By early December the American public knew that Vladimir Putin tried to influence our presidential election, and the evidence has only increased since then. Yet the current president of the United States has shown no interest whatsoever.
And why not?
Six federal agencies are investigating possible connections between Trump associates and Russian agents; President Obama ordered a special report, senators called for a bipartisan investigation. Obama warned Putin by telephone, expelled 35 Russian diplomats, and increased sanctions against Russia.
President Trump apparently doesn’t care. He has issued no warnings, pursued no investigations, threatened no retaliation. He only calls it fake news. Maybe he hopes that if he never mentions it, it will go away.
Yesterday The Washington Post should have mentioned it and did not. The paper ran a 1,200-word article detailing how Trump’s staff had taken to criticizing Moscow more harshly while the president only tweets that “things will work out fine.”
His United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and CIA director Mike Pompeo in recent days voiced blistering criticisms of the Kremlin, but the president himself—after the timid observation that Russia was backing a “very bad person” in Bashar al-Assad—offered only the mild hope that “there will be lasting peace” with Russia.
Noting that Trump was thus isolated in his own administration on the question of policy toward Russia, The Post examined a number of possible explanations without ever mentioning the obvious one: the unresolved possibility—I would say likelihood—that the president is personally vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
Russia “stands now as one of the few major foreign policy positions that he has not discarded or revised since taking office,” The Post said. His staff struggles to explain this conflict, the White House remains silent about it, and foreign diplomats are confused.
Rep. Adam Schiff, after a national security conference in Munich, said officials he met there told him it did not matter what Trump’s staff says. “If they didn’t hear it from the president, they didn’t really believe it was administration policy,” he said.
Upon inauguration, the president took a simple oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But the president, since his inauguration, has not once expressed anything but contempt for the question of whether our constitutional election process is under threat.
Any president by now should have said publicly that the United States government will not accept such interference, will urgently investigate the facts and act to assure that it never happens again.
Why would this president not find it within himself to utter those words? It is unacceptable that he has not. And it is dangerously close to giving aid and comfort to an enemy, which is the definition of treason.
It is odd that The Post did not mention this as a possible explanation for Trump’s silence, and it’s unfortunate that so few journalists seem to be consistently pursuing this question. I do not believe that The Post is ignoring this story, but it does seem at the moment that CNN, The New York Times, even Reuters are more aggressive in their pursuit of it.
Journalists happily jump on the daily story, and the Trump administration happily feeds them daily stories to divert them from asking awkward questions about the big one.
But the Russia story will not go away until it is resolved. Trump’s silence makes him look guilty even if he is not.