We don’t really know whether Donald Trump was or is the Russian Manchurian candidate but he might as well be.
And this is of course old stuff by now but I was just reviewing in my own mind what the fuss is all about.
I posted something the other day that was indirectly related to the Trump/Russia thing, that is a little and incomplete history of U.S. presidential candidates working with foreign governments. Perhaps I should have mentioned that Hillary Clinton in a way sought foreign assistance when she or her campaign (someone’s campaign to me is generally the same as that someone) contracted with the private propaganda firm called Fusion GPS. Well actually that firm is headquartered in Washington D.C. But a former British spy named Christopher Steele was working for it. He wrote the famous Steele Dossier which alleged that the Russians were cultivating Donald Trump to be their man to put in the White House. The Wall Street Journal has now published an opinion piece that questions whether the Russians themselves may have been behind the dossier just to sow discord in the American election process. The piece offers no evidence just speculation.
Maybe that does not qualify as working with a foreign government on the part of Mrs. Clinton. But certainly she and her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton have worked with foreign governments through their Clinton Foundation. It is only my opinion, but to me that foundation is more about allowing the Clintons to be jet setters and keep up their political influence than anything else.
One thing that I don’t think has ever been sorted out is what a deal in which a Russian company was allowed to buy a substantial portion of the rights to uranium mining in the U.S. was all about (uranium of course used in nuclear power and weapons). Coincidentally or not this occurred in some seeming conjunction with dealings between Russians and the Clinton Foundation, which involved speaking fees for Bill Clinton — this taking place when wife Hillary was Secretary of State.
The Clintons and their defenders claim all was above board and there was no quid pro quo and that Mrs. Clinton had no direct role. And of course Trump and his gang have tried to use it for all it’s worth, such as chanting “lock her up” during the 2016 presidential campaign and even after. The facts in all of these things are always murky.
But it would be nice to have people in power who had no murky facts of foreign intrigue to explain away.
But back to Trump. While partisans argue over the accuracy and the meaning within the Mueller Report there is something that is not in dispute. Trump’s involvement in Russia goes back years. Like so many business people he was looking for opportunities there afer the fall of the old Soviet Union and Russia’s entry into the capitalist system. The Russians were freed of the yoke of communism and in return are instead under the control of the super-rich oligarchs.
One project Trump had in mind was the building of a Trump tower in Moscow. I just read he first envisioned the project when Russia was still the Soviet Union. But I imagine it became even more plausible when Russia went capitalist. Well, anyway, no project has ever got off the ground. But there is evidence (perhaps not proof) that once the Russians saw that Trump was running for president and at the same time that Mrs. Clinton was they saw a chance to cultivate Trump. They did not like Mrs. Clinton because she had said unfriendly things about Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Probably also because she had actual experience in foreign relations as secretary of state, while Trump had no experience in government or foreign relations per se and no interest in it.
One thing that has been reported is that they dangled the tower project before him and in return got some U.S. sanctions lifted, plus an awful lot of kind words and apparent glowing admiration by the American president for the dictator Putin.
I have to admit having good relations with all nations, as far as possible, is not a bad thing. But Trump seems to have love fests with your average dictator/strong man, i.e., Putin, Kim Jong-un, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia (known often as MBS), the latter of which just had 37 people executed in one day this week and who earlier ordered the killing of a journalist for one would suppose unflattering coverage. In that Arab kingdom people are not given access to legal council and the court proceedings are secret (I mean some people might be legitimately guilty of crimes, but how would you know? And of what?)
Well anyway, shady dealings seem to be something people in public life have in common with each other.
But here is a big problem. Unlike other presidents in recent history, Trump has failed to give up direct control of his business assets while serving in the White House. He made a sham presentation of essentially doing so right after his inauguration but all it was was a photo-op with a bunch on binders on the table. In reality he still has control. So he can use his power of the presidency to influence things and profit from being the president. In addition he has appointed members of his own family to government posts and they are all joined together in Trump business enterprises. If it is not illegal it certainly is unethical and immoral to use their position in government to enhance their private business or fortunes. And it would seem they might be calculating just as much or more on how policy decisions might line their own pockets rather than help the nation at large.
And Trump, unlike other modern presidents, refuses to publicly release his tax returns.
I suspect that Trump is not the Manchurian candidate. He was just a convenient target of opportunity seen as malleable to Russian interests. Also it was a sure bet that if he got into the White House he would stir up discord within our government and make us vulnerable in the face of threats from without.