Sunday, May 21, 2017

Is the Comey Firing Trump’s Open Admission of Collusion with Russia?

A piece in Salon asks a timely question: was Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey an admission that he and/or his campaign colluded with Russia to throw the 2016 presidential election to him.  The piece makes the case that, yes, the Comey firing was an admission of guilt.  The issue then becomes whether or not Americans will demand that investigations continue until the truth is uncovered.  Thankfully, the appointment of a special prosecutor is a step in the right direction although Trump may yet try to sabotage that investigation.  What I find most disturbing is that many Trump voters remain loyal to him - just as early Hitler supporters remained true to Hitler even as he led Germany down the path to horrors and horrific misfortunes for many, including those who rallied to his hate based agenda.  Here are article highlights:
Has the other shoe finally dropped? Is this the beginning of Donald Trump’s attempted coup? I have previously argued, it is fair to call him a fascist. He has repeatedly demonstrated this fact through his words and deeds both during the 2016 presidential election and now while serving as president.
Like the leader of a banana republic or a Mafia boss, Trump has surrounded himself with a small group of advisers and confidantes comprised mainly of his family members. He has contempt for journalists and the concept of a free press. He leads a cult of personality, marketing himself as an autocratic who will protect and defend his “forgotten Americans” against all threats foreign and domestic. Trump has no respect for the standing norms of American democracy. He and his supporters evidently believe that the rule of law does not apply to him. Authoritarians are paranoid by definition. To that end, they ruthlessly consolidate power and eliminate any threats to their power.
In keeping with this script, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey . . . . . Comey’s firing was also endorsed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man who has no credibility after having been caught repeatedly lying about his own contacts with representatives of the Russian government.
Comey’s dismissal comes one day after Trump appeared to threaten former acting Attorney General Sally Yates before she gave testimony to the Senate about Vladimir Putin’s efforts to subvert American democracy and the dangers posed by likely Russian operative and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s dismissal of Comey came on the same day it was announced that a federal grand jury is investigating Flynn and his associates regarding their financial connections to Russian interests.
The president’s decision to fire Comey is an enormous abuse of presidential authority. To all appearances, Trump is removing a threat posed by the person who is leading the investigation of his administration’s (and his campaign’s) possibly treasonous connections with Russia.
I spoke with historian Timothy Snyder about what Trump’s election means for America. (He is the author of the new book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.”) During that conversation, Snyder warned that the American people have less than a year to resist the creeping tide of authoritarianism embodied by Donald Trump’s regime.
Snyder also predicted: Donald Trump will stage his own version of Adolf Hitler’s Reichstag fire — a manufactured crisis or some other type of political or social upheaval — to enact a state of emergency or otherwise consolidate his power by subverting America’s political institutions. Is Trump’s firing of Comey the next step in this direction? . . . His “very first thought” on hearing the Comey news, Snyder wrote, “was that this was a far more open admission of collusion with Russia than even a confession would be.”
I asked Snyder how the American people should respond. “Realize that the presumption now must be that this man is covering up a meaningful relationship with a foreign power that helped get him elected,” he wrote. “Read the press. Pay for it. Support investigative journalists. Demand an independent investigation. Urge multiple institutions to investigate. Continue resisting in all other areas.”
Former U.S. counterintelligence operative Naveed Jamali, author of the new book “How to Catch a Russian Spy,” has also been trying to warn the American people about the threat to democracy posed by Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.  n total, Trump’s firing of Comey, his hostility to an independent judiciary, his authoritarian behavior and his evident attempts to control or contain the investigation into his connections to Russia add up to a constitutional crisis.
Unfortunately, Trump is being aided and abetted in his irresponsible, and perhaps even criminal behavior, by a Republican Party that, to this point, values power and partisan politics over loyalty to country and true patriotism. Trump’s supporters among the American people are deeply devoted to their leader, even if that means siding with Putin’s Russia and spitting in the face of American democracy. They are authoritarian lemmings.
History is watching. The American people now have to choose if they will be bystanders or agents in their own destiny. I am deeply saddened that so many Americans seem ready and willing to choose the first option.

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