The real collusion between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is evident in Trump’s pro-Russian actions across the world. President Trump’s relentless attacks on NATO, his promotion of far-right nationalist politicians, his defense of authoritarian leaders, and his assaults that weaken the European Union all directly benefit Putin. Trump’s actions and statements advance Putin’s goals of dividing Europe and weakening NATO.
Robert Mueller explained that his investigation “established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency… it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, [though] the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
It certainly looks like a much stronger case can be made for collusion with Putin when Trump calls NATO obsolete and he threatens to withdraw the United States from the defense pact. It couldn’t be more clear; Putin and Russia benefit with Trump’s attacks on NATO.
Following Trump’s “obsolete” comments, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu disputed Trump’s assaults, saying, “A strong NATO is good for the United States, just as it is for Europe.”
While Dmitry Peskov, press spokesman for Russian President Putin, agreed with Trump’s assessment of NATO, saying, “the systematic goal of this organization is confrontation.”
When Trump takes the side of Russia in opposition to our long time European NATO allies, that is clear evidence of collusion. Worse yet, Trump takes Putin’s word over his own intelligence chiefs.
In Helsinki in July of 2018, Trump defended Putin’s claim that Russia had no role in interfering in the 2016 elections. Trump stood next to Putin and said he didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible. He doubled down adding to Putin’s credibility by saying, “I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Just days before the Trump and Putin Helsinki meeting, Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into Clinton emails as part of his investigation into Russian election interference. As early as January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community determined that Russia, “carried out a comprehensive cyber campaign to sabotage the U.S. presidential election, an operation that was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and ultimately sought to help elect Donald Trump.”
How can Trump’s denials of interference in the 2016 election and defense of Putin be called anything but collusion?
Republican Party patriots once defended NATO and our allies. Now they remain mum as Trump supports far-right, anti-immigrant nationalist insurrectionists (Italy’s Matteo Salvini, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, and authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban). These new far-right nationalist politicians and strong-men are dividing Europe and weakening NATO.
Last month, Trump hosted anti-immigrant Hungarian Prime Minister Orban to the White House and said of him, “I know he’s a tough man, but he’s a respected man.” Both the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations shunned Orban for his authoritarian rule. Orban has developed a close link to Putin, again suggesting Trump’s embrace for Orban is an embrace for Putin.
Republicans once defended freedom-loving world leaders, but now willingly accept Trump’s defense of dictators and authoritarians from Putin to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un (remember when Trump fell in love with Kim). Trump has encouraged Brexit, calling the European Union a “foe” of the United States. The Republican Party is complicit in Trump’s weakening of the historic democratic world order with the resulting benefit to Putin. This is the smoking-gun evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
The survival of Trump’s presidency depends on the Republican-controlled Senate if the House follows through on impeachment charges. Trump’s collusion with dictators, far-right nationalists and authoritarians is a betrayal of America’s democratic values. Will Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley finally put an end to the promotion of Putin at the expense of NATO and our allies?
by Rick Smith
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