TrumpRussia: What do we know, when did we know it?


“What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Most people recognize this famous question even if they don’t know it came from  Howard Baker, a Senate Republican and a close friend to then President Richard  Nixon.

What’s forgotten today is Baker thought he was protecting Nixon with that line. He was attempting to wall off the president from the actions of aides who might have done something wrong.

“He evidently meant to exculpate Nixon from prior knowledge of the break-in,” wrote historian Fred Emery in his book “Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon.”

But Dean turned this question around. Among other things, he charged that Nixon had been involved in discussions about clemency for those who had carried out and organized the break-ins, as well as talks about payoffs. Dean said the president had continued these activities even after he, as White House counsel, had warned his boss of a “cancer” on the presidency.

Nixon had already denied all these things. It was his word against Dean’s. In that standoff the president might well have won the benefit of the doubt from the Senate and the US people.

Then in early July, another Nixon aide revealed to the panel the existence of the White House tapes. A record existed that could prove whether Nixon or Dean was right.

At that point, Baker continued to press, not for Nixon’s advantage, but for the truth. His careful and detailed questioning won him widespread national attention and praise.

The Christian Science Monitor

In the real world an overwhelming amount of verified public evidence suggests the President and all of his men are guilty of conspiring to subvert the rule of law and polls show a majority of Americans believe that Trump has committed a crime.

Consider this January 26, 2018 statement from Dianne Feinstein in which she observes that Trump doesn’t respect the rule of law or the Constitution.

Screenshot of a statement from Dianne Feinstein in which she observes that trump doesn't respect the Constitution or the rule of law.
It’s unfortunate that this president doesn’t respect the Constitution or the rule of law.

Trump’s disdain for the law is such a given it’s as if Feinstein is dishing a bad choice of tie: “…too bad trump needs to have what looks like a long red tongue dangling between his legs. ”

It may be comforting to compare TrumpRussia to Watergate but the two scandals are not alike; Watergate was an attempt to rig an election by stealing documents and illegally recording the DNC; TrumpRussia is an ongoing conspiracy to subvert the government of the United States of America.

If the Watergate Scandal was a cancer on the Presidency, TrumpRussia is a flesh-eating bacteria.

Russian Propaganda is gaslighting; a form of psychological abuse designed to make you doubt what you know.

This timeline covers stories that broke before election day 2016.

So, what do we know about Trump and TrumpRussia?

We knew as early as 2014 that Putin was financing an army of trained propagandists: The Kremlin’s  Troll Army.

Screenshot of Russian propaganda portraying Obama as weak and effete
August 12, 2014 example of Putin’s trolling in an Atlantic Article about Kremlin Trolls


We knew Putin’s army is trained and vicious:

‘Trolling covers a multitude of sins but a particularly nasty strain has emerged in the midst of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which infests comment threads on the Guardian and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of moderators. Readers and reporters alike are concerned that these are from those paid to troll, and to denigrate in abusive terms anyone criticizing Russia or President Vladimir Putin.”

Uk Guardian

Screenshot of the UK Guardian editors note on Pro-Kremlin Trolls
…a particularly nasty strain (of trolling) has emerged in the midst of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which infests comment threads on the Guardian and elsewhere, despite the best efforts of moderators

 

Every day at the Internet Research Agency was essentially the same, Savchuk told me. The first thing employees did upon arriving at their desks was to switch on an Internet proxy service, which hid their I.P. addresses from the places they posted; those digital addresses can sometimes be used to reveal the real identity of the poster. Savchuk would be given a list of the opinions she was responsible for promulgating that day. Workers received a constant stream of “technical tasks” — point-by-point exegeses of the themes they were to address, all pegged to the latest news. Ukraine was always a major topic, because of the civil war there between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Army; Savchuk and her co-workers would post comments that disparaged the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, and highlighted Ukrainian Army atrocities. Russian domestic affairs were also a major topic. Last year, after a financial crisis hit Russia and the ruble collapsed, the professional trolls left optimistic posts about the pace of recovery. Savchuk also says that in March, after the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered, she and her entire team were moved to the department that left comments on the websites of Russian news outlets and ordered to suggest that the opposition itself had set up the murder.  The New York Times, The Agency

 

We knew as early as June 2016 that Putin was using this army of paid propagandists to support Trump’s run for President.

