I am of an age where can recall drills in elementary school in particular where students participated in safety drills to prepare for the possibility of a nuclear attack on America and how the basement level of the high school building was a fallout shelter. The foe that would such an attack, of course was Russia. Later, I would learn more about Russia and Russian history - an interest sparked in part by having Anna Anderson, perhaps the leading claimant to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, as a neighbor for two years while in college in Charlottesville (I still do not fully believe supposed DNA proof that she was a fake given the British royal family's history of screwing over Russian relatives). For the last 99 years, Russia has been ruled by murderous despots. That trend continues under Vladimir Putin. And sadly, Russia remains a principal foe of America as has been the case since the fall of the Romanov dynasty other than during the interlude of World War II when the common foe of Hitler and Nazi Germany caused a temporary alliance.
Now, Russia seems to want a perhaps unholy alliance with America through the vehicle of Donald Trump, a man who likely would like to emulate Putin's dictatorial rule in this country (in Trump's world, I suspect the rest of us exist merely to increase his own perceived magnificence), More frighteningly, for the first time in my memory Russia intelligence and spy services seem poised to try to influence an American presidential election to insure that Trump is elected. The irony, of course is that Trump supporters view themselves as "real Americans" even as they support a man who likely would sell out American interest to a foreign enemy. A piece at Yahoo News looks at how one of Trump's advisors is under investigation for Russian ties. Here are highlights:
U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”
A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. “It’s on our radar screen,” said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. “It’s being looked at.”
Trump first mentioned Page’s name when asked to identify his “foreign policy team” during an interview with the Washington Post editorial team last March. Describing him then only as a “PhD,” Trump named Page as among five advisers “that we are dealing with.” But his precise role in the campaign remains unclear; Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks last month called him an “informal foreign adviser” who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.”
The questions about Page come amid mounting concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and state election databases in Arizona and Illinois. In a rare public talk this week, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence Mike Vickers said that the Russian cyberattacks constituted meddling in the U.S. election and were “beyond the pale.”
Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.
Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”
U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.”
Trump and Putin must think Americans are fools and idiots. In the case of Trump's supporters, they are sadly correct in that view. The "real Americans" are being duped into supporting a man ready to sell out American interests to inflate his own ego and perhaps enrich himself as Putin has done. Be afraid.