake news is being spread from.  
  • Gradual escalation of counter cyber attacks.  The recently elevated Cyber Command (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/18/statement-donald-j-trump-elevation-cyber-command) should press Russian and other sources of fake news with Denial of Service attacks.  We could escalate over time with increasingly sophisticated attacks against state actors or oligarchs.  Coupling with tougher economic sanctions, cyber attacks could increase internal pressure on Putin from the oligarchs to act.  
  • Verify Voting with Paper Backup.  Trump's bogus claims and commission around voter fraud obscure the very real issue that the devices we use to vote, may not be safe from tampering.  We know that voting machines were hacked in the 2016 election.  We don't know to what degree and many State Secretaries of State are looking for assistance from the federal government.  I'm a technologist, but I think we need to admit to ourselves that the surest way to verify votes is to couple electronic systems with a paper backup.

For better or worse, Hillary Clinton re-emerged this last week.  Her appearances and her book put the issue of Russian meddling and interference with our Presidential election squarely back on the table.  Indeed, today she would not take challenging the election off the table, if Russia interference was found to have significantly affected the election.  I don't know what the answer should be if Russia for example hacked voting machines in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  

But we already know that Russia intervened.  If progressives want to make sure we don't have another four years of Trump, we must cover all of our bases, including ensuring that the Russian autocrat doesn't continue his attack on the democracy.  Doing so requires an acknowledgement of the conflict in which we find ourselves with a willingness to stand up and fight back. 

   

Added a post  to  , collusion

! Trump Jr. released emails that demonstrated the campaign was excited to collude with . This is against the law. Lying liars gonna lie. #kushner #manafort #putin

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