June 2016 Politico Graphic of Putin and Trump
We knew in June 2016 that Putin was backing Trump’s run.

 

In August of 2016 we learned that Trump was being sued for fraud:

 

an August 2016 news item reporting that a Judge found evidence to let the lawsuit against Trump University to proceed.
August 2, 2016 Judge Allows suit against Trump University

 

August 2016 we learned that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was under investigation for his activities in the Ukraine

 

Screenshot of an August 2016 news item reporting that Manafort is under FBI investigation
August 20, 2016 Feds investigate Manafort

“I want to know what money he got from a pro-Russian organization in the Ukraine,” Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday.

 


In August of 2016 Democratic Senator Harry Reid was so concerned about Russian election tampering he called for an FBI investigation:

 

Screenshot of a News item Dated August 29, 2016, Senator Harry Reid cites evidence of Russian Tampering,
August 29, 2016, Senator Harry Reid cites evidence of Russian Tampering,


In a letter to the F.B.I. Director, James B. Comey Jr., Mr. Reid wrote that the threat of Russian interference “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.” Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Mr. Reid said in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin’s “goal is tampering with this election.”  The New York Times

In that letter to FBI Director James Comey we learn that former Director of Central Intelligence, Michael Morell viewed Trump as an unwitting agent of Russia and the Kremlin:

Screenshot of August 29, 2016 - Letter from Harry Reid to FBI- regarding Russian Election Tampering
August 29, 2016 – Letter from Harry Reid to FBI- regarding Russian Election Tampering

On October 3, 2016 we hear reports that Putin is trying to compromise Trump:

Screenshot of an excerpt from a letter to Congress from Harry Reid.
October 3, 2016, we learned the FBI was informed that Putin is trying to compromise Trump.

This material is known as the Steele Dossier.

We’ve known since January of 2017 that Christopher Steele’s was first hired by Republicans for opposition research into Trump and later by the Democrats.

This was widely reported.

Fusion GPS had been hired by Republican opponents of Mr Trump in September 2015. In June 2016, Mr Steele came on the team. He was, and continues to be, highly regarded in the intelligence world.

In July, Mr Trump won the Republican nomination and the Democrats became new employers of Mr Steele and Fusion GPS. In the same month, Mr Steele produced a memo, which went to the FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.

Four days later, Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Officials involved in his campaign had already asked the Republican party’s election platform to remove a pledge for military assistance to the Ukrainian government against separatist rebels in the east of the country.

Mr Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was taking this path because it was aware that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party emails. No evidence of this has been made public, but the same day that Mr Trump spoke about Crimea he called on the Kremlin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.  The UK Independent

Screenshot of a story in the Hill, October 13, 2016 report of regarding information connecting the Trump campaign to Moscow
October 13, 2016 report of regarding information connecting the Trump campaign to Moscow

October 12, CNN reports that Federal Law Enforcement officials have reason to
believe Florida’s voting machines were hacked by Russia:

Screenshot of CNN Report that American Law Enforcement think Russia hacked Florida's voting machines
CNN Report that American Law Enforcement think Russia hacked Florida’s voting machines

October 3rd The Access Hollywood Tape is released:

October 12, reports surface that a woman who claims Trump raped her when
she was 13 has a court date:

screenshot of the court date set for a woman who claims she was 13 when trump raped her
On October 12 we learned that a court date was set for a woman who claims Trump raped her when she was 13.

A judge has ordered a status conference hearing into a lawsuit submitted by a woman who claims Donald Trump raped her when she was 13-years-old in 1994.

