Memories Are Meant to be Shared by Craig Fuller


Those of us who have this periodic opportunity to share something of ourselves with readers of the Spy in our commentaries reveal, when we are at our best, insights about what moves us, concerns us and commands our focus.

Karen and Craig Fuller

Because of a moving message from a former colleague who read my last piece about the AOPA 80th anniversary in Frederick, Maryland, I worked for a couple weeks organizing my thoughts around memories. I’ve focused a fair amount on memories over the past few months and so that was to be the topic of my column.

Then things changed. During the past few days my sole focus has been on memories of Karen and our 38 year journey together. For, as the first of July arrived, so, too, did Karen’s final days.After seeing two close friends last Friday, Karen has been at home here on Trippe Creek in a peaceful and comfortable sleep.

Over preceding months, our friends have shared memories and photographs from the past and I marveled at how these memories energized and cheered Karen and me!

The path we have been on that began with mild cognitive impairment a few years ago, moved to dementia and about 2 months ago the process accelerated. While Karen could not be as active as she had been, the pleasure from conversations by phone and in person or from emails I’d read her helped keep her going and keep her smiling.

Karen has just about come to the end of the path she’s on. However, among the many lasting lessons she provided to me over our 38 years together is that memories are meant for sharing.

Let someone know what you remember most about a pleasant adventure. You will feel better. And, I guarantee your friend will feel better.

Given the complications and details consuming my time, my column was cut short. However, my path going forward will most certainly include regular commentary in the Spy.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Power of Community by Craig Fuller


Living in Easton, there are constant reminders of the value a community provides. The value flows from the people, the relationships, the culture and the shared experiences. It also flows from a unique geography associated with one of the largest inland bodies of water in the world.

Recently, a weekend event reminded me that the power and elements of a strong community need not be geographic; or, perhaps, I should say they can be multi-geographic.

The event occurred in Frederick, Maryland where the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) hosted their 80th anniversary celebration. The events over the weekend marked the formation of an association that developed into a full-fledged community we know as general aviation. It happened with the approaching world war when a small group of young and adventuresome aviators feared their beloved flying activities might be curtailed if America entered the war. The year was 1939 and the place was what is now Wings Field outside of Philadelphia.

These aviators decided to form AOPA in order to protect the freedom to fly and to encourage safe aviation. The organization grew over the years and evolved, but always remained true to the purpose the founders gave it. Today, it reins strong as the protector of airmen and aviation enthusiasts, running safety and educational programs right along with a formidable advocacy effort in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states.

It was an honor to be invited by the current AOPA President, Mark Baker, to join my friend and predecessor, Phil Boyer, for a gathering of the three living individuals who share the privilege of representing hundreds of thousands of pilots as presidents of AOPA. We spent a good deal of time together and were captured signing the beautiful AOPA 80th Anniversary books for members.

AOPA President, Mark Baker, Phil Boyer, and author Craig Fuller

As I stood near the flight line, I marveled at the foresight of the founders and appreciated the hundreds of people who have worked tirelessly at AOPA to make a vision into a reality. Aviators had come from all over the country to be present for the celebration. Pilots were demonstrating short field landing skills in a competition with two-seat backcountry aircraft (some of the most fun flying I’ve done was in one of them…the Husky); while at the same time, restored World War II aircraft were used to launch paratroopers dressed and using parachutes just like they would have in the war.

Aircraft of all kinds were on the field drawing a record crowd even on days with marginal weather. They came to witness the event. They came to enjoy the company of fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts. They came to show their support for general aviation. They came, in every sense of the word, because they wanted to show they are part of a community.

Often, success in the world of associations is judged by numbers. However, while numbers matter, the impressive nature of the general aviation community built by AOPA and the other general aviation associations is the strong bond that is shared by so many. That bond results in engagement when threats appear on the horizon. The bond is why safety information is shared rapidly throughout the aviation community. Not only do pilots want to know everything there is to know that can enhance the safety of flight, they are anxious to share it with others.

