People have noticed that our president has criticized the leader of every major country on our planet. With one exception: Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Our president never utters an ill word about the godfather mob-boss of Russia. Why? What is it about Putin that our president finds so attractive? I’m going to lay it out.
First, from Putin’s perspective, Trump could not have been a more perfect leader of the USA. He was sowing the seeds of division between the conservative/liberal components of our democracy, weakening the “united” aspect of our country. Also, his new nationalism meant retreat from world influence, giving Russia (and China) new space in that domain. But there was a more personal and immediate attraction.
In December 2012 President Obama signed into law the Magnitsky Act, a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate. The Magnitsky Act was intended to punish certain Russian oligarchs (Putin’s cronies) responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. The Act banned those officials from the US and from using the US banking system. Putin retaliated to the Magnitsky Act by ejecting certain US officials and declaring that Americans could no longer adopt Russian children.
Because those oligarchs are part of the mob-boss’ power base, it is important for Putin to keep them happy. Ergo, repeal of the Magnitsky Act is item one on Putin’s must-do list.
Putin knew that if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election she would continue the policies of Barack Obama regarding Russia. Therefore, his only chance for repeal of Magnitsky was via Trump. Putin also knew that Trump was keen on building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal proposed by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to Trump Jr, Kushner, and Manafort in the famous Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, “about adoptions,” said the three, was a half-truth. Her proposal was really “we will help Trump win if he promises to help repeal the Magnitsky Act”.
The June 2016 meeting had been arranged by Rob Goldstone, who said via several emails with Trump Jr that Russia had “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr responded “… if it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer” (meaning right before the election).
Nothing came of that “short and unproductive meeting,” said Trump Jr, but then we see WikiLeaks (later found to be working for the Kremlin) releasing embarrassing emails hacked from Hillary and the DNC a month later, with the final batch landing only two weeks before the election. Though he lost the popular vote by almost three million votes, Trump won the electoral college due to narrow victories in three key winner-take-all states, the margin quite possibly supplied by Russian help both with the hacked emails and social media trolling.
Now, why does Trump call this “Russia thing” a hoax?
Easy. If Russia helped him win it would mean he didn’t win fairly; he could never admit that to himself or the public because it would tarnish his gigantic ego and carefully constructed strong-man persona.
Why does he never criticize Vladimir Putin?
Though he ran for president more for promotion of the Trump brand than actually winning, he found that being president was as near to kingship as anything he could have imagined. Drunk with power and the constant center of attention, he thought let’s extend this through a second term. Since Putin helped him once, he figures Putin will help him again. That is why he refutes the Mueller Report and refuses to acknowledge the vulnerability of our election system in 2020. He welcomes Putin’s interference on his behalf!
Unknown to Trump, Putin’s agenda includes weakening our democracy, in part by dividing us against ourselves, a Trump policy that ex-KGB operative Putin is only too happy to reinforce. Putin has to be belly-laughing at how easy it is to manipulate such a willing dupe.
Putin therefore has a big hammer hanging over the head of our president. He could undercut Trump’s legitimacy if he admitted he helped Trump win. Further, there is almost certainly more to the Trump-Putin connection we don’t know about, and it probably has to do with money. Trump’s tax returns would probably be enlightening, but they must be kept from public view. That is one of the reasons why Trump surrounds himself with yes-men, and appointed William Barr to be the Attorney General of the United States – he found an AG willing to do his bidding.
Now if I may be permitted to go off-subject I would like to talk about “fake news” and our free press, which our president calls “the enemy of the people.”
No, the free press is most certainly not the enemy of the people. It might be the best, most reliable means of getting to the truth of events that that have happened or are happening everywhere. The American free press collectively is among the finest investigative bodies in the world. Sure, every media outlet and journalist is biased to some degree (as all humans are), but history shows that journalists are extremely good at getting to the facts. I offer as proof the results of the Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Monica Lewinski investigations. The free press sniffed out the particulars of these scandals because journalists were not restricted by congressional rules or demands by superiors to cover up the facts.
The free press is the enemy of dictators, not democratic societies. It is only dictators and other autocrats who control and censor the news their people see. Thank goodness we live in a country where freedom of speech is guaranteed by our Constitution. If I lived in Russia, North Korea, or China I would have to publish this piece on my own, and probably be jailed (or worse) if found out.
The press is our friend, not our enemy. Whistle-blowers are our friends. Don’t believe Trump’s propaganda to the contrary. In the end the truth will be known.
By Bob Moores
Bob Moores resides in Chestertown, Maryland.