With the resignation of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe after months of sustained attacks from Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans and Trump’s decision to not continue sanctions on Russia over its hacking of the US election, important voices from across the nation are sending bleak warnings to Americans about the state of their democracy.
Former FBI director James Comey tweeted the following in the wake of McCabe’s untimely resignation:
Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.
— James Comey (@Comey) January 30, 2018
An hour later, chess grandmaster and prominent Vladimir Putin critic Garry Kasparov had this to say about Trump’s refusal to continue sanctions against the Russian government:
Incredible. Trump defies Congress to protect Putin, who attacked the US election to help Trump. Those are plain facts. Is is possible to believe he isn't compromised? https://t.co/rB4Tz3H51b
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) January 30, 2018
These two tweets perfectly encapsulate the extraordinarily dangerous predicament the country finds itself in. On the one hand you have a president and Congress actively trying to discredit a federal investigation into issues pertaining to treason, and on the other, the president refusing to punish the country he may well have colluded with for what technically could constitute an act of war.
If this isn’t definitive proof that Donald Trump is dangerously compromised and not capable of fulfilling his duties as president, it isn’t clear what is. Trump, the GOP, and Fox News’s relentless war on the FBI and the nation’s intelligence agencies is extremely troubling and with them gunning for Robert Mueller, it could well be the end of America as a functioning democracy.
Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, recently stated with certainty that Russia will attempt to target the US mid-term elections later this year. If the Trump administration believes that the “mere threat of sanctions will deter Russia’s aggressive behavior,” then he clearly isn’t listening. So why does Trump bother meeting with the CIA chief every morning for intelligence briefings? Either Trump is taking the advice or he isn’t — either he believes in the value of the US intelligence agencies or he doesn’t. And all the evidence indicates he isn’t interested in what they have to say. At least when it comes to Russia.
This begs the question: why? If Trump knows more than the CIA about Russia, what are his sources? Like his political compadre Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin’s word counts for nothing and history proves it definitively. He is a notorious liar with little regard for transparency or the functioning of democracy, and just because he says Russia didn’t hack the US election and isn’t going to this year doesn’t it won’t. The fact that the Trump administration thinks it can sidestep punishing Russia for hacking America’s democracy on the basis that it would be bad from a business perspective shows a lack of respect for the nation’s intelligence. It either shows astonishing weakness, or something far, far worse.
And the smart money is on the Russian government knowing something about Donald Trump he really, really doesn’t want the world to know about.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.