Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

What about Russian prisoners, Mr. President?

Donald John Trump flew to Florida and made a big show of how upset he is with the way Cuban government officials treat their political prisoners.

He vowed to hold on to many of the sanctions against the communist government until it releases more political detainees. It needs to pay more attention to human rights.

OK, Mr. President. How about the Russian government and its treatment of those who dissent? What do you intend to do to ensure that Russian President/strongman Vladimir Putin — the former KGB boss — treats those who oppose his policies with fairness, humanity and grants them the liberty to protest?

Do we apply the same standard to all despotic governments, or don’t we?

Let’s end the debate over whether Russians hacked us

Here’s a thought to ponder going ahead: Let’s all just stop arguing over whether the Russians — government agents or “patriots” — hacked into the U.S. electoral system while seeking to influence the 2016 election outcome.

Let us now settle on the fundamental question: Did the Donald John Trump presidential campaign commit treason by colluding with the Russians?

Former FBI Director James Comey had much of the nation enthralled for two hours today as he testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. He confirmed what 17 intelligence agencies have determined already: The Russians sought to influence the election. Russian President Vladimir Putin — one of the more untrustworthy individuals on the planet — said that Russian “patriots” might have been responsible for the deed.

Now we get to the Main Event. The Seventh Game. The Bottom of the Ninth Inning.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been handed a huge mound of information to digest from his former colleague, Comey.

The president had said Wednesday when word of Comey’s testimony leaked out that he felt “vindicated” by what he heard. After today, I’m betting real American money the president feels a whole lot less vindicated.

No one can know with any degree of certainty whether Mueller is going to produce evidence of criminality on the part of the campaign or the president himself.

Comey’s dismissal as FBI director, as he was investigating the Trump campaign-Russia allegations, was shocking all by itself. Then came the crap storm of motives, reversals, changes in story and contradictions — from the president himself.

And in the midst of all this, Donald J. Trump — of all people — called Comey a “grandstander” and a “showboat.”


Kettle, met pot.

I do not believe a grandstanding showboat appeared today before he Senate panel. I believe the nation saw a meticulous lawyer and administrator who defended the agency he led from unfounded attacks by the president of the United States.

James Comey, moreover, has handed Robert Mueller a full arsenal of ammunition to use as he continues his arduous task of determining whether there was collusion with an foreign adversary to undermine our nation’s electoral process.

And we’re supposed to believe Putin’s word?

Vladimir Putin denies the Russian government played any role in trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.

So that’s it? That’s the final answer? The Russian president — and former head of the KGB, the super secret Soviet spy agency — has declared once and for all that his government didn’t hack into our electoral process?

Pardon my deep and abiding skepticism, but I don’t believe him.

Putin appeared on NBC News tonight. He was Megyn Kelly’s first interview since joining the network. He said something about “Russian patriots” hacking into the U.S. electoral system. What the hell does that mean?

Frankly, he is about as believable as his buddy Donald J. Trump yammering about President Barack Obama ordering wiretaps of his campaign office.

I’ll go with how former national security adviser Susan Rice characterized Putin’s “denial.”

Rice said, simply and directly: He’s lying.

Russians able to declare victory?

If you assume — as I do — that Russian spooks intended to disrupt the American political system by their hacking and disseminating “fake news,” then isn’t it fair to presume that they can declare victory?

Or, to put it another way: Mission accomplished.

I mean, think of it.

The Russians interfered in our electoral system. U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that to be a fact. All of them concur that Russia sought to disrupt our electoral process.

It’s not yet clear just how they intended to swing the election to Donald J. Trump’s favor. Trump won. He hasn’t spoken angrily about Russia. Or about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, congressional investigators are turning themselves inside out trying to find out about the “Russia thing.” The Department of Justice has appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the FBI investigation. Our attorney general has had to recuse himself from anything to do with Russia.

Congressional Democrats are talking now openly about impeaching the president. The FBI is looking at whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian government operatives.

And the president’s legislative agenda — health care overhaul, tax reform, building that damn wall — is stalled completely. None of it is likely to get advanced.

