By Robert A. Vella
A new whistleblower complaint from a senior Department of Homeland Security intelligence official, plus more revelations from Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” on the Trump presidency (to be published next week), further expose the existential threats Donald Trump poses to America’s democracy, constitutional rule of law, and the health and well-being of the people.
This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t partisan political rhetoric (I am a registered Independent). This is reality, and we have less than two months to stop it. President Trump IS a fascist. President Trump IS a racist. President Trump IS a traitor. The evidence speaks for itself. This is the exact same mentality that motivated White Southerners to commit treason by seceding from the United States in 1861. Due to the nation’s failure at Reconstruction, America’s Civil War never really ended.
Let’s not sugarcoat what we’re up against. The vast majority of Trump supporters (about ⅓ of the electorate) are cultish followers precisely because he is fascist, racist, and traitorous. There is roughly another 7% or so of the electorate who will vote for the Republican candidate no matter who or what he is; and, it is they who are enabling Trump. On the flipside, an incredibly diverse coalition of Democrats, liberals, progressives (such as myself), centrists, moderates, and principled Republicans – representing approximately half of the electorate – stand in opposition. The remaining 10% of usual voters have varied interests, motivations, and awareness of politics, which cannot be easily categorized. Finally, there’s about 40% of the eligible population which typically does not vote – of which the largest proportion is younger people who are generally more liberal and progressive, ideologically.
Fortunately, Trump is so egregiously divisive that this diverse and larger opposition is surprisingly united in its cause to defeat him in the 2020 election. Unfortunately, Trump can wield the might of the federal government to corrupt the logical outcome through disinformation campaigns, voter suppression techniques, and through intentional collusion with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin who is once again actively interfering in a U.S. election.
In the following news stories, I urge readers to consider all the ways this collusion might corrupt the November election. Will Russia be able to hack into voter databases and election infrastructure? Are election systems in U.S. states vulnerable? If so, which states are most vulnerable? Are GOP-controlled states the most vulnerable because Republican officials might be complicit? How effective or willing will social media companies be in stopping the spread of disinformation? How confident are you that Democrats are doing everything they can to ensure a fair election?
I ask these questions not to instill more anxiety in readers who are already worried about this monumentally pivotal election, but to raise informational awareness so that our worst fears are not realized. This is our time to shine. Make the most of it. Be strong, be determined, and be confident in what we’re fighting for. Remember: United we stand, divided we fall.
Regarding President Trump’s rationale for blatantly lying to the American people about the coronavirus pandemic and for his refusal to mobilize the federal government to combat it, as detailed in Woodward’s book, it is just more evidence of his utter unfitness for office. Trump says he didn’t want to “panic” the American people, but what he really means is that he didn’t want to panic the stock markets which he sees as vital to his reelection. Trump couldn’t care less about the 190,000+ Americans who have died from COVID-19 (the most deaths in the world by far) or for the untold thousands who will die from this contagion in the months ahead. If he did care, he surely wouldn’t be continuing to impede and obstruct his administration’s response. Remember that FDR didn’t conceal the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor from the American people, nor did JFK hide the threat of nuclear war with Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis, nor did George W. Bush hesitate to inform the nation that Islamist terrorists had attacked America on 9/11. But Trump did, and that tells the whole story in a nutshell.
A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges he was retaliated against after refusing to stand down on reporting Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, according to a complaint released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee.
Brian Murphy, who was principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at DHS before his alleged demotion, says in a whistleblower complaint that he was instructed by then-Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to withhold an intelligence notification on Russian activities because it “made the president look bad.”
Murphy objected, the complaint says, telling Wolf “it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons for political embarrassment.” He claims he was subsequently excluded by Wolf from meetings on the subject and that the draft was ultimately edited in a “misleading” way in order to “place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China,” which, Murphy says, is “inconsistent with the actual intelligence data.” The draft with the revised analysis was then leaked to the media, according to the complaint.
Murphy also alleges that Wolf ordered him to shift the focus of future assessments to interference efforts by China and Iran, and that instructions to do so had come from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Murphy declined to comply, he says in the complaint, because “doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.”
Trump has repeatedly downplayed Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy, even though U.S. intelligence officials have concluded the Kremlin orchestrated a sophisticated campaign to boost Trump’s candidacy in 2016. Lawmakers in Congress and Trump’s own intelligence officials continue to warn that Russia is trying to sway the 2020 presidential contest.
The new whistleblower complaint makes two other explosive allegations: that DHS officials pressured him to downplay the threat from white supremacists while playing up the threat from left-wing protesters and to manipulate intelligence on possible terrorists trying to enter the United States via the border with Mexico.
Investigative journalist Carl Bernstein commented on the revelations about President Donald Trump brought to light by his former colleague Bob Woodward in his new book Rage, saying that Republicans will be “responsible” if they don’t work to counter the president’s “dereliction of duty.”
Bernstein, whose reporting with Woodward led to crucial disclosures in the 1970s Watergate scandal, which led former President Richard Nixon to resign, made the remarks during a Wednesday interview with CNN. Woodward’s book includes several taped interviews with Trump, in which the president admitted that he intentionally downplayed the coronavirus’s threat to the American people and that he understood it was more deadly than the common flu, despite suggesting the opposite in public.
“It’s up to Republicans especially to counter that lie,” Bernstein told CNN. “At this point, if the Republican leadership—McConnell, McCarthy and others—try to contradict this obvious grave dereliction of duty by the president of the United States that is captured on tape, they too are responsible for what has happened here.”
Bernstein described Trump’s actions as “homicidal negligence.”
“Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives because the president put his own re-election interest [first],” he said. “As we hear on the tapes and see throughout Bob’s book that he is putting his own narrow presidential re-election efforts in front of the safety, health and well-being of the people of the United States.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is accusing President Trump of committing “reckless homicide” after it was revealed that Trump publicly downplayed the coronavirus threat while privately acknowledging its seriousness to journalist Bob Woodward.
“Having read more of the excerpts in the Woodward book where @realDonaldTrump is on tape, I’ve concluded this is not just dereliction of duty by @POTUS,” Lieu, an outspoken Trump critic, tweeted on Wednesday, referencing Woodward’s soon-to-be released book, “Rage.”
“Trump repeatedly lied to the American people and that resulted in preventable deaths,” Lieu added. “This is reckless homicide.”
Gen. Jim Mattis, Mr. Trump’s former defense secretary, is quoted describing Mr. Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit” for the presidency in a conversation with Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence at the time. Mr. Coats himself was haunted by the president’s Twitter feed and believed that Mr. Trump’s gentle approach to Russia reflected something more sinister, perhaps that Moscow had “something” on the president.
“Maybe at some point we’re going to have to stand up and speak out,” Mr. Mattis told Mr. Coats in May 2019, according to the book. “There may be a time when we have to take collective action.”
Ultimately neither official spoke out.
Mr. Woodward quoted Mr. Trump denigrating senior American military officials to his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, during a 2017 meeting.
“They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” the president said.
And in a discussion with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Trump called the U.S. military “suckers” for paying extensive costs to protect South Korea. Mr. Woodward wrote that he was stunned when the president said of South Korea, “We’re defending you, we’re allowing you to exist.”
Mr. Woodward also reports that Mr. Trump chewed out Mr. Coats after a briefing with reporters about the threat that Russia presented to the nation’s elections systems. Mr. Coats had gone further than he and the president had discussed beforehand.
During their conversations, Trump told Woodward about a new nuclear program that Woodward says he later asked anonymous officials about. The officials were surprised to learn Trump disclosed the program to the journalist, according to The Post and CNN.
“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,” Trump told Woodward, according to the outlets. “We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.”
Woodward said other unnamed sources confirmed the program’s existence, though details on it are not included.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis prayed about the fate of the USA under Trump, Woodward writes. Mattis told former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that Trump was “dangerous” and “unfit,” with “no moral compass.” Coats said Trump was incapable of telling “the difference between truth and a lie.”
“There may come a time when we have to take collective action,” Mattis told Coats, according to Woodward.
Mattis reportedly told Coats he resigned after Trump announced he was pulling U.S. troops out of Syria because “I was basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid.”
During his tenure, Coats repeatedly rebuffed Trump’s efforts to downplay the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to sway the 2016 election in his favor. According to Woodward, Coats is still suspicious about the nature of Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.