Donald Trump, Jr., after lying for months, recently admitted that last year he met with a Russian official who claimed to have information on Hillary Clinton that would aid his father’s presidential campaign. Trump Jr. enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to obtain dirt on his father’s opponent. The fact that receiving aid from a foreign power, especially an avowed enemy state, in a presidential election is illegal did not phase the Trump campaign at all. This lack of respect for democratic principles suggests an utter lack of patriotism at best and borders on treason at worst.
Trump the Younger was not the first Trump campaign / administration official to lie about the Trump-Russia connection. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the racist Senator from Alabama whom Trump appointed Attorney General lied under oath about meeting with the Russian Ambassador. Isn’t in comforting to know that the highest law enforcement official in the land is not only a racist but also a perjurer. Perjury. That’s what the republicans impeached Bill Clinton over. Trump’s first pick for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned in disgrace after he was caught lying about his secret meetings with Russian diplomats. Never mind the fact that he was on Turkey’s payroll as a lobbyist—a inconvenient truth that never occurred to Trump the Elder. Conflicts of interest don’t disqualify anyone with these people; conversely, the greater your conflict of interest is, the higher the position to which you are likely to be appointed.
Take Rex Tillerson, for example. A good old boy from Texas, Tillerson became the CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world, in 2006. In 2011, Tillerson signed a deal with Rosneft, the state-owned oil company of Russia, to conduct offshore drilling in the Black and Kara Seas and also to build a massive natural gas plant near Vladivostock. A research center in the Arctic was also in the works. According to conservative estimates, this joint business venture is worth at least $500 billion.
But the dollars signs stopped dancing in the eyes of Tillerson and Putin when President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for arbitrarily “annexing” Crimea in Ukraine. The imposition of economic sanctions to punish bad behavior by brutal dictators is nothing new. Recalling what happened when Hitler began “annexing” the nations of Europe, Bush the Elder went to war after Iraq “annexed” Kuwait.
So with billions of dollars tied up in Russia and competitors moving in, what’s an oil company to do? Why, be appointed Secretary of State of course. It didn’t take long, about a month, for Tillerson to try to remove the sanctions. If the storms of scandal concerning Trump’s Russia connections had not been brewing, the sanctions would have been lifted.
Now Hurricane Trump-Putin is gaining strength and all the spaghetti models have the eye making landfall at the White House.
What we know so far is probably only a fraction of the tangled Trump-Putian web of connections. Putin is estimated to be one of the wealthiest men on earth, worth at least $70 billion, most of which stems from investments in oil companies. We do not know the extent of Trump’s business investments in Russia because Trump refuses to disclose his tax returns, despite repeated promises to do so.
What, exactly, is the extent of Trump and Putin’s mutual financial interests? Is this why Trump refuses to criticize Putin, a man even republicans consider a thug and murderer? Is this why Putin was so hell-bent on interfering in last year’s election?
Some have suggested that Russia’s interference in the election resulted from Putin’s contempt of Hillary Clinton. Their mutual disdain for each other is well-documented and while that may be a part of the reason, I suspect the real motive boils down to money.
Presidents Trump and Putin have a lot in common. In addition to being greedy pigs who refuse to disclose their financial investments, both Trump and Putin are misogynists. And both have a venomous contempt for human rights and civil liberties. The ever-expanding investigation into their sordid relationship is sure to expose more immoral and criminal behavior. The most shocking revelations are probably yet to come. Why else would Trump fire the guy leading the investigation? He is clearly hiding something.
In the meantime, Trump’s supporters will continue to turn a blind eye. As long as he keeps spouting bigoted rhetoric and advancing prejudiced policies, his base will remain placated. Ironically, they will suffer the most from his ill-conceived policies. Their salaries will decrease, their debt will increase, and many will lose their health insurance. Terrorist organizations will continue to enjoy a recruiting bonanza using his orange visage as a poster child at their rush parties. Democratic institutions such as the free press and fair elections will continue to unravel.
But he’s an old white guy so it’s okay. And oh, but her emails.