Having flown airplanes for fifty years purely because I chose to do so, I was never prouder or more moved by the community that has become general aviation. It was as exciting to see a 100-year-old World War II veteran stand to speak of his love for aviation as it was to see the excitement on the faces of children as they watched the World War II era aircraft lift off the ground.

As long as the bond that brings aviators and aviation enthusiasts together remains strong, the community will remain strong and the unique freedom to fly we enjoy in the United States will provide new opportunities for people of all ages to, as an American pilot in World War II, John Magee, Jr, said, “…slip the surly bonds of earth.”

Perhaps on this 80th Anniversary, we could celebrate with John Magee, Jr.’s full poem and reflect on the remarkable experience of flight….

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Happy birthday, AOPA! Well done!

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.


Can You Hear Me Now? By Craig Fuller


Can You Hear Me Now?

Clever cell phone ad phrase, but an increasingly important question related to civil discourse in today’s highly charged environment where toxic messages fly with abandon. If the question is a good one to explore, it does not take long to find that the answers about being heard are more complex than one might think.

Thinking about understanding one another and communication has been going on for a very long time, of course. Smart people have various takes on what matters, but if there is one theme running through communications commentary by wise people it’s that we don’t really do too well today on the clarity of communication scale.

And, if we start at the heart of communication, understanding a reality we want to share, one might conclude things breakdown pretty fast.

A well-regarded communications expert, Paul Watzlawick, offers this challenging assessment: “Our everyday, traditional ideas of reality are delusions which we spend substantial parts of our daily lives shoring up, even at the considerable risk of trying to force facts to fit our definition of reality instead of vice versa. And the most dangerous delusion of all is that there is only one reality.”

By the way, Watzlawick published some of the most influential publications in communication/interactional theory during his lifetime during which he authored more than 150 scientific papers and 22 books that are translated in 80 languages.

I confess the Watzlawick theory about multiple realities throws me off my long-held notion that we can all form our own point of view, but we can’t make up our own facts. Indeed, selective fact selection does contribute to much of today’s misunderstandings, especially when the communications comes in the 140-word bursts of Twitter.

At the moment of actual communication, executive coach Ed Batista offers an important observation. Says this expert, the “failure to distinguish between intent and impact” is frequently the cause communications misfires. The individual seeking to share a thought misses the fact that their intent and impact are two different things.

This reminded me of a former colleague who was thought by her staff to often be angry. It was true, she had a short fuse. But, knowing she thought well of her staff, I asked why they thought she was angry with them most of the time. It turned out that she had formed a habit of sending her emails in all caps to get people’s attention…that was her intent. The impact was that people likened the all-cap technique as screaming at them and concluded she was mad.

This brings us to the corollary of Batista’s argument that the individual receiving a message also joins together in their mind intent and impact. The impact of the all caps email made recipients feel the boss was mad; therefore, the boss was in fact mad at them!

Of course, email, Twitter, Facebook, in fact all electronic communications makes all of this much more difficult. Face to face communication gives you so much more information before someone even speaks. You get to sense whether the person in front of you is happy, angry, sad, relaxed, tense and so many other readings one gets from face to face interaction.

Knowing people in organizations who fire off messages to colleagues who might be right down the hall, I always found that a short walk and face to face conversation brought about a far better result than a hostile email chain.

There is plenty of reason to fear today’s shorthand communication. As mentioned, there is the shortcoming of eliminating the understanding that comes from face to face dialogue. Then, there is the tendency to use Twitter or just short communications bursts to communicate complex thoughts assuming a recipient is going to possess the ability to decipher the intent of the message. It is fair to say that things go off the rails faster and faster using shorthand techniques.

