By Doug Porter
This weekend people in 140+ cities will take to the streets to say facts matter. The March for Truth represents a collective demand for a thorough investigation and complete disclosure of events surrounding the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House.
This protest takes on an even greater importance in the wake of developments over the past few days.
The White House–responding to demands conveyed through quasi-state media–is prepared, according to the Washington Post, to return properties in the U.S. seized from Russia in retaliation for interference in our electoral process.
President Barack Obama said Dec. 29 that the compounds were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and gave Russia 24 hours to vacate them. Separately, Obama expelled from the United States what he said were 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.”
Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze, imposed in 2014 in retaliation for U.S. sanctions related to Ukraine, on construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg.
Two days later, the U.S. position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate, according to several people with knowledge of the exchanges.
Last week Sputnik News published an interview with Denis Gonchar, Minister-Counselor of the Russian Embassy in the U.S. discussing the properties in question:
“The Russian side did not deliberately take retaliatory measures, realizing that the US actions were dictated by the petty desire of the Obama administration to slam the door louder before leaving the political arena and lay another mine under the already shattered foundation of bilateral relations so that it ricochets to the newly elected US authorities,” he said.
“We hope that we will be able to resolve the situation in a constructive way,” Gonchar stated. “Otherwise, we will have to take counter measures against American diplomatic property in Russia, according to the principle of reciprocity. The US side has been notifies (sic) about what the measures could be, but it was not our choice.”
President Vladimir Putin has backed off of previous denials of Russian involvement in US politics, saying “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.
RFL putin jpg
From the New York Times:
While Mr. Putin continued to deny any state role, his comments to reporters in St. Petersburg were a departure from the Kremlin’s previous position: that Russia had played no role whatsoever in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and that, after Mr. Trump’s victory, the country had become the victim of anti-Russia hysteria among crestfallen Democrats.
Raising the possibility of attacks by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots, Mr. Putin said that hackers “are like artists” who choose their targets depending how they feel “when they wake up in the morning…”
The article concludes (emphasis mine):
The evolution of Russia’s position on possible meddling in the American election is similar to the way Mr. Putin repeatedly shifted his account of Russia’s role in the 2014 annexation of Crimea and in armed rebellions in eastern Ukraine: He began by categorically denying that Russian troops had taken part before acknowledging, months later, that the Russian military was “of course” involved.
Vladimir Putin couldn’t have asked for more. MSNBC’s Joy Reid posted a twitterstorm on Wednesday covering her observations about Trump-Russia.
Rather than make you read through all the frames, I’ve just stripped it down to the words she conveyed in the last four tweets:
– Which begs the question @jonathanalter asked tonight: do the Russians have something on Trump to make him do these things?
-Because no American president has ever acted this way – with such seemingly reflexive obedience to a foreign power.
-Throw in the coming withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, and the shattering of the Western alliance looks more and more possible.
-Vladimir Putin couldn’t have asked for more. God only knows what Trump will give him next.
Nixon had the Watergate. Trump has the Mayflower. I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the revelations on Trump-Russia appearing in the press. This item just came in, via Raw Story:
The FBI is investigating whether President Donald Trump had an undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a campaign event last year.
Five current and former U.S. officials tell NBC News that “they are aware of classified intelligence suggesting there was some sort of private encounter between Trump and his aides and the Russian envoy” last April at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Trump, