When I started this project a few weeks ago, It was to be a blog, but it morphed into this, an in-depth examination of the issues surrounding President Donald Trump and the challenges they present.
I am painfully aware that after writing over 6,000 words, I have just scratched the surface. There are huge gaps of knowledge that can only be filled by the likes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his team of prosecutors. I await his report with growing interest each day.
I know that some will label this report “Fake News” and point to errors. That would be unusual because I never make them. Nothing about this report is fake. No part of it was made up. It is all based on fact-checked research. If you think you have found factual errors I certainly want to know about them. Bob Aronson
Chaos at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, has been under siege since before he was elected to the office. Charges of colluding with Russia to help him win the election, foreign and domestic scandals along with an investigation by a Special Prosecutor and a Senate Committee pose a real threat to his presidency. His style of leadership is chaotic, and he says he likes it that way.
There is so much turnover it is hard to keep track of who’s in and who’s out. Since inauguration day, a little over a year ago, he has had three National Security Advisers, two Secretaries of State, two Chiefs of Staff and two Press Secretaries (He has also lost several lower level staff people). The President has had several attorneys, but for a number of reasons they don’t stay. Now, with all the turmoil surrounding Trump many lawyers don’t want the job. In the week before publishing this report six attorneys turned down White House employment offers. Trump’s cabinet is also not in good favor. Several of them have left and a couple of positions have not been filled.
By any standard of measurement this is not normal activity, and it certainly doesn’t make for a smoothly functioning White House. Obviously with all that turmoil The President does not need the additional headaches created by the scandals. One has to wonder how he or anyone there gets anything done, and then again, maybe they don’t.
A Double Standard
If Barrack Obama had become friendly with Muammar Gaddafi, or Fidel Castro or Kim Jong Un, said nothing about their human rights violations, and refused to initiate sanctions passed by an overwhelming majority of the Congress, he would likely have been impeached, convicted and run out of office. Certainly, Republicans would have been the first to say that Presidents should not become friendly with countries that work against America’s best interests. But, with President Trump, they are mostly silent when he treats Vladimir Putin like a close relative, while Putin does his best to foment worldwide contempt for, and even armed conflict with the U.S.
We know that Mr. Trump doesn’t like to read, so it is entirely possible that he is unaware of the history of our relationship with Russia. On the almost non-existent chance that someone might read this to him, here’s a recap, that will help him understand why so many people think he is unworthy of the office he holds.
Despite Trump Administration protestations to the contrary, there is more than enough publicly accessible evidence to suggest that the President and a good many of his associates have questionable relationships with Russia. Furthermore, unless the President is a Russian agent, which is doubtful but worth considering, it is easy to suspect that he is being blackmailed.
Trump has been to Russia many times during his decades-long relationship with the country. His activity while there, and his personal history suggest that there are at least three possible Russian scenarios supported by pictures, videos, and documents that could end his Presidency. One involves highly questionable or illegal financial dealings, like money laundering, how his campaign was financed and the kind of deals he made to get the money. The second has to do with his history of philandering and the third is collusion. At least once a week he either says or tweets that there was no collusion. Doth he protest too much?
Scandals and Potential Blackmail
The Access Hollywood tape leaves no doubt about Trump’s attraction to women, but it has no connection to Russia. It is a candid recording of a man with no respect for women. Trump first said it was “locker room talk,” and then he said it didn’t happen. It happened, and it was hin. There were 14 witnesses there. And, it wasn’t locker room talk. It was lewd, disrespectful language from a man who is accustomed to thinking about women as toys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcZcTnykYbw
Vladimir Putin knows all about Trump, and may have capitalized on this knowledge to the President’s disadvantage. It is quite possible that Putin has graphic evidence from Russians of Trump’s philandering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcZcTnykYbw, and other Russian adventures.
Add to that the U.S. stories about his affairs with former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, and adult movie star, Stormy Daniels, and you have the potential for more scandals than the TV show of the same name. Neither of those have any connection with Russia or Putin. Both Daniels and McDougal have brought civil lawsuits against Trump. And, both women say that Trump associates threatened them with harm if they talked about their affairs. That’s a criminal offense.
Trump’s affairs may be seen as morally wrong by many, but everyone knew about his philandering during the campaign, and he won anyway. The stories of intimacy make for good tabloid grist, but it’s the lawsuits that could hurt him. Trump himself could go on trial. For his part the President denies the charges. If the two suits ever go to the courtroom you can be sure more damaging information will surface. What’s really interesting is that while Trump surrogates deny that he had a relationship with him, the President has not said a word. The great counter-puncher is arm weary.
Russia is well-known for helping visitors enjoy their stay more by providing certain “entertainment” for them. Besides the two American women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, there could be some Russian involvement as well as was outlined in the famous dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. If any of that document is accurate Trump’s problems will multiply.
There are two courts with which the President must deal. One is the court of law and the other is the court of public opinion. The latter can be just as destructive as the former and its judgments are harsher and faster. Judging from poll numbers, many have already issued their verdict.
If Vladimir Putin’s files include the scenarios I mentioned and he has shared that information with Trump. the potential for blackmail is very high. And, if Putin threatens to use that information, unless— (you fill in the blanks).
With an ego like Trump’s he might agree to almost anything, His narcissistic personality would not be able to survive the humiliation, so he might go to any extreme to prevent its release, including violating his oath of office and selling out his country.
Future behavior can often be predicted by looking at the past. If the President reacts to the flurry of negative news, the way he has in the past you can expect fireworks. Look at the his past behavior. Anytime he is criticized he attacks the person who did it whether a chief of state, a football player or a Gold Star mother. When he attacks he does so viciously and, because he is never wrong, he never apologizes.
The GOP has done its best to stand by their leader, but with every passing day, Trump offers new embarrassments that have caused a slow but certain erosion of support. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Charlie Dent, Jeff Flake and others are parting ways with the president while even more are reported to be thinking about it. Many have chosen not to run for re-election because the Democrats seem to be on a roll. They have won almost every special congressional or legislative election since mid-2017. The handwriting is on the wall, and it is in big, black, bold magic marker.
Vladimir Putin is not one to refrain from using information that might damage the US. It’s a pretty safe bet that if Putin has dirt, he will release it. To prevent that, Trump should consider releasing his own bad news. In the 2016 campaign enough voters shrugged off his infidelity to get him elected. They just might to it again. And if, as Trump says, the rest of the charges are “hoaxes” he just might keep his job. But, if Putin releases the “dirt” with his usual vitriol, or if Mueller tells the story by way of an indictment or in a courtroom, Trump will no longer be President, or rich.
Republicans have always been at the vanguard of opposition to Russian expansion and aggression, and in support of law and order, and morality issues. Remember “Family Values?” Donald Trump has violated all three. He has coddled the Russians, opposed his own Justice Department, fired the head of the FBI, and is being sued by at least two women who say they have had affairs with him while he was married to Melania. They also say that they have been threatened by people from the Trump organization.
Such a turnabout in Republican thinking is having a negative effect. A former congressman from Hawaii said a few days ago that he’s leaving the Republican Party because of President Donald Trump and the failure of fellow party members to stand up to him.
Charles Djou, the former GOP Congressman from Hawaii, says he’s so disturbed at what the party has become under President Trump he had no choice but to leave it. While Djou is already out of office some 35 Republicans who still hold their seats have decided not to run again. Many of them say that the words, actions, and policies of the Trump Administration have made it impossible for them to win . Why ?
As as stated earlier, much of it has to do with the President’s relationship with Russia which is the subject of several investigations. Russia has not been friendly toward the U.S. since their 1917 revolution. That’s when the Communist Party took the reins of government. Even before communism while the Tsars were in power, the Russian/American relationship was tenuous. The two countries have almost always had a tense relationship, until recently when President Trump initiated a one-sided reversal. He says very little that is critical of the Russians, but over 80 times since April 18, 2013 Trump has made comp]imentary comments about Putin.
On October 2013 in a comment to David Letterman he admitted that he’s done “a lot of business with the Russians” something he now denies) and that they are “smart” and “tough.
On February 16, 2016 he said at a news conference that he had no deals in Russia.
And finally at a rally on March 12, 2016 he said that the media falsely claims he admires Putin: “Putin said good things about me. He’s a leader and there’s no question about it, he’s a genius.’ So they all said, the media, they said — you saw it on the debate — they said, ‘you admire President Putin.’ I said, I don’t admire him. I said he was a strong leader, which he is. I mean, he might be bad, he might be good. But he’s a strong leader.”
After events of the past few days, some might say, “Wrong Bob. He just expelled 60 Russian diplomats and shut down their Embassy in Seattle. On top of that he leveled new sanctions against them for the poisoning of a British citizen.” Yes, he did all of those things. Perhaps he felt the heat from those 80 complimentary statements and decided he’d have to look tough. What he did was right and proper. Strangely, though, Trump has made no statement about expelling the Russians as I’m writing this report. Every comment has come from “a White House Spokesperson.” Remember, Trump never criticizes Putin and rarely says anything negative about Russia. but that doesn’t make up all the times the Russians violated American interests and Trump neither did nor said, anything, for example:
- The Russians have mercilessly bombarded thousands of non-combatants in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Trump has not said a word.
- Russian mercenaries launched a surprise attack on American and Syrian troops. A clear act of war. Trump said nothing.
- Recently Putin decided to flex his military muscle. He knows that in a conventional encounter his country is no match for the US so, he upped the ante and bragged instead about Russia’s nuclear power which is on a par with ours.
- Putin claimed that Russia has developed its own nuclear-powered missile that could reach almost anywhere in the globe, including Florida, which could be seen as a threat against Mar-A-Lago, the Trump Golf Club there.
The Russian President said the new missiles would intercept American Missiles and make them useless. He also listed a nuclear weapon tipped intercontinental ballistic missile, underwater nuclear drones and many more examples of what Russia is testing.
Most people viewed the comments as threats. Trump said nothing and did nothing.
- Putin supports Iran, an acknowledged exporter of terrorism and a country that is dedicated to destroying Israel. Trump said nothing.
- Russia supports North Korea, a country that continues to threaten the US with nuclear annihilation. Trump engages the North Koreans in using threatening language of his own, but says nothing about Russia support of the Hermit nation. The list is endless. To prove he has even a modicum of integrity, he’ll have to do a great deal more than expelling diplomats.
While Trump refuses to say anything critical of the Russian leader, he almost never has a bad word for hin. Putin, however, does not reciprocate. Instead he fans anti-American flames regularly and has even taken military action against us with mercenaries, and then he denied he had control over them. His hold on power and increasing militarism depend on the perception that the U.S. is an aggressive, dangerous enemy. He is an expert at fear mongering, so much so that the average Russian believes adventures like the occupation of Crimea, and Georgia are a way to prevent further American involvement in the region. Those facts alone make it almost impossible to understand why Trump is so supportive of Russia, while Russia remains adversarial.
Had the President looked at Russian/American relations through the lens of history he would know that since our nation was born until now we have rarely been on the same side. We were not always enemies, but the relationship was nearly always strained.
World War II brought about an alliance to fight Germany, but that’s because
Germany broke the treaty they had with Russia when the Nazis launched operation, Barbarossa and attacked Josef Stalin’s Russia. The US/Russian alliance was short-lived, though. It ended abruptly right after the end of the world war when Soviet expansion began, and with it, the cold war. From that time on America and Russia were at odds, through the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962, the Vietnam war in the 60s and 70s, and several brush fire conflicts in between and since, Russia has always been on the other side.
It might be wishful thinking, but maybe Mr. Trump has found the key that will change the relationship between the two countries. If so, he will be the first to do so. Even the great wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, was mystified by the Russians and admitted it. In a radio broadcast in October of 1939, he said, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
On March 5, 1946, less than a year after the end of the second world war, Churchill offered another unforgettable quote. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” The Cold War had officially begun and did not end until the fall of the Soviet Union in late 1991 when it dissolved into its component republics. But – did it really end?
While communism may no longer be a political force in Russia, Vladimir Putin just won election to another term. When it ends, he will have been Russia’s leader longer than any other including Joseph Stalin. But whether Stalin or Putin the Russian economy and attitude toward the U,S. haven’t changed. Putin’s win in the most recent election was huge. He got over 70 percent of the vote for his fourth 6-year term. He won even though the county’s economy is in shambles, freedoms are severely restricted, and Putin is becoming increasingly militaristic. And, he still won by that margin? Funny how Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Andropov, leaders of the old Soviet Union won by similar margins and, of course, Putin was a key operative in the Communist KGB.
The health of the Russian economy is almost entirely dependent on selling the country’s vast fossil fuel reserves. They don’t have much else for sale. When was the last time you saw a Russian car, computer or TV set for sale anywhere? Unfortunately, for them, oil and gas prices are very depressed and have been for a while. So, despite their abundance of petroleum products, they aren’t selling much.
The Russian attitude toward the U.S., though, is as hardline as ever. Putin depends on and feeds the average citizen’s negative attitude toward us to solidify support for his anti-western policies. Germany’s Angela Merkel
describes Russia as Putin’s “parallel world.” She also noted that in any negotiation, Putin always fights for the survival of his regime and himself.
The late President Ronald Reagan called the old Soviet regime the “evil empire.” Putin turned that thinking on its head. His method of governing promotes the idea that the United States and its puppet NATO, are
intent on dismembering Russia. The average Russian has learned to think of the US as the “evil empire.” All of Putin’s policies are focused on preventing the US from “imposing its corrupt political and social values on Russia.” Even so, our president will not offer a critical word about Putin.
Understanding Russia’s history and its long-term animosity toward us make Trump’s pro-Putin, anti-NATO attitudes even more questionable. Russia is not a good trading partner, and it is unlikely they ever will be. Add that to their support of countries like Iran, which exports terrorism, and one must wonder how Trump can justify his position and maintain the support of his base. At the same time, with his attitude and newly imposed tariffs on our traditionally good trading partners, Trump looks more and more like a Russian ally. Are Trump’s ties to Russia closer than suspected? Or, is Putin blackmailing him with information so destructive the American President will violate his oath of office to prevent it from becoming public. `
Just look at President Trump’s actions and those of his campaign. Also take a look at the revolving door that has more White House team members exiting than entering. The conclusion that something is amiss is inescapable. The President can’t keep a legal team together either, and I think I know why. Lawyers make strong suggestions about what clients options are and what they can or should do. Trump doesn’t like advice or being told what to do. That’s probably why he can’t keep a legal team, a Secretary of State, a National Security Adviser and here’s an astounding fact. In the last week, six attorney’s have turned down offers of employment from Trump. For the first time, ever having worked for the President of the United States could harm a lawyers career.
Trump’s Russian Financial Entanglements
Many people suspect that financial entanglements just might be the issues that are keeping Trump silent. Let’s look at that issue. Starting at the very top, the President, by his own admission has enjoyed very profitable ties with the Putin regime. Not only has he made many trips to Russia, but he has also gained a substantial return. For example, in 2008 he made millions of dollars on a deal with Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev. Trump purchased a Palm Beach, Florida mansion four years earlier for $41 million, The sale to Rybolovlev for $95 million more than doubled his investment. And … he invested very little in improving the property.
White House and Campaign Staff Russian Connections
Trump’s White House team is just as involved. It’s almost as though having a relationship with Russia is a job requirement. Here are just a few examples.
Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former National Security advisor, who recently pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI, resigned his position a few weeks after taking it. His resignation came after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russian officials, specifically the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. It was revealed that in those meetings Flynn discussed lifting the Obama imposed sanctions.
In 2015, Flynn delivered a speech at a Moscow gala honoring RT (Russian Television), the country’s propaganda arm. He sat next to Putin. RT also paid him $33,750 for that speech. Then, he incorrectly reported the payment. That misstep might be illegal. Flynn continued to appear on RT as a foreign policy analyst. Altogether, he was paid more than $67,000 by Russian companies before the 2016 presidential election.
Rex Tillerson: President Trump’s Secretary of State until recently. Tillerson worked on energy projects in Russia for two decades during his career at Exxon. He has publicly described his “very close relationship” with President Putin and was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013, the highest state honor possible for a foreigner.
Jared Kushner: Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law and current Senior Advisor. Along with Michael Flynn, Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak during the Presidential transition. The White House later acknowledged that following that meeting, Ambassador Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Kushner had a deputy attend. However, at Kislyak’s request, Kushner later met with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank, who has close ties to President Putin. The U.S. levied sanctions on the bank following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The New York Times recently reported that Kushner failed to disclose dozens of contacts with foreign leaders on his application for top-secret security clearance — one of those contacts being Ambassador Kislyak. Kushner was regularly briefed on secret, highly sensitive material and he did not have Top Secret clearance..
Donald Trump, Jr. President Trump’s son met with Fabian Baussart, a leader of a Syrian opposition group backed by the Russian government, and others about how the U.S. could work with Russia on the Syrian conflict weeks before the elder Trump was elected President. He also attended a secret meeting with several Russians in Trump Tower with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, They said they were discussing Russian adoption.
Trump Jr. has offered several statements that contradict his father’s. For example, he said of his father’s businesses, ” We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” His father used similar words a few years before but lately has denied having any business connections with Russia. Young Trump, though, said he had visited Russia over a half-dozen times.
In June 2016, Donald Jr. met with a Russian billionaire, Emin Agalarov, having been told that Agalarov had “official documents from the Crown Prosecutor that would incriminate Hillary Clinton and her dealings with Russia.” Agalarov said this was part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” There are at least a dozen more Trump associates who have Russian ties .
President Trump continues to loudly proclaim that there is not and was not any collusion with Russia to influence the American Presidential election. The graph below clearly shows the Russian connections to the Trump campaign team (most of the team either did not make it to the White House or left when they got there.raphic from http://legaldataviz.com/project/donald-trumps-connections-to-russia-and-Vladimir-Putin)
Often, after numerous statements that he has selected a special person for a job, someone with the “highest qualifications,” Trump will tire of them. The latest casualty is National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster. His replacement will be former U.N. Ambassador and military hawk, John Bolton. He’s the guy who has encouraged a preemptive strike on North Korea. As George W. Bush’s UN Ambassador, Bolton was a leading advocate for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He said they had nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and would use them against the U.S. (there is no evidence that Iraq had any weapons of that sort).
On May 9, 2017 President Trump fired FBI Director, James Comey. Had he not lost his temper in firing Comey, there would be no Mueller investigation. The President told NBC News anchor Lester Holt later that he did it because of Comey’s investigation of Russia’s involvement in the Presidential election. The firing caused Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself because of his own involvement with the Russians. As a result, Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI chief Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate the Russian connection. and anything else that comes up in the investigation. It’s the President’s fault that Mueller is hot on his trail.
Now, Trump blames the Mueller appointment on Sessions for recusing himself, ignoring the fact that Trump is responsible for appointing Sessions and Rosenstein, and the mysteries surrounding his Russian visits. The President has since launched a public campaign to discredit all three of them and anyone else who is critical of him. He and his lawyers proudly and regularly make public statements like, “After this lengthy investigation there is no evidence of collusion, it’s time to end it.” Well, how would they know there’s no evidence? Prosecutors don’t share evidence with those they are investigating. The Trump contention of no evidence is untrue in two ways. One is that he and his lawyers have no way of knowing that and two, is that the President is saying that in a manner that suggests to his audience that he is innocent. The GOP led puppet congress is blindly accepting the Trump lies. The House Intelligence committee arbitrarily ended their investigation and told Trump they had found nothing. Trump says that proves he is innocent. If so, why is the Senate still investigating and why hasn’t Robert Mueller ended his efforts? To the contrary, Trump’s continuing efforts to stop the investigations and his frequent cries of “there is no collusion” ring hollow. If he was innocent, why doesn’t he say, “Let them look under every rock and behind every tree. I know I’ve done nothing wrong and they will, too. In the meantime, I’ll be making no more comments on the matter.”
Russia is Not Our Friend
Trump’s support of Russia and Putin makes no sense when you consider this. Russia is not our friend, nor will they ever be. The number of Russian anti-American, anti-European alliance, anti-NATO activities is too numerous to list, but here are a few.
Illegal occupations. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing democracy and threatening security in the region. As a result of this destabilization, pro-Russian forces in Ukraine shot down a Malaysian Airlines passenger flight over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
In recent months, Russia has intensified its military presence along the border with Baltic allies Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. If you consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the continued militarization of the region is a troubling sign of further Russian aggression against U.S. allies and interests, yet Trump offers not a word of criticism.
Russian Cyber Attacks. Not only has Russia attacked the American election, but there is also ample evidence that it has done the same to neighbors like Georgia and Ukraine, not to mention serious cyber attacks on several prominent NATO countries.
American intelligence has warned the President that Russia is gearing up to do it again in our Congressional and Gubernatorial elections this year. Still, Trump has issued no orders to defend ourselves. $125 million was appropriated for Cyber defense last year, and not a dime has been spent. Many, who are well-schooled in international law, call what Russia did, an act of war.
Russia supports our enemies. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the top U.S. military officer in Europe, said he is aware of growing Russian diplomatic and military influence on the Taliban in Afghanistan. General Scaparotti said, “I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late – increased influence related to association and even supply to the Taliban.”
Since 2001, the U.S. has fought the Taliban in Afghanistan, where more than 1,800 American troops have been killed by the same people who are supported and armed by Russia.
Russia is a long-time ally of Iran, a country listed as a key exporter of terrorism. During the Obama administration, the US signed an agreement with Iran that would help prevent or at least slow down the country’s development of nuclear weapons. Trump has sworn to tear it up, which plays into the hands of Putin who would allow Iran to be Nuclear armed as a threat against their mutual enemy Israel. Trump is forever proclaiming his support of the tiny Jewish nation, while at the same time acting in a manner that could allow Iran to use nuclear pons against the country they have worn to wipe off the face of the earth.
Trump sides with the bad guys. Recently there was another Trump act of support for Putin and his country. Against the advice of his national security advisers, Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his sham election victory. A victory in which there is clear video evidence of people stuffing Russian ballot boxes. Trump, though has a habit of congratulating other murderous thugs for their success in gaining office. It’s a long list, so I’ll limit it to three examples, but you’ll get the idea. Before each of these meetings Trump was thoroughly briefed. He was well-aware of the nature of these people.
Russia continues to support the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose use of chemical weapons against insurgents is intolerable and constitutes a war crime. Russian forces in Syria appear to have deliberately targeted civilian areas of Aleppo. In a report presented by the Atlantic Council, satellite images, social media, surveillance footage, and eyewitness accounts outline Russia’s “indiscriminate” bombing of civilian areas of Aleppo. These attacks, which are responsible for killing and injuring civilians (including children) and for leaving a portion of the capital city without access to functioning hospitals. This brought broad condemnation from scores of countries. But not a word from President Trump.
Philippines dictator, Rodrigo Duterte, “Kill the drug addicts. AKA “Duterte Harry” also got a congratulatory call from President Trump.
Duterte’s record? It is shameful. He’s accused of killing more than 7,000 Filipinos in his anti-drug crusade. In a warped comparison, he said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews (the real number was twice that). Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Of journalists, he said, “you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.” 78 of them have been killed there since 1992.
On human rights, Duterte said, “Forget the laws on human rights. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey. “Feminists don’t believe in motherhood.” Erdogan also got a friendly call from Trump. A recent referendum gave Erdogan the green light to dismiss what democratic institutions there stood for, allowing him to rule by decree if he deems it necessary, and, of course, he did.
He has jailed opponents and critics, including a 16-year-old, who insulted him and a Miss Turkey who shared a poem criticizing him. More than 50,000 people have been detained under his rule. Additionally, Erdogan has fired about 120,000 public servants, repressed religious freedom, and women’s rights and is attempting to criminalize adultery and ban alcohol in certain parts of the country. Erdogan says, “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. … Our religion has defined a position for women: motherhood. … Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”
And finally, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt. (Criminalized adultery, Prosecutes alleged Gays) You won’t like what you read about him, but President Trump thinks of him as a friend, so he, too, got a congratulatory call. El-Sissi rose to power in a military coup that killed 800 protesters in one day. Upon taking power he banned public criticism of the government and arrested and jailed scores of his citizens. Also restricted is freedom of expression. The head of the Press Syndicate was charged with “publishing false news, which threatens public peace.” Sound familiar?
Religious freedom is almost nonexistent. Christian children, in fact, were sentenced to five years in prison for putting up a video that mocked ISIS. The government has undertaken some minor steps to curb violence against women, but Human Rights Watch says, “Sexual harassment and violence against women remained endemic.” The new female Interior Minister has told Turkish women to avoid speaking loudly and to be cautious about how they dress. Egypt also criminalized sex outside marriage and tracks down and prosecutes alleged gays.
El-Sissi quote: “Please, don’t listen to anyone but me. I am dead serious. Be careful; no one should abuse my patience and good manners to bring down the state. I swear by God that anyone who comes near it, I will remove him from the face of the Earth.
In spite of all that, Trump says, “I will tell you, President el-Sissi has been somebody that’s been very close to me from the first time I met him. We met during the campaign. It was supposed to be just a quick brief meeting, and we were with each other for a long period of time. We agreed on so many things. I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President el-Sissi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. And the United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing. And I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me.”
Trump/Putin War on free expression, In a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, President Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Then in a deliberate attempt to hide his actions, he banned US media from the meeting, but he allowed a Russian photographer to attend. In the White House! The photos were then released on the Russian state-owned media. That is an unprecedented move for a U.S. president. Banning American journalists from the meeting but allowing a member of the enemy press? That one event certainly challenges the President’s loyalty.
Journalists often say, “Our job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” They are not paid to write favorable or unfavorable stories about anyone. Their job is to report both the good and bad. Presidents Trump and Putin don’t like criticism and Putin has done his best to destroy the Russian press. Trump has that same vindictive streak. The first amendment guarantees free expression. President Trump takes great delight in his continuing attempts to destroy the guarantee with his claims of “Fake News” It seems that only news organizations that usually agree with Trump, like Fox, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal are also the only ones with honest coverage. That means NBC, CNN, PBS, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and anyone who publishes or broadcasts news that is negative about Trump, is a liar and makes up those stories.
Honestly, readers, is that believable? Think about it. It is not unreasonable to at least suspect that Trump’s attack on the news media is in direct harmony with Vladimir Putin’s near destruction of free expression in Russia.
As a former journalist and then Communication’s Consultant I know a little bit about the subject. There are some dishonest reporters, and there are reporters who make mistakes, but is it reasonable to believe that all reporters and all the media (except a few) spend all their waking hours making up news? Conversely isn’t it possible that on occasion Donald Trump and his media supporters are wrong?
How is it humanly possible for any one person or group of persons to be either right or wrong all the time? Trump loyalists demand that the media be totally objective. Do they not see the double standard there? In your support of Trump, are you always totally fair and honest? Is Fox news? You must admit it is very hard to do. Journalists are trained to try; it’s part of their job. They attempt to find the important angles of any story, sometimes they fail, but it is usually not for lack of trying. Surely there are examples, but I’ve never known a journalist, broadcast facility, or print publication that regularly made up stories as a matter of policy. That’s a violation of every Journalistic code of ethics I’ve ever seen. Also in violation of ethics codes . are organizations who only ever report on items favorable to their point of view. Here’s a code of ethics link. https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
There’s so much more to this story, but I fear I am testing your perseverance already. I have but one final observation. I have lived under twelve American Presidents. Never, in all those years have I seen one like Trump who leads the news almost every day and rarely says anything encouraging to us. He is forever complaining about something, blaming someone, or attacking Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Can’t he get it through his head that he won, and they’re gone?
In closing this report, I hope you found something useful and enlightening. If you disagree with my assessment and conclusions, that’s fine but please show me, too, where I am factually wrong.
As you think about what you’ve read, remember these words. “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu
Sources for this report are numerous. Here are just a few.
- Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
- Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell of California (Salwell is the Ranking Member of the CIA Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence https://swalwell.house.gov/issues/russia-trump-his-administration-s-ties 4
- Brainy quotes. https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/leadership
- Hawaii News Now. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/37758242/i-abandon-my-party-djou-explains-in-editorial-why-hes-leaving-the-gop
- The Atlantic Magazine https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/12/russia-liberal-democracy/510011/
- National Museum of American History http://americanhistory.si.edu/subs/history/timeline/end/
- Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/03/05/republicans-who-wont-be-coming-back-to-congress-after-2018-midterm-elections.html
- National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2017/05/02/526520042/6-strongmen-trumps-praised-and-the-conflicts-it-presents