Yes, Rudy Giuliani, there was something wrong with the Trump campaign taking information from Russians – especially when their obvious ill intent was to influence our elections and subvert our democracy. And, no, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, we are not ready to move on anytime soon.
Shortly after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report of Russian meddling, Capito issued a press release, saying, in part, “I believe it’s time to move on.”
“Let’s get to work,” Capito said, “focusing wholly on issues that matter to West Virginians and all Americans like jobs, the economy, infrastructure, and border security.”
Well, we have news for the senator. Not everyone is so inclined, including us, to ignore threats to our democracy. Like most Republicans before the age of Trumpism, we are concerned with the state of our national security, too. In fact, the senator, like the president, placed one hand on a Bible, raised the other and swore “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
We expect her to live up to that pledge of allegiance. Now would be an especially good time.
Imagine, if you will, the public outrage had it been discovered that ISIS had planted bombs all across our country – in hotels and restaurants, at airports and sporting venues, in shopping malls and movie theaters, in churches big and small, black and white, north and south. Imagine, now, our federal government sitting on its collective hands with that information.
When Capito gets around to reading the entire report, maybe then she will more clearly understand that our country is under attack. Maybe then she will realize that she needs to be part of a solution, not part of the GOP herd that favors party over country.
Capito is among those on the right, like Giuliani, the president’s attorney, bending over backward to deny any damning evidence in the report against this president and his administration. Besides, Giuliani intimates, what’s wrong with sharing campaign strategy and information with Vladimir Putin?
Serving to protect the validity of Trump’s win in 2016, there’s not much concern from the Republican side of the aisle about Russia’s effort to undermine our democratic institutions. We recognize and understand the defensive posture and the self-serving excuses coming from Capito et al. But, goodness, gracious, people. The Republicans – once known as being most interested in national defense – are completely ignoring voluminous evidence confirming that the Russians were, indeed, up to no good and that, to this day, continue their wicked ways undeterred by any administrative interest or inclination.
Meanwhile, Congress sits on its hands.
This isn’t anything new, really.
Russia’s cloak-and-dagger activities were first known to members of Congress in the fall of 2016 – ahead of the general election. Russia, as stated in Mueller’s report, interfered in the election and, along with sewing political discord in fertile soil, harmed the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boosted the candidacy of Donald Trump.
Put another way, Russia became an outsized elector in our nation’s process of picking a president.
And, now, despite a glut of intelligence, Sen. Capito is ready to move on.
To be clear, Mueller’s work did not find that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its clandestine activities. But, according to the report, Russia intended to help Trump become president and the Trump campaign welcomed that assistance.
And now, the entire world knows. China, North Korea, Iran and most any rogue nation, foreign prince or potentate, seeking to do damage to the American ideal of freedom, has a roadmap drawn by bad actors in Russia. It is all spelled out in the Mueller report including channels of access, who can be squeezed, who is exposed, who is compromised.
While the House of Representatives is chewing off the more juicy pieces of the report related to possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, more attention is needed on erecting safeguards against such electoral interference in the run-up to 2020.
Just this past week, The New York Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, former head of Homeland Security, was trying to do just that – and was rebuffed by Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, who said the president still equated any public discussion of Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.
So, Sen. Capito, if you want to move on, that is a road we would suggest you travel. Please, take a look at what our Homeland Security, FBI and National Security Administration are doing collaboratively to protect the credibility and fidelity of our nation’s election process. The Russians, apparently, are not sleeping. Nor should our defenses.
We cannot afford to lose faith in this, the most basic function of a trustworthy, operational democracy.
Besides, you swore on a Bible.
— The Register-Herald