One reason for a deteriorating situation is offered by London author/journalist James Bartholomew who introduced the concept of “virtue signaling” a few years ago. It’s his theory that increasingly people are working to create a favorable view of themselves to a select audience through the expression of indignation. The concept is that expressions of anger and outrage replace the real intent which is boasting about one’s devotion to a particular point of view. And, in many ways, Twitter proves a perfect vehicle, perhaps even encourages virtue signaling, by offering the availability of only so many words to make a point.

One example the author uses is that an individual with strongly held environmental views including a deep commitment to conservation and preservation might select a statement that plays to these interests like, “I hate 4X4 off-road vehicles.” This comes with no research or even an argument on the merits, just one strong negative statement.

Bartholomew makes an additional point about how many people not only fail to offer a thoughtful case for their position, they also find they can take a pass on actually doing something virtuous. Here is his comment:

No one actually has to do anything. Virtue comes from mere words or even from silently held beliefs. There was a time in the distant past when people thought you could only be virtuous by doing things: by helping the blind man across the road; looking after your elderly parents. These things involve effort and self-sacrifice. That sounds hard! Much more convenient to achieve virtue by expressing hatred of those who think the health service could be improved by introducing competition. (Emphasis mine.)

Maybe the shorter version of this is found in the phrase, “deeds speak louder than words.”

The take away from all of this, for me, is that clear and thoughtful communication is difficult. It is difficult when two thoughtful people sit and talk through an issue making it almost impossible when challenges fly via tweet or in Facebook.

Seems like, with challenges growing, we all might brush-up on our communication skills and increase contact with those with whom we want to share ideas as well as voice concerns.

I sure hope that intent and impact came together in this short discourse!

For more information:

Batista, Bartholomew and Watzlawick

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Euphoria for Some that Cannot Last by Craig Fuller


After 48-plus hours of commentary about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the Attorney General, I am wondering just how much more one can take. Throughout the epic coverage, I came to feel like I was witnessing an individual, speaking strictly metaphorically, who suffers from serious heart disease that wants us to celebrate the news that he’s been declared cancer-free. I would never wish to deny a moment of celebration, but it is hard to see how the future turns out well.

Indeed, I suspect that from a political standpoint, this may be the best week President Trump has with regard to the Russia investigations. And, I doubt the news swirling around the Mueller Report will change anyone’s mind, just yet. Supporters feel vindicated. Opponents look to New York’s Southern District of the Justice Department and to the investigative committees in Congress. Both are ambitious investigative bodies who can deliver withering blows.

I, for one, never really believed there was a great case for actual collusion with Russia. There is a strong case for serial naivete. I believe Trump’s world view propelled him to think about and speak of changing the relationship between the US and Russia while he was a candidate. That is something his first national security advisor advocated. Where they were so naive was in believing that President Putin seeks anything other than opportunities to diminish America to the benefit of Russia. They were also painfully naive in ignoring the intelligence community’s judgements about Putin’s actions when there was no interagency debate. What Russia did during our 2016 election was not new. It was much bolder. Their motivations needed to be factored into the new Administration’s ambitions, not derided.

While many seasoned and serious people would have taken exception to an effort to quickly find a better place for the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the United States to stand, if this was what the President-Elect had in mind, he should have just said so. Instead, whatever team Trump was up to, they seemed inexplicably committed to hiding their intentions, which is why people are now so determined to figure them out.

Many of the naive or devious have paid a high price in this process, and the investigations are going to continue at a fast and furious pace. And, here’s the thing that people in high places seem to have to relearn the hard way: the actual actions taken or decisions made may well be within the law, but failure to tell the truth to Federal investigators and the Congress is a felony and triggers prosecution.

Can’t say as any of this is something to look forward to. People who chose not to tell the truth set us on this path a couple years ago and will ultimately keep us on this path. We can only hope that our economy continues to expand, opening new opportunities for employment. We should also hope that in the Presidential primaries that begin about 10 months from now there will be more focus on the substantive issues we need to concern ourselves with than the literal trials and tribulations of a few.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Ignominy by Craig Fuller


Time was when individuals seeking leadership positions carefully considered how events in their past might impact their quest for public office.