Federal Judge Ronnie Abrams has ordered the hearing for 16 December in a New York court. She has asked for both sides to provide information to assist the Court in advancing the case to settlement or trial. The Independent

screenshot of UK Guardian Story on Rape charges from a woman who claims she was 13 when Trump raped her.
UK Guardian Story on Rape charges from a woman who claims she was 13 when Trump raped her.

November 09, Putin celebrates Trump’s ‘win’.

Screenshot of NYT article regarding celebrations in Moscow
November 9th, Moscow celebrates Trump’s victory over Clinton

This timeline does not include everything that we knew prior to the night of the
election but all of it is public information and every bit of it can be cross checked across multiple media outlets.

I also chose to use the British press to illustrate that these were widely reported stories.

Don’t let Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump play gaslight with you.

The only conspiracy is the one we can see with our own eyes.

Rob Goldstein 2018

 

 

Divide and Conquer: Russia’s War on Western Democracy

First posted 10/17/2016 as “I Like Ike”

The GOP ‘establishment’ bemoans our divided Nation as its Right Wing
PACS produce political ads designed to frighten and a divide the voters.

Let me juxtapose two very different political ads produced by the GOP.

Below is a political ad made in the ‘Good Old Days’.

The year is 1952.

The ad is for Eisenhower

screenshot from a 1952 political ad for Dwight D. Eisenhower that shpws three stupid looking donkeys standing behind a fence
I don’t know what this image says about Democrats, but whatever it is, it doesn’t say evil.

Donald Trump might remember the ‘I Like Ike’ ad; he was six when the ad came out.

Hillary Clinton was four.

The ad was produced by Roy Disney and Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon.

Its target audience is the post war working class:

screenshot from a 1952 ad for Dwight D. Eisenhower
Economically diverse groups of people like ‘Ike’


The ad below was made after the first presidential debate of 2016.

Screen shot from a September 26th 2016 political ad released by the GOP PAC, Future 45 which shows Isis hostages just before execution.
Screen shot from a September 26th 2016 political ad released by the GOP PAC Future 45

It is funded by a Right Wing PAC with a curious name: Future 45.

Future 45 describes itself as follows: “Future 45 is an independent organization devoted to educating voters about the challenges facing our country as they prepare to elect the 45th President of the United States.

Screen shot from a September 26th 2016 political ad released by the GOP PAC Future 45 that continues to promote the discredited Benghazi Scandal
Screen shot from a September 26th 2016 political ad released by the GOP PAC Future 45.

From Future 45

“Our next president will shape the Supreme Court in a way that will influence the direction of our nation for decades to come. The strength of our economy and the security of our nation depend upon electing a strong, proven leader.

A photo of Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin that is faked
Neither of these two people are in the same room.

While Donald Trump is a proven businessman with a plan to reignite our economy and recover American strength through peace, Hillary Clinton is a politician following the Obama model that has landed us in a fragile economy with slow growth feeling less safe than ever. Americans understand this and are speaking up”

The Obama model that has landed us in a fragile economy with slow growth feeling less safe than ever?

Who made this ad? Putin?

The ad was published September 27, 2016

It aired on the following stations:

CNNW 8
KMGH (ABC) 3
WCVB (ABC) 3
WMUR (ABC) 2
KNXV (ABC) 2
KTNV (ABC) 3
WEWS (ABC) 3
KCRG (ABC) 3
KGO (ABC) 3
WISN (ABC) 3
KPHO (CBS) 1
KPIX (CBS) 1
KLAS (CBS) 1
KGAN (CBS) 1
WPVI (ABC) 3
KCNC (CBS) 1
WOIO (CBS) 1
MSNBCW 1
WTMJ (NBC) 1
WFTS (ABC) 1
FOXNEWSW 1

FBC 2

all Materials found on the Internet Archives

Further Reading:

Trump Is Borrowing Putin’s Media Playbook

How False Equivalence Is Distorting the 2016 Election Coverage

Isolation and Propaganda: The Roots and Instruments of Russia’s Disinformation Campaign

Updated 5/31/2017 to include this RNC ad released November 1st, 2016, after the FBI was said to have re-opened the instigation into Hillary Clinton’s email.

