Yes, you get what you pay for. That is why Vladimir Putin is so pleased with President Donald Trump, who refrains from ever saying anything negative about him although he is highly critical of our allies.
Putin is not so happy with the Republican led Congress, which has figured out that Putin has some unknown (and clearly unsavory) hold on Trump that is becoming clearer as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation proceeds. That is why, in a rare show of bipartisan unity, Congress overwhelmingly passed very strong sanctions on Russia … over the loud protests of the President.
Trump's admiration for Putin is nothing new. Historically, Trump the billionaire bully has gone overboard to flatter Putin the strongman dictator, tweeting back in June 2013; “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow —if so, will he become my new best friend.”
In April 2014 on Fox, Trump goes on to say about Putin: “We just left Moscow. He could not have been nicer. He was so nice and so everything. But you have to give him credit that what he’s doing for that country in terms of their world prestige is very strong.”
And about the invasion of Crimea, rightly condemned by the USA and NATO, Trump went on to indicate: “Well, he’s done an amazing job ... and so smart. When you see the riots in a country because they’re hurting the Russians, OK, ‘We’ll go and take it over.’ And he really goes step by step by step. And you have to give him a lot of credit.”
Trump stated in December 2015: "He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country" (MSNBC).
So, Mr. President, a horrible dictator is better than the democratically elected leader of the free world?
In a February Bill O’Reilly segment, when asked about Putin, Trump was filmed saying: "There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What do you think, our country's so innocent?" Thus, Trump was equating the morality of the USA and Russia ... an incredible act for any American President, especially one who wants to put ‘America first."
February was a banner month for Trump. He also stated in a 2-16-17 news conference: “And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia. President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election.” Then, why not release your tax returns, Mr. President? Is that what Mueller will find? When it is accurately reported, will it be "fake news" because you don't like the findings?
Finally, a few months ago Trump met with Putin and stated, “It’s an honor to be with you.” This is the aggressive dictator who forcibly annexed the Crimea from the Ukraine in violation of international law. It’s an honor?
Why is Trump so positive about Putin and Russia? Is it unseemly financial dealings or the salacious tape reportedly uncovered by the British MI6 secret agent, Christopher Steele (and brought to Trump’s attention by Comey before he was fired)?
Special Counsel Mueller is on the road to finding out, if he is not fired by the President because he is very competent and discovering things which might lead to the end of this administration and clearly will lead to further indictments of some of Trump’s closest allies and family members. It is up to our leaders in Congress to make sure that this investigation is completed.
In this vein, all Americans should support bipartisan bills to prevent the President from terminating the investigation. Republicans Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, in addition to Democrats Cory Booker and Christopher Coons, are working legislatively to prohibit President Trump from unilaterally terminating Mueller. Other senators have expressed concern as well about Trump’s conflict of interest.
Congress owes protection of Mueller to the American people. If Mueller is allowed to finish his investigation, tax return release or not, we will all know the facts (versus “alternate facts”) about the cozy relationship between Russia and Trump.
Jack Bernard is a former chairman of the Jasper County Republican Party and the first director of health care planning for the state of Georgia. He lives in Peachtree City; firstname.lastname@example.org.