Monday, June 12, 2017

One Trump shrug said more than all his lies

Sen. Richard Burr: "Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?"

Former FBI director James Comey: "None."

It was the kind of question you'd expect someone concerned about national security and the state of our elections to ask the man who ran the FBI until recently.

It was the kind of question you'd expect most Americans to ask. It was the first question asked last week as Comey faced inquisitors in the Senate.

What did Donald Trump ask Jim Comey when he had the opportunity?

Whatever was discussed – and Comey kept meticulous notes – we can rest assured that Russia's assault on our democracy wasn't it.

Yeah, what's with that?

Whatever the Russians have done, it has never seemed to bother the man. In one of the debates, he shrugged it all off -- said such cyber activities might be the work of "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

Curious -- that Trump would show so little curiosity, make that none whatsoever, about activities by a foreign power that seemingly would alarm anyone who pledges allegiance to our flag.

Unlike Trump and his hear-no-evil, see-no-evil supporters, Burr, a Republican, and Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, are actually inquisitive.

Reacting to a report by the news organization The Intercept about Russian attempts to hack into state elections systems, Warner, Burr's co-chair on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "The extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported so far."

This includes the reported attempted hacking of elections infrastructure by the Russian cyber espionage group known as Fancy Bear in several states, the threat so serious that the Arizona secretary of state shut down the state's voter registration system for a week.

Not curious about that, President Trump?

It is a very grave matter that Trump would attempt to call off the dogs on Mike Flynn. It's very serious that a private citizen named Jared Kushner would meet with Russians in Trump Tower and attempt to set up a secret back channel to Vladimir Putin. (All, of course, without the direction of his father-in-law.)

That's damn serious, possibly criminal. However, I can't think of anything more incriminating than a man who assumes the presidency and shrugs off facts about the mounting evidence that outside forces tried everything possible to undermine the system of self-governance for which countless Americans fought and died dating back to this nation's inception.

Yes, shrug at that. Dismiss that.

Speaking of lack of curiosity, it's telling that Trump and his supporters respond to this claim by saying: Even if the Russians tried to mess up the elections, there's no evidence that they changed vote totals.

That's beside the point.

What Russia attempted, if the FBI is right, was an assault on the American system that really has no equal this side of bombs and torpedoes.

And Trump has simply shrugged it off.

The severity of the matter is why former national intelligence director James Clapper says that Watergate – the culmination of many underhanded political acts -- "pales compared to what we're confronting now."

Don't shrug, Mr. President. Despite those who last week turned to Fox News for your brand of self-medication, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 61 percent of Americans say you fired Comey for the protection of your hind end "rather than for the good of the country."

Donald Trump is a lie machine. He lies almost every time he speaks. But his biggest act of presidential immorality thus far may have been an act of silence – a conspicuous lack of outrage about what hostile foreigners tried to do to damage the system that elevated him to his present position, a system he is sworn to protect.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


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