Still looking for the smoke in the Russia/Trump collusion investigation? Try opening your eyes to the full-scale bombs going off in our yards. If you think Russia’s Vladimir Putin would be a friend, as Donald J. Trump has claimed repeatedly, consider these few factors: Putin’s KGB background, the attack he ordered on Russian children in a school in Beslan, children who were held hostage by Chechen rebels. Putin ordered no negotiations and had the school fire bombed, killing 250 children, injuring hundreds more. Putin has ordered Russian state trials of 50 journalists critical of the Putin regime. During Putin’s time ruling Russia, some 200 Russian journalists have been killed. It is suspected by intelligence communities that many of their deaths were directly or indirectly ordered by Putin, including the execution of Anna Politkovskaya (two times before they were successful in murdering her). Putin is believed by intelligence agencies to have ordered the assassinations of political opponents or his critics, including Denis Voronenkov, Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Sergei Magnitsky, and Boris Nemtsov, among many others. At this writing, a new poisoning of a Putin critic is being investigated in Great Britain.
In other words, Vladimir Putin is brutal, a despot who has ordered assassinations, a man who is doing everything possible to take down democracies, America, the European Union, and Western alliances. “It’s terrifying that the Director of National Intelligence says we’re under attack by Russia, cyber attack is the biggest threat we have, & we have no way to deal with it…We’re in the middle of a dangerous war. And we’re not fighting,” tweeted Kurt Eichenwald, journalist and senior writer with Newsweek.
In this two-part series, we will examine both how Putin operates, uses propaganda, and a few of the many ways his machinations have had an effect on the United States of America.
Retired General and leader of the NSA and CIA under George W. Bush, Michael Hayden was interviewed by Zach Stanton of Politico magazine (February 27, 2018): “Michael Hayden doesn’t know if Donald Trump colluded with the Russian attack on the 2016 election—but he’s sure the president helped the Kremlin and is continuing to do so every day,” wrote Stanton.
In the live Podcast interview, Hayden says, “The overall objective of the Russian effort was to mess with our heads and erode confidence…And they decided by mid-summer that the very best way they could mess with our heads was to make more people vote for Donald Trump, period…We have now established the criminal enterprise. One hundred and sixty-four times, he [Trump] called attention to WikiLeaks? That’s help…I see a case for a campaign that never seems to have said, you know, that wouldn’t be right…But the bigger problem is with a country that continues to be torn apart, and therefore vulnerable to what the Russians did two years ago, and a president who won’t confront that reality head-on.”
Part II in the series will explore what Americans can do about it.
Part I: Putin’s Playbook
|Putin’s Playbook out of the old KGB and current Russian military intelligence (GRU)||How the U.S. is doing under Trump’s leadership, accommodating Putin and his Playbook|
|Destabilize Western governments|| 1. Trump’s several attempts, successful for a few days at a time, of shutting down our Federal government
2. Trump neutering the State Department with assistance from Rex Tillerson
3. Trump filling Cabinet positions with individuals who have sworn to destroy or diminish that Federal government department.
4. Trump has made disparaging remarks about U.S. allies (Germany, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, among others) while complimenting dictators (Putin, Philippine dictator Duterte, among others). This kind of behavior fits into Putin’s plan to isolate the U.S. from its allies and further prevent it from helping European countries.
5. Trump dishonored and pulled out of the Paris Accord that the U.S. had entered with almost every other nation in the world, further isolating us.
6. Since taking office, Trump’s White House has been a never-ending parade of exits by staff (24 Tier One positions as of this writing), unfilled government positions, massive cuts in key positions in the State Department (among other areas), all causing confusion and dysfunction in our Federal government operations.
|Undermine Western countries’ domestic politics and delegitimize the electoral and democratic processes by casting doubt on its integrity||
1. Trump expressed satisfaction in the released hacked emails of Podesta from the Clinton campaign. A couple of days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
|Instill unrest and dissension between Western allies to weaken them and weaken NATO||
1. The NFL TakeaKnee# controversy that Trump indulged himself in has been proven to have direct links to Moscow troll farm.
|Sow confusion; feed and support secessionist and adversarial movements with conspiracy falsehoods within Western countries to take them down gradually, using human plants and troll “farms” and bots to spread disinformation or propaganda as weapons in the war on democracies||
1. In February 2018, a Federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities close to Putin, accusing them of interfering in the U.S. election and political processes.
|Deceptively arouse nationalist sentiment, using scapegoats, to turn citizens of a Western country against one another. The KBG is known to have forged letters from the Ku Klux Klan to paint a portrait of U.S. racism (not that the group really needed any help in this matter).||
1. Sound familiar? Trump’s sustained attacks on Mexicans, on Muslims, on people from South American countries to “arouse nationalist sentiment.”
|Use financial ties to spread corruption and dissention in Western countries.||
1. Examples include funneling millions to Trump campaign, using Manafort connections in shady, if not outright criminal, backchannels.
|Erode faith in Democratic institutions; undercut the norms in democratic discourse: fear and uncertainty are Putin’s great allies in strengthening his regime at home and his grand designs to expand power as dictator.||
1. Trump is now believed to have taken his orders from Putin on the direction of choosing a Secretary of State for the United States. Tillerson was Putin’s choice. Tillerson has worked out well for Putin in that he has not spent one dime of the $120 million Congress asked the Pentagon to allocate to stopping Russian interference.
|Russian state-sponsored Mafia and crime syndicate networks operating in Europe and now the U.S.||
1. Right before Trump announced tariffs on imported steel, friend and sometime advisor Carl Icahn unloaded millions in Steel-related stock.
|Sum total: After struggling and almost losing control, Putin has figured out a ruthless way to stay on top, rake in millions, and break down and destroy democracies around the world.||
Sum total: Although evidence clearly points to Trump-Putin collusion, even if Trump is being used, only two theories are possible here. Trump either refuses to or is incapable of defending the United States of America against the Russian aggressor Vladimir Putin. Either way, this factor alone should call for his impeachment.
Whether or not Trump was actively conspiring with Vladimir Putin against the interests of the United States or merely allowed himself to be used, we are examining incontrovertible facts. He has also done nothing to punish Russia for the attacks; he has continued to praise Putin, and, most damning, he refused to act upon the bipartisan legislation on new Russian sanctions that came out of Congress in 2018.
Trump’s statements of praise of Putin are all easily documented:
“Of all the damage Trump can do to the American conservative movement, making it pro-Putin rather than pro-freedom could be the most serious,” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol posted to Twitter, according to Business Insider magazine.
*Since first publication of this article, Russia appears to have attacked citizens on British soil. “It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter (Russians living in England) were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” British Prime Minister May said in the House of Commons. “The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.” She further said that either the poisoning was a “direct act of the Russian state against our country.”
In addition to the Russian Skripal, a number of British citizens were taken to hospitals after exposure to the nerve gas. On this past Monday, March 12, Russian Nikolai Glushkov died mysteriously in his London home. The pile of Putin’s assassinations grows. Trump’s direct response: none. When pressed by reporters, he equivocated. It appears there is no longer a question of whether Putin has something on Trump. The only question is what?
As a result of Trump’s “leadership,” Republican approval rating of Vladimir Putin has gone from only 10 percent approving of the dictator in 2014, according to an NBC poll, to 37 percent viewing him favorably in December 2016, after Trump’s election. These are Americans favorably viewing the murderous dictator who wants to destroy our country and our democracy.
Presciently and without irony, Donald J. Trump said in 2014, “Putin has shown the world what happens when America has weak leaders.” Never was a truer sentence spoken by the man who now occupies the White House.
Nancy Avery Dafoe