To witness the circumstances in Virginia where individuals are coping with differing but troubling past behaviors, caused me to wonder who is to judge anymore? In the era of Trump, just what is unacceptable? And, what standards now exist to determine what we will accept or reject when it comes to a person’s past?

My first instinct was to ponder what in the world those who ran for public office were thinking. Did they just assume some elements of their past would not surface? Or, did they think that it no long matters what surfaces?

It used to be that if there was something untoward in one’s past, the election process would surface the issues. Candidates even retained investigators to determine if there might be anything in their own past that would cause concern. Always thought this was smart since while something might not be disqualifying, being surprised and reacting poorly could damage a campaign….or, as it turns out, a sitting governor.

I wondered where the challengers were with their opposition research and where the media was with their laser like focus on the misdeeds of those seeking election to public office. How could three statewide candidates be elected only to be subject to virtually simultaneous calls for resignation?

No matter where one stands on any one elected leader, no one should want to be surprised by questionable deeds from the past. Candidates should be more transparent…as in providing tax returns. The media should probe carefully but aggressively; because, here’s the thing, the decision now about what is acceptable and unacceptable is now up to the individual voter. That voter must make a determination with the facts and that determination is far better made before the election than after with nothing other than public humiliation or the next election to correct a wrong call.

While I, for one, no longer can tell just what normative behavior is, ignominy – public shame, humiliation and embarrassment – after someone is elected serves no one well. We need to demand openness and transparency. While it is unlikely we will find the individual without an embarrassment in their past, knowing about it and judging how an individual learned from it must be part of the calculation going into selecting our leaders.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

The Quest for Authenticity by Craig Fuller


Authenticity was one of George H.W. Bush’s most endearing qualities. I witnessed it daily and admired how someone so competitive and so much in the public view remained determine to be himself.

As individuals announce their intention to seek the presidency, something we should search for is their authenticity. Frankly, I find myself drawn to those who seem authentic and worry less about specific policy pronouncements at this point in time.

So, just what is it?

Carl Jung offered this insight: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

And, Psychology Today magazine suggests:

….authentic people possess a number of common characteristics that show they are psychologically mature and fully functioning as human beings.

Have realistic perceptions of reality.
Are accepting of themselves and of other people.
Are thoughtful.
Have a non-hostile sense of humor.
Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
Are open to learning from their mistakes.
Understand their motivations.

A very good list!

As I watched California Senator Kamala Harris announce her campaign for the presidency, the focus seemed to be on the size of the crowd. But, I looked ever more closely. She seemed joyous. She seemed to have searched and found who she is and decided she wants to lead the nation for a series of good reasons.

In one rating of experts viewed over the weekend, Senator Harris placed first in the strongest of the newly announced candidates. I think her authenticity, even more than her just beginning to be crafted policies, that gave her a boost. [View recent interview here.]

Then there is the new and youngest Member of Congress from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at age 29 is attracting considerable political and media attention. Again, her authenticity seems to be at the heart of what excites people. She may rile Democrats and Republican with her passion to upset the system, but no one can doubt her commitment to improving the future in ways in which she believes deeply. [View recent interview]

So, some might ask, what about the Republican party? Is the authenticity exhibited by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush something of the past in the GOP? Well, I certainly hope not!

In former Congressman and former Governor, John Kasich, we have an undaunted warrior who seeks to spread his message, one that seems both deeply thought out and believed in. If his authenticity seems to ignite less fervor, perhaps that is due to the fact he has been so public for so long. [View recent interview]

As voters begin to focus (and Iowa Caucuses are only one year away), I believe the search for authenticity grows in importance as candidates are evaluated. Interestingly, over the weekend Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) shared in an interview that he was going to be himself in a quest for the presidency and if half of the voters didn’t like that, then he wouldn’t be President.

