- Recorder Online - https://www.berthoudrecorder.com -

Some Dare Call It Treason


by Mel Gurtov


Is Donald Trump not merely gullible, uninformed, and indifferent but actually treasonous when it comes to Russia? More and more high-profile people are saying so. He’s acting like “a Russian mole,” in the words of conservative columnist Max Boot [2]. “America is under attack and its president absolutely refuses to defend it. Simply put, Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous,” argues New York Times op-ed writer Charles M. Blow [3]. The former CIA director, John Brennan, tweets [4] that “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.” And John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA, calls Trump an “agent of influence” for Russia (MSNBC interview, July 16, 2018).

Indeed, one writer reviews the evidence [5] and invites us to consider that Vladimir Putin is Trump’s handler. And that piece was written before the Helsinki summit. But today, July 19, 2018, we have a mindboggling report [6] from the New York Times that Donald Trump was informed, two weeks before his inauguration, that the US government had rock-solid evidence of Russian interference, directed by Vladimir Putin, to sway the election. CIA director Brennan was one of the briefers on that occasion. So was James Comey.

We now know that Trump has long been aware of a Putin-directed assault on our electoral system. We also know that the Russians have for decades been cultivating ties with Trump in anticipation that he might be an important asset. Finally, we know now more clearly than ever, following Trump’s European trip, that Trump’s notion of national interest coincides all too neatly with Vladimir Putin’s. 

Let’s review the evidence. Since taking office, Trump has done the following in service of Russian interests:

It is almost beyond belief to think that the president of the United States might be doing Russia’s bidding. We’re a democracy, we have constraints on illegal and treacherous conduct, no one can get away with secretly serving another government for very long—right? But remember: We were warned [7] by 50 senior Republican figures in the national security establishment early on in Trump’s presidential campaign that he was unfit to be president and commander-in-chief. Their concerns were on the money. Yet there was no way anyone could have imagined the depths to which Trump has brought us—the facts and circumstantial evidence that point to impeachable offenses: “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “aid and comfort” to Russia, which the National Security Council has identified in its 2017 strategic paper as the principal threat, along with China.

“America First” seems to mean not just “American Alone” but “Russia first”: Trump is systematically undermining all the pillars of US national security and global responsibility—specifically, support of traditional allies, defense of the republic from foreign interference in our political process, and commitment to human rights, the rule of law, and diplomacy. Just about every policy move Trump has taken in Europe and the Middle East is in Russia’s interest. This conclusion is not to suggest that ameliorating US-Russia tensions is a bad thing; to the contrary, finding common ground with Russia on further reductions of nuclear weapons, nonintervention and power transition in Syria, protecting the global environment, and preventing election hacking would be fine [8]. Problem is, neither Trump nor Putin is seriously interested in tackling any of those issues. 

Catering to and appeasing the Russians is not the same as engaging them. It borders on treason. But if you have trouble with that word, let’s just say Trump is a dupe of the Russians. And we—meaning Robert Mueller most of all—must keep pursuing why. I’m convinced he already has the answer—an answer that should be sufficient to remove Donald Trump from office. Meantime, John Brennan’s question hangs over Washington: “Republican Patriots: Where are you???”


Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice [9], is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.