Will The Nebraska GOP Stand Up To Russia?
I wrote this piece on December 19, 2016. It has aged rather well.
In the not-too-distant past, the Republican Party was known as the toughest party against the Soviet Union, and then Russia. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and demanded Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. Republicans like to praise Reagan for ending the Cold War.
Recently, however, the GOP has taken a very different stance on Russia, largely because of their hatred of President Obama. Many prominent Republicans scrambled to defend Vladimir Putin after Obama and NATO imposed painful sanctions on Russia following the 2014 invasion of Crimea.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani praised the Russian strongman for saying he was aggressive in Ukraine: “There is a leader now.” Giuliani continued: “Putin has decided what he wants to do. What, he did it in half a day, right? He decided he had to go to their congress — he went to their congress, and he got permission in 15 minutes.” Former Republican presidential candidate Sarah Pae Lin was shocked by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, saying: “Look, people see Putin as someone who fights bears and drills for oil. They see our president as someone who wears mom jeans and is ambiguous and critical.”
Donald Trump and Mike Pence both share the radical right’s new love and admiration for Russia and Putin. During their recent campaign, they both viewed Putin as a more powerful leader than President Obama. Trump was flattered by Putin’s compliment: “Well, I guess when he says I’m smart, I think I’ll take the compliment, okay?”
Not only does Trump admire Putin, he also relies heavily on Russian credit to maintain his fragile business empire. According to Josh Marshall, Trump owes about $630 million to Russian banks close to Putin. As Donald Trump Jr. said in 2008: “The Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of many of our assets. We’re seeing a huge influx of money from Russia.” Six years later, Eric Trump bragged: “‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
Trump’s reliance on Russian capital to finance his investments has translated into pro-Russian leanings on Trump’s platform. The former reality TV star alarmed our allies during the campaign when he talked about ending NATO’s pledge to the common defense of Eastern European countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Moreover, it was the Trump campaign that intervened at the Republican National Convention to rewrite its platform on helping Ukraine take a pro-Russian stand.
During the campaign, Trump not only adopted pro-Russian platforms, but also initiated multiple contacts between his team and Russians. In September, Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser, held talks with senior Russian officials about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if Trump were elected President. Also, shortly before the election, Donald Trump Jr. held talks with Russian representatives in Paris talks.
All of these meetings between the Trump team and the Russians were confirmed after the election by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who said the Russian government and Trump’s envoy “had contacts” before the election. . Ryabkov added that “considerable” members of Trump’s team “have been in constant contact with Russian representatives” ahead of the U.S. election.
Given Trump’s support for the country and his extensive contacts and contacts with Russia, the recent CIA and FBI revelations that Putin and the Russians interfered in recent elections to help Trump make perfect sense of. While the Russians stole DNC and RNC emails, it was only Democrats’ emails that leaked to the media and Republicans. The Republican Party and the press are more than happy to serve as useful idiots for hostile foreign powers by spreading propaganda.
Putin’s help to Trump has paid off for Russia. Trump’s new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, gave a paid speech for Putin’s TV network and sat next to the Russian strongman himself at a banquet celebrating the network’s anniversary. Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has extensive business ties to Russia and has received Russia’s most prestigious award from Putin himself. As CEO, Tillerson lobbied extensively for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Russia.
These revelations that Russia helped Trump get elected have raised a cloud of controversy over his prospective Presidency and challenge the very legitimacy of his narrow victory in the electoral college. Trump can keep his promise to release tax returns, set up blinds for his businesses The trust and agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to address many of these issues. If Trump really has nothing to hide, he has no reason to disagree with these simple steps.
The Nebraska congressional delegation said nothing about the brewing scandal. Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith owe Nebraska voters the answer. Are they disturbed by Trump’s close relationship with one of America’s most important adversaries? Is Nebraska’s most famous Republican supporting Vladimir Putin or America?
At the very least, congressional Republicans in Nebraska should demand the steps I outline in this post. Their continued silence is cowardly and unacceptable. Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith should support legislation that would require Trump to release tax returns, create blind trusts and appoint a special counsel. This is not a partisan issue. This is about the national security of the United States.
As Nebraska Democrats, we must continue to speak out about Trump’s alliance with Russia and his aggressive agenda. We must closely monitor our congressional delegations and make sure they hear our voices. Please call them before the key vote. Please join their town hall meeting. Encourage your relatives and friends to get involved. We must exert relentless pressure. The security of our country depends on our efforts. We can do this. Let’s get it done!