Updated 5/31/2017 to include a copy of #TheMuellerReport.

As it turns out, Vladimir Putin did make that ad.

Download and Read #TheMuellerReport

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Civics Lesson for the New 1950’s of the 21st Century

First posted 11/12/2016

Cover of the 1955 recording of Roger's and Hammerstein's Oklahoma
Oklahoma! (1955 film cast) found on the Internet Archives

With all the talk of America’s return to the 1950’s I thought Americans should know what we need to have in place to help President Trump make our return a success.

A collage of Donald Trump as a 1950's greaser riding a bike in front of the White House with Hillary Clinton falling off. His shrt reads 'if you can read this the Bitch fell off'
Make America Great Again – ‘America…in T Shirts’
by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

The sense of community and the income equality of the 1950’s were the result of two generations that forged a social contract based on what they had learned about fascism
by defeating it.

The older generation had fought and won World War One and younger adults fought World War Two or had older siblings who fought.

Women also served in the military.

Photograph of a woman working in a factory in the 1940's
Woman in the Factory- 1940’s – Public Domain.

All men upon reaching the age of 18  were required to either serve in the military or serve in their communities.

This forced men of different classes to meet each other as equals which fostered a measure of respect and understanding between the classes.

Black and White AP photograph of Elvis Presley being sworn into the army
Elvis Sworn into the Army, 1958
By Associated Press – Public Domain

The people of the 1950’s also voted to create a public fund for themselves which they called Social Security.

This fund was designed prevent Americans from destitution in old age.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Universal World Reference Encyclopedia: Social Security

In the America of the 1950’s women had the vote but very little power in the workforce or in politics.

Racial equality varied from state to state.

Economically, the people of the 1950’s believed in progressive taxes, regulated utilities, fully funded public education and community service.

If we’re returning to the 1950’s, we might as well get it right.

I offer this film by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

It was used in the high school civics classes of the time.

The film, Despotism was produced in 1946.

This is how the Establishment  or ‘Deep State” of the 1950’s defined Democracy and good citizenship.

As communities go, so goes the Nation.

screenshot from Despotism by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films which shows a scale between democracy and despotism
Where does your community stand?

Where does your community stand on a scale between Democracy and Despotism?

Rob Goldstein(c) 2016

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Fear Itself

Below is a YouTube video in which Donald Trump tells his supporters to kick a protester out of the audience.

In this second video you see Trump’s supporters beat the guy up. In the background you hear Trump shouting, “Get him the Hell out of here,” as his supporters cheer.

Where have I seen scenes like this before?

Donald Trump is not just a privileged blowhard like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

Donald Trump is a charismatic Narcissist whose enablers are willing
to shred our Democracy to prop up Trump’s Narcissistic delusions.

None of this is new.

Dying for a principle is not new.

Neither is dying to keep in place a class system in which only the wealthy élite prosper.

How many times do we have to do this: the torture, the scapegoating, the democide, the bigotry, the slavery, the inquisitions, and all of that needless suffering?

Here’s my problem:

We don’t have to do this.

Most voters in the United States have access to unbiased factual information about all of human history.

There is enough history for us to see and prevent these destructive cycles of mass murder.

Our species has done this so many times, it’s not surprising that it’s happening again.

But we can stop this. There is still time.

The problem is not Islāmic Terrorists.

The problem is the brutal inequality and exploitation that history shows us is the inevitable result of unregulated Capitalism.

The_protectors_of_our_industries
We can stop this.

We have a gift called reason.

We can use it to save ourselves from years of chaos and destruction.