Let’s hope the others who run will seek to really share who they are…and, even more importantly, let’s hope they know!

Source: Psychology Today

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.


Up River by Craig Fuller


Ever wonder what boating enthusiasts do when there is snow on the ground? Well, we plan future cruises. And, while getting “there” is always at least half the fun, another goodly percentage goes to the time spent planning.

With this in mind, I recently found myself among some seasoned cruisers who gathered in the middle of winter to discuss where it might be fun cruise this coming boating season. We talked of boats and cruises past and some new, or newly redone, places we want to visit.

Chestertown Marina

Emerging from the intense review of options, I decided that the Ranger Tug and I needed to head up the Chester River to historic Chestertown this year and visit what I knew to be a 300-year-old working port. My focus was such that I decided a drive north to see the new Chestertown Marina would be a strong element in my own cruise planning process.

While I knew the Town was refurbishing the marina, what I discovered was a virtually new and beautiful facility. The transformation since my last visit over a year ago was beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, any good plan requires some knowledge of the backstory. And, who better to learn from than the mayor of Chestertown, his honor, Chris Cerino, who responded to an email by saying, “just give me a call anytime!”

While the commitment to rebuild the marina was launched before Mayor Cerino took office, this is one elected official who made a promise to see the marina totally redone and it is clearly a promise kept! Having taken office in 2014, he shared with me that “there is not a single square-yard we left untouched.” And, to think that back in 2011 people actually planned to sell the marina to build condos!

It took a good deal of financial finesse along the way. No single grant could fund the project, but a series of grants were applied for that made the initial work possible. Then, to the credit of the community, private donors stepped up to raise money needed to complete the project thanks to their funds and matching monies. By the way, a little help is still needed. [Link: ]

One look at the new marina tells anyone that the good people have Chestertown have given all who enjoy cruising a fine new destination. And, as the mayor happily points out, “a beautiful historic town is a short walk away for all who visit.” There is no doubt that the mayor, along with the local shops and restaurants, welcome visitors.

Surely a number of slips will be leased for the season, but groups of up to 15 or 20 boats should be able to be accommodated, at least this year. And, there is a commitment to work with any captain who wants to spend some time in Chestertown.

So, a bit of snow on the ground will not prevent those who enjoy boating from getting excited about that next cruise….even if it is still several weeks away.

For more information on the Chestertown Marina please go here

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

The Johnson Card by Craig Fuller


A Facebook friend and supporter of President Trump ask me for a comment on a review of President Trump’s accomplishments. The request really got me thinking about the path the country is on with this President and now a divided Congress.

The sense I have and cannot shake is that this really is not likely to end well.

Then, I thought about what might change the path we’re on in a way that works out well for almost everyone.

There is really just one option: President Trump needs to repeat the phrase uttered by a wartime President when Lyndon Johnson said, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

The Johnson Card would be a game changer!

President Trump is kind of a wartime President. There are conflicts around the world to be sure. However, the real war seems to be the one he is waging on Washington with fact-free commentary and virtually no empathy for those impacted by policies formed around the principle of what’s right is what will make President Trump look good.

Proceeding down this path with a certain challenge within his own party, a possible challenge by an independent and then an onslaught of critics from the Democrats, both in Congress and on the campaign trail is fraught with peril for the President. While his base may stay behind him, there is little reason to believe that the base can grow. And, with the wild policy swings bringing volatility to the stock market, not even a strong economy can offset concerns about longer term consequences.

Of course, there is always the wildcard of the Mueller investigation which may or may not change everything.

Here’s the thing, the single best option for the President is to play the Johnson Card. Electing not to seek reelection takes all the energy out of the opposition. It actually opens opportunities for a President, unburdened by any past record or firm philosophy, to work out compromises that will pass the House and the Senate. He actually could get a few things done!

