First, on December 12, 2016, the Washington Post printed a story that said the CIA believed Russia was behind computer attacks that targeted the DNC in an effort to undermine Hillary Clinton and her chances of gaining the Presidency of the United States.1 The article claimed unnamed sources within the CIA. Shortly afterwards, the New York Times followed with a story of their own, in which they too reported that the CIA was pointing a finger at Russia.
In the days that followed, both NBC’s and CBS’s news agencies ran stories confirming the accusations. On the heels of that, the FBI, after meetings with CIA Director John Brennan and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, accepted the conclusion that Russian hacking had indeed been designed to help the Trump campaign.2 In a blow to those who consider the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC, and CBS as nothing more than the mainstream media pawns of a liberal agenda, even FOX News has confirmed Russian interference in the recent general election.3
Throughout all this, the President-elect has been dismissive at best; dismissive to the point that his transition team responded to the CIA’s conclusions by stating, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'”4 Bear in mind, this is coming from the transition office of a man who has been refusing the daily intelligence briefings a President-elect is entitled to.
The transition team’s statement is a classic example of the half-truths and disinformation that are so common in today’s sound bite world and post-truth mentality. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, after his dramatic presentation before the United Nations, was mortified to learn that he had been duped by President George W. Bush and the administration’s cherry picking of CIA intelligence reports in order to make their case for war. As per the claim of one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history, it actually ranks 46th out of 58.5 One gets the impression that facts and transparency will matter little to the incoming administration, and that old Jedi mind tricks will be the order of the day (these aren’t the facts you’re looking for, move along….).
President-elect Trump’s fascination with Russia and his continuing bromance with Vladimir Putin is disturbing. Under his rule, the President of the Russian Federation has launched invasions into the Republic of Georgia, the Crimean Peninsula, and Ukraine. In fairness, Mr. Putin did have the grace and courtesy to wait a few days before the Crimean invasion, at least until after the gathering of peace and sportsmanship during the Sochi Winter Olympics (nothing awkward about that).
As former satellite nations of the Soviet Union, Mr. Putin seems determined to regain and control those territories which used to comprised a big part of the old USSR and its geopolitical power structure. One has to wonder what might come next. Whatever it may be, having a President of the United States consistently saying glowing things about Putin can only serve the man well. Now if he could only do something about that pesky NATO…
Questions about Russia have been part of the dialogue surrounding President-elect Trump since the early days of his campaign. The nation watched and listened as Mr. Trump first claimed he was good friends with Vladimir Putin, then to just saying he knew him well, and finally admitting to having met the man just once. Over the summer, one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found to be under investigation by the FBI for being involved in multimillion-dollar business deals with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, one of them a close ally of Mr. Putin’s that was reputed to have ties with organized crime.6 Mr. Manafort left the campaign a week later.
A campaign manager is one thing; a Secretary of State is entirely another. Enter Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobile. A man who has met with Mr. Putin many times, Mr. Tillerson once negotiated a 500 billion-dollar oil deal between Exxon Mobile and Rosneft (a Russian government owned oil company7). The deal fell through when the United States and the European Union applied economic sanctions to Russia in response to the threat of a violent takeover in Ukraine. Now, Rex Tillerson is the nominee for Secretary of State by serial Putin Admirer / President-elect Donald Trump (move along, there’s nothing to see here).
Politics has always been a stagnant cesspool of half-truths, obfuscations, denials, and outright lies. This has likely been true since the first time a primitive man sought to gain control over a tribe. Throughout time, the methods have become more and more elaborate. The stench still rises from them, however. No matter how hard one tries, turds can’t be polished. They also can’t be picked up by the clean end. President-elect Trump seems to realize these things, but he hasn’t bothered to go about his affairs with the usual delicacy. Rather than masking them with perfume, he’s just waving them under our collective noses. The stink cannot be ignored. Let’s give him this much, it’s certainly not politics as usual.
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