June 5, 2019 Politics Trump, Russia, and patriotism: It’s reckoning time As many might have noticed, I have been at a loss for words. I could say it’s because I have a new granddaughter who takes my attention, or my gardens are too demanding, and these things would be true. But the reality is that I am stymied and have been ever since this president has taken a wrecking ball to our democratic republic, smashing norms and making us question truths that we have always held dear. However, after speaking with many of you over the last several weeks, I owe you my best effort. Here goes: 1. After Special Counsel Robert Mueller remained quiet as Attorney General (AG) Barr misrepresented his report and refused to disclose the true essence of Mueller’s findings, Mueller clarified them himself in a televised briefing. 2. Just to be clear, Mueller and those who investigated the Trump campaign and Russian conspiracy were not angry Democrats. They were primarily Republicans, including Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, the acting AG. 3. Mueller stated that if he could have declared that the president did not obstruct justice he WOULD HAVE STATED THIS FACT. The report clearly reveals multiple instances when the president did, in fact, obstruct justice. (Richard Nixon was to be impeached with far less evidence and fewer occasions of obstruction. Bill Clinton was impeached but not convicted for lying about an affair.) 4. AG Barr lied about Mueller’s findings. Donald Trump was NOT EXONERATED. Mueller declined to indict the president for obstruction because he followed Department of Justice guidelines. These guidelines state that no sitting president can be indicted because he or she could not be prosecuted in court while in office, and it would be unfair to indict anyone who could not defend himself or herself during this period. 5. The Trump campaign was investigated after US allies picked up chatter from Trump campaign officials to Russians connected to Putin. This was no witch hunt. Meetings, emails, and phone calls revealed 100 plus points of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. 6. The Russians did hack into accounts of Democrats, steal information, and share this information with the Trump campaign which used it against Hillary Clinton. Robert Mueller stated that he could not determine conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, however. In other words, he could not prove the Trump campaign actively conspired to get the information BEFOREHAND. Trump would not testify. His administration officials, in spite of what some conservative outlets reported, would not cooperate with the Mueller investigation in spite of AG Barr’s assertion—yet another lie. For most Americans, taking Russian help, whether with a quid pro quo or accepting it after the fact, is horribly unpatriotic and immoral regardless if conspiracy laws could not be proven to have been broken in the process. 7. If Mueller always knew he could not prosecute a sitting president, why did he investigate? He stated that the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. In other words, evidence had to be preserved so that Congress could hold the president accountable (through impeachment) and prosecutors could indict once the president was out of office. And there were indictments. So far, 34 people and three separate companies associated with the Trump campaign have been indicted for illegal activities. Those prosecuted thus far are either in jail or are awaiting sentencing. 8. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution so that this country would never fall under autocratic rule or become the monarchy we fought to separate from. There is a system for checks and balances. A president has his own White House attorneys. The AG is supposed to be the people’s attorney who upholds the Constitution through the Department of Justice and protects us from even the president. Congress is the means for declaring war, determining tariffs, appropriating funds, and also holding a president and AG accountable. Yet, Trump tweets war threats to countries in Asia and the Middle East, throws tariffs at our allies and trading partners (that Americans ultimately pay for), declares “emergencies” to repurpose funds Congress approved for other things, and refuses to answer to Congress (as does AG Barr) while encouraging others in his administration to ignore congressional subpoenas as well. Meanwhile, the Russians are still at it. They continue to hack and sow discord through social media, yet Trump says NOTHING. In fact, his silence against Russia is most likely his approval for their interference yet again. How each of us feels about the situation in our country boils down to how we view patriotism. Is it patriotic to support a president and his constituency no matter what? Is patriotism more about an allegiance to country or loyalty to a political party? We must all be thankful everyday that we live in a country where we are free to decide—a country built on ideals like honor and integrity. We owe it to the people who gave their lives DEFENDING the right to decide always to DO what is right no matter our political affiliation. America, it is time for a reckoning. Think about it. A realignment of power might not be so acceptable once the other side takes the White House.