Do you get my drift? The Russians have succeeded, actually, in accomplishing what they intended when they got involved in our electoral process in the first place.

Now, let’s all wait for the president to possibly, potentially lessen those sanctions we leveled against the Russians for their aggression in Ukraine.

Is that a crazy notion? Not even …

What? A back-channel phone line with Kremlin?

I know Donald Trump’s son-in-law is entitled to an innocence presumption.

Jared Kushner has now been shoved to the front row of a growing investigation into what the Trump presidential campaign may have done in connection with the Russian government.

The latest live grenade to explode deals with a report that Kushner and the Russians sought to set up a secret line through which the Trump team could communicate with the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government in the heart of Moscow.

If it’s true — and I’ll presume that special counsel Robert Mueller will make that determination in due course — then it’s fair to ask: What would Kushner seek to keep secret from normal communications channels?

Some analysts are suggesting that this latest report might be a “game change” in the growing controversy. (I am going to refrain from calling it a “scandal” until we know a whole lot more.)

The Mueller investigation is going to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump says “no.” His buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, says “nyet.”

If this latest revelation is a game-changer, then I’m believing that Donald J. Trump’s tenure as president is about to enter some seriously tenuous territory.

Wouldn’t tax returns answer a lot of Russia questions?

I keep circling back to an issue that just won’t disappear.

Those tax returns that Donald J. Trump insists on keeping secret might answer a lot of questions about the president of the United States and his reluctance to say anything negative about Russia and its president/strongman/killer Vladimir Putin.

Trump won’t release them. He is dismissing a four-decade-old custom for presidential candidates and for presidents. They’ve all released them for public review. Except the current president.

I keep asking: How come? Trump keeps yapping about an “audit.” Two points here: The Internal Revenue Service — which doesn’t comment on specific audits — says an audit does not prevent someone from releasing those returns to the public; furthermore, Trump never has even proved that the IRS is auditing him.

He demanded repeatedly that Barack Obama produce a birth certificate to prove his constitutional eligibility to serve as president. How about Trump provide a letter from the IRS that declares that he’s being audited?

Amid all this is the swirl of Russia and whether the president has business dealings with Russian oligarchs and government officials. The president says he has none. He expects us to believe him. Sure thing, Mr. President. He also expected us to believe that Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign offices, that millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton and that thousands of Muslims cheered the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Tax returns would reveal whether the president has any business dealings in Russia. If he has been telling us the truth about that matter, then the returns would validate his assertion. Wouldn’t they? If he’s not being truthful, well, the returns would reveal that, too. Am I correct on that?

I am left only to conclude that the tax returns the president refuses to release to the public contain something he doesn’t want us to see. Do they involve Russia, Mr. President? Do they reveal why you won’t speak ill of your pal Vlad Putin?

President continues his insult tirade

One of the many promises Donald J. Trump made when he became president was that he would “act like a president.” He would talk like one, too.

He was elected to the highest office in America after burying his Republican primary foes in a mudslide of insults. Then he turned his insult machine loose on Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Low Energy Jeb Bush, Little Marco Rubio all ran against Trump in the GOP primary. Trump also told an interviewer that Sen. John McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Then he turned his guns loose on Crooked Hillary Clinton. He urged on campaign rally crowds to yell “Lock her up!”

His core of supporters didn’t mind. Trump merely was “telling it like it is,” they said. He’s not a politician, they insisted. He talks like the rest of us, they added.

Has he stopped hurling insults now that he’s president?

Nope. Not a chance. Now we hear — from the “fake news” mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times — that he fired FBI Director James Comey because he’s a “nut job,” that he’s “crazy.”

Ah, yes. That’s how the president refers to the nation’s top federal cop, America’s top law enforcement officer. A nut job. He’s crazy.

Who heard the president offer this bit of presidential dignity? The Russian foreign minister and Russia’s ambassador to the United States. They were invited into the Oval Office on a suggestion from Russian President/dictator/killer Vladimir  Putin, who asked Trump to have these fellows stop by for a visit.

Oh, and then there’s this: Trump banned American journalists from the meeting. The Russian news agency, Tass, was present. Tass photographers took pictures of the meeting.

If you’ll forgive me for borrowing a term that Trump himself used in one of his endless string of tweets: This man’s behavior is so “unpresidented.”

‘Greatest threat … on Earth’

FBI Director James Comey had a big day earlier this week fielding questions from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bulk of the attention regarding his testimony dealt with the 2016 presidential election and how he justified blowing the whistle on Hillary Clinton’s e-mail matter while staying quiet about an FBI probe into Donald J. Trump’s alleged connection with the Russian government.

Buried in all that testimony came his answer to a question about whether Russia poses a threat to the United States.

Comey’s answer? He called Russia “the greatest threat of any nation on Earth.”

I heard the FBI director’s response and wondered immediately: Why cannot the president of the United States treat Russia as the “greatest threat of any nation on Earth”? Why doesn’t the president condemn the Russians for seeking to influence the outcome of the 2016 election? Why couldn’t he acknowledge flat out on national TV that Vladimir Putin is a “killer”?

Comey’s assessment of Russia’s threat to this nation harkens back to a Cold War-era fear of the Big Bear, the Evil Empire. Putin’s rule of Russia only heightens that reminder.

If only the president of the United States would speak as strongly against Russia and its subversion of our electoral process as the FBI director as just done.

His relative silence on Putin and the nation he governs seems to speak eloquently about something no one in this country should want to hear.

NATO never has been ‘obsolete,’ Mr. President

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization once was “obsolete.”

Now it’s relevant.

That’s the former and current view of the president of the United States. What changed? What did NATO do to regain its status as a dependable and valuable defense treaty?

Donald John Trump met today with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The two men had a cordial and constructive meeting at the White House.

So here we are. The president who campaigned for office in 2016 while griping repeatedly about NATO’s obsolescence now says the organization is a partner in the fight against terrorism.

Will we learn from the president what changed his mind on this matter? Hardly. My guess is that even he doesn’t know, except that the secretary general told him that NATO matters.

Well, it does. It matters a lot.

The NATO alliance sits just west of its big and fearsome neighbor. I refer to Russia, which is governed by Vladimir Putin who — until just recently — seemed to be bound at the hip to Donald Trump. The bromance is fading quickly as the Trump administration starts turning the screws on Russia over its complicity in the Syrian civil war; oh, and Congress is starting to fire up the jets under Putin over his government’s role in seeking to “rig” the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

NATO matters

Yes, NATO came into being after World War II to deter potential aggression by the former Soviet Union. But in 1991, the Evil Empire disappeared, only to be replaced by another sinister governmental being. Russia has shown its aggressive self already, threatening Ukraine, retaking Crimea and blustering about re-conquering the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

NATO now comprises 28 nations. Its relevance is quite vital to the stability of Europe, which remains crucial to the national security interests of the United States of America.

If only we could get the president to stop yammering about how NATO must pay its “fair share” or else. It’s the “or else” that some of us find most troubling.

My curiosity persists, though. What did NATO do to regain its status as a partner in the struggle to maintain international equilibrium?

Trump-Putin ‘bromance’ on the rocks

It took a good while — too long, in fact — but it appears the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin bromance might be on the verge of ending.

The White House has issued a stern statement accusing Russia of covering up the Syrian chemical weapons attack that killed several dozen civilians, including children. The gassing of Syrian civilians prompted the U.S. air strike that wiped out several Russian-made Syrian jet fighters at the base from where the gas attack was launched.

White House talks tough to Russia — finally

The strongly worded statement demands international condemnation of Syria for using the chemical weapons and accuses Russia of “shielding” its Syrian allies.

As the New York Times reported: “It marks a striking shift by President Trump, who entered office praising President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and seeking common ground with him — and now appears to be moving swiftly to isolate him. The charges came as Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, was preparing for meetings in Moscow on Wednesday, and as Congress and the F.B.I. are investigating potential ties between Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.”

Has the president finally gotten the message that Vladimir Putin is no friend of the United States and shouldn’t be a friend of the man who now governs this country?

As for the investigation that’s under way regarding the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, let it continue full throttle.

The here and now, though, presents a whole new and different set of challenges that must require an end to the strange buddy relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.