Even though the President’s view is that he has accomplished more than any President in history, his base will be disappointed; but, the secret to the kind of success President Trump seeks is to leave them wanting more. And, he can give it to them! He can have the biggest paid speaking events. He can draw the greatest crowds. He can be the most beloved figure to millions.

What’s not to like?

He won’t have to endure the scrutiny of voters who delivered a remarkable number of Democrats to Congress. He won’t have to joust with the pollsters who want to study every move he makes. And, the media will inevitably and happily move on to the news around who comes next.

Plus, he can get started on raising money for the greatest Presidential Library any President has ever known…I mean, why wait for this kind of stuff.

Best of all, he can get that Tower built while he can still enjoy it in Moscow.

Yes, the Johnson Card is the single best move President Trump can make. It’s one that friend and foe alike would ultimately embrace.

If it makes so much sense, why do I worry it will never happen?

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Calling Anyone in the Trump Investigation a Rat is Unfair to Rodents


Lest we forget the right and appropriate role of military officers, lawyers, senior government officials and others caught up in the various investigations swirling around President Trump, his campaign and then his transition into the presidency, we should remember that honesty and integrity must be and, up until now, have been at the heart of actions by people in high office and those who advise them.

This is not a partisan perspective; this is an observation of individuals who were elected as president and those who supported them over past decades. And, I am certain that my shock about the behaviors that many around Trump engaged in is not unique. While those who serve in the White House have differing philosophies and political views, there are shared values across both parties and several administrations. Each day it becomes increasingly clear that the Trump organization operated in a value- and integrity-free zone.

Understanding what happened is critical to bring an end to such aberrant behavior. Those who seek to govern, prepare to govern and hold public office must operate openly and honestly, and an unwillingness or some genetic inability to do so should sound alarms to the electorate in the future, making such lapses disqualifying in an election.

This brings us to how we should view those who are culpable.

While generally compassionate and understanding, I think those who engaged in a pattern of questionable and possibly illegal behavior and then lied about it publicly (and eventually to federal investigators) deserve the proverbial “perp walk.” Not only are they deserving of the spectacle, the treatment is necessary as a deterrent to others.

It is high time for lawyers to say, “We no longer can represent you.” Or, for aides to say, “We no longer can assist you along a path with which we fundamentally disagree.” And, it is time to understand that whatever fallout these principled actions might cause, it is far less consequential than potentially committing federal crimes.

Of course, all this assumes that the people wrapped up in all of this were operating out of some kind of motivation based on their personal view, however perverse, of public service. However, the increasing problem of sustaining such an assumption is that it does not offer a rationale for conduct by those indicted by and cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Even if the notion of an initiative to improve relations with Russia is the basis for questionable behavior, why try to cover it up with serial misrepresentation? That’s something that was at the heart of what Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn reportedly conveyed to the Russian ambassador when he suggested not responding to the sanctions applied by a sitting U.S. president. Though naïve, there would have been nothing illegal about early outreach to Russia once Trump and his team were in office. Then, their approach and foreign policy initiatives could be supported or opposed on their merits.

If there is a “rat” in the middle of all this, it may well rest with the simultaneous commercial and campaign activities engaged in by senior advisers. Dialogue about hotels, towers and other commercial ventures with Russian representatives is a growing dark cloud. And to the extent people around candidate Trump had their eyes on a very different ball than the election, a rationale for obfuscation after the election begins to crystalize. If the campaign for the highest office in the land was even partially a commercial venture, the motive of the candidate would and should be called into question.

Smart, experienced people have engaged in inexplicable behavior, considering their years of experience. Something caused them to do this — and that something, when we discover it, might better fit the characteristics of a rat.

Craig Fuller served President Ronald Reagan from 1981-85 as assistant to the president and head of the Office of Cabinet Affairs, and then became chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush from 1985-89. He co-chaired President-elect Bush’s transition office and chaired the Republican National Convention in 1992. He then led two major associations and was a consultant in Washington. He now runs his own firm, The Fuller Company.


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