Wendy at WendysWrittenWords asked me to describe an ideal society.

I’ve considered the question and my answer is this; I think an ideal society is one that dedicates its resources to promoting human rights.

I study history to question the present.

In his 1941 State of the Union Franklin Roosevelt said:

“The Nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.”

The Nation is stronger because the people know they have a stake in its success. The Great Depression was a recent event when Roosevelt gave this speech.

“Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.”

Roosevelt provides an economic context for the rise of fascism:

“For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others…”

Equality of opportunity is not the same as a free ride. Providing it is part of the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.

“Jobs for those who can work.”

The assumption here is that people who can work will work and those who can’t want to.

“Security for those who need it.”

Economic hardship is a fact of life for many people. Those people are citizens and voters. Providing some measure of relief is part of the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.

“The ending of special privilege for the few.”

A democratic system is the antithesis of a government that caters to the rich. This is another aspect of preserving equality of access. Preventing the rich from using their power to rig the system isn’t class war. It is the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.

“The preservation of civil liberties for all.”

No one has the right to vote away another person’s freedom. Protecting everyone’s rights is the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.

“The enjoyment . . . the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”

A healthy democracy spreads the benefits of new discoveries in science and makes them available to everyone.

“These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.”

The health of our democracy is directly related to the work we do to sustain it.

“Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement. As examples: We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.”

Because the fullness of life that comes with economic security belongs to everyone in a healthy democracy, not just the wealthy few.

“We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.”

This is government acting on the principle that everyone benefit from scientific research.

“We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.”

This statement predates Civil Rights legislation and laws against workplace discrimination.

Roosevelt then calls for global a human rights movement.

He broadens the scope of the rights specified in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Roosevelt continues: “If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.”

The voters understand that the civilizing principles of our democracy are more important than money and they will not support a Congress that doesn’t.

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms…

The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.”

http://"Save%20Freedom of Speech". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Save_Freedom_of_Speech.png#/media/File:Save_Freedom_of_Speech.png

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.

""Freedom of Worship" - NARA - 513537" by Norman Rockwell - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Freedom_of_Worship%22_-_NARA_-_513537.jpg#/media/File:%22Freedom_of_Worship%22_-_NARA_-_513537.jpg

The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

Freedom_from_want_1943-Norman_Rockwell

The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.

""Freedom from Fear" - NARA - 513538" by Norman Rockwell - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Freedom_from_Fear%22_-_NARA_-_513538.jpg#/media/File:%22Freedom_from_Fear%22_-_NARA_-_513538.jpg

“Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change–in a perpetual peaceful revolution–a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions–without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.”

The United States, the principles of democracy, and our definition of human rights is evolving and change does not require a descent into barbarism.

“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.”

The freedom to speak your mind, worship as you please, benefit from new technologies and the abundance they create, are the only way we can make
a safe and just world order. These are freedoms, not rights.

Roosevelt understood that our credibility as a nation was directly linked to our commitment to the principles that shaped and must continue to shape our government.

He looked at the Nazis and saw a people who felt defeated and were impoverished. He saw inequality and poverty as the cause of fascism.

Roosevelt understood that fascism can happen anywhere, even in the U.S.

People whose individualism forces other people to live by a code of ignorant dogma are toxic to democratic systems.

A true individual understands and accepts his obligations to other people and the obligations of leadership.

In a healthy democracy our leaders are public servants who owe their allegiance to all the people.

The men and women who made Roosevelt this nation’s President four times are called the Greatest Generation.

I understand the use of this term but it troubles me; I sense an implication that we can only have one “greatest generation.”

What does it mean to belong to a great generation within the context of the history of democracy in the United States.

What do you think it means?

Here is the “Four Freedoms” section of Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address:

FDR – The Four Freedoms 6 January 1941

 

 

(c) Rob Goldstein, 2015 All Rights Reserved

All Images in the Public Domain

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save