The Republican Party should be very concerned about more news stories this week linking Donald Trump to the Russian government. These new allegations reinforce the building narrative that Trump has questionable business relationships and foreign investments with Russian interests closely allied with President Vladimir Putin. Trump’s bizarre bromance with Putin has fueled the impression that Trump’s comments seem to be encouraging Putin’s hostile agenda toward America and the West. Former acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Morrell, said Trump supports “policies that read like a Kremlin wish list.”
Trump has violated much of the long established Republican traditions in this election. Will Trump’s support for Putin, a Russian thug and dictator, be a bridge too far for these Republicans? Trump’s embrace of Putin is a direct rebuke of President Reagan’s historical efforts to end Russian dominance in the world. President Putin is on a course to revive and rebuild the power, influence and dominance of the Russian empire that Republicans took credit for destroying. Will Republicans continue their silence as Trump repudiates much of what the Republican Party has promoted in foreign policy toward Russia?
The singular issue that has united the Republican Party since the cold war has been fighting communism. Recall the significance the Republican Party gave to former President Ronald Reagan for the collapse of the Soviet Union. That one accomplishment elevated President Reagan to sainthood in the Republican Party. Reagan and the Republican Party have much of their identity based on the conviction that they broke the back of communism. (Note: many historians dispute the Republicans claim that it was the Reagan initiatives alone that led to the demise of the Soviet Union.) Republicans continually repeat Ronald Reagan’s famous speech delivered in Berlin in 1987. In that speech Reagan demanded the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, “tear down that wall.” Reagan called for tearing down walls while Trump calls for building walls.
Now Republicans have a candidate that is encouraging Russian expansion and calls Putin a great leader! The United States is facing a standoff with Russia in hot spots around the world while Trump has a crush on a Russian dictator.
The American national security establishment isn’t silent about Trump’s dangerous links to the Russians. In September, 55 former National Security experts, both Democrats and Republicans, signed a letter demanding Trump reveal his international business relationships. The letter questions both Trump’s specific Russian involvement as well as other foreign entanglements that could damage or be in direct conflict with American foreign policy. The excerpt below of that letter specifies their concerns about a Trump Presidency.
It’s not hard to see why these reported relationships would be problematic. They could impact the foreign policy Mr. Trump would pursue as president, and they seem to have already influenced the policy positions he has taken as a candidate… Russia offers the most clear cut example of where Mr. Trump’s business interests may be influencing his policy positions. Mr. Trump’s son has said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section” of their assets and that they “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
We also know from numerous reports – including from a May Politico piece – that Mr. Trump made millions in 2013 from a Russian oligarch close to Putin when he hosted the Miss Universe event in Moscow and that the two men sought Russian real estate deals together. And Mr. Trump has allied his campaign with top-level advisers with deep ties to Russia, including former campaign chair Paul Manafort, who resigned amid a cascade of revelations about the depth of his connections to pro-Kremlin individuals… On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian leadership, while outlining policies that read like a Kremlin wish list.
In this election Donald Trump has broken nearly every established political convention associated with the Republican Party. He has insulted minorities, women, immigrants as well as religious and moral sensibilities about sexual behavior. In each instance, Republicans have downplayed it as locker room language, dismissed it as just boy talk, or ignored it by continuing to support him.
However, can Republicans accept and endorse a candidate or a president that seems to be in bed with the Russians? Can they accept a candidate that is rejecting the one president, Ronald Reagan, that they praise as an icon for standing up to Russia? Isn’t a vote for Trump a rejection of Ronald Reagan and his legacy?
Many of the individuals, including some Republicans, that signed the letter specifying Trump’s connections to Russia have endorsed Hillary Clinton. In August, Michael Morrel declared, “I ran the CIA, now I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton.” All voters, but especially Republicans should consider the national security implications of the choices in this election.
by Rick Smith