The American political system is approaching eminent crisis and collapse. The five U.S. intelligence chiefs (two appointed by President Donald Trump) unanimously warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that the 2018 midterm elections will see the Russians “throw more propaganda and messages and fake personalities on social media — many of them run by Russian ‘bots’ or agents — to sow further political and social divisions in the U.S.”
Trump appointee National Intelligence Chief Dan Coats said, “there should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 elections as a potential target…”
These warnings strongly contradict Trump’s expressed views on Russia and his acceptance of denials by President Vladimir Putin.
Are we listening? Is the Trump show so fascinating that the news that over 30 of his key aides do not have security clearances one year into the administration has produced no warnings that we are in danger? Stupidity is worse than malevolence in many cases, and we have a surplus of both.
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Are our senators and representatives fiddling while Rome burns?
Even Trump appointee CIA Chief Mike Pompeo notes that, “We have seen Russian activities and intentions have an impact on the next election cycle.” He also told the Congress, “We do have some capabilities offensively to raise the cost for those who would dare challenge the United States elections.”
The difficulty for Americans is that such warnings appear briefly on the evening news, while the Trump administration sinks deeper into scandals and corruptions of its own making and lurid news flashes of the beatings his special assistant has given ex-wives and arguments about Trump’s payoffs to a porn star.
Do we have no shame at all?
Chief of Staff John Kelly is under fire for not policing the staff; final security clearances have not been obtained for over 40 people on the White House staff. Where did these miscreants come from? Do we want to just roll over and take it?
Isn’t it time to hammer our elected representatives, Rep. Andy Barr and Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, for not standing up to the man who is debauching the presidency, demolishing the country’s administration and ignoring major problems of growth and economic well-being?
Over 60 percent of registered voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing. Why is he not paying the price for pulling us down?
Perhaps we have just not focused on what constitutes good government, and listlessly wait until complete disaster strikes. Perhaps two few Americans are old enough to remember the Watergate demise of President Richard Nixon. And Trump has done far more to ruin the country than Nixon did, or President Bill Clinton did when he was impeached, but not convicted.
Where are the solid citizens who fought this kind of thing — the Elliot Richardsons and John Ruckleshauses of yesteryear? And if you don’t know who they are, you really need to look them up, read, learn and inwardly digest the lessons they tell. What are our senators and congress members thinking? The Democrats are doing what they can, but they are in the minority in both houses, though that could change as soon as next November.
The folks who could do something about this immediately are the Republican senators and congressmen and women — or even just a slice of them — who could unite with the Democrats to impeach the president. That would, of course, be the political deal of the century. But it might be the only way to save the Republican Party and the country from complete destruction.
A far more likely outcome, however, rests on the Mueller investigation. Indictments have just been announced. Will a third of the administration eventually go to jail? Faced with the possibility of potentially long sentences for criminal behavior for his sons and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and perhaps others, will Trump decide to resign to save his children as well as the country from a long, drawn-out collapse into political and economic chaos?
It is certainly going to be an interesting, if very rough, ride.
John D. Stempel is a former U.S. Navy officer, 25-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and former director and professor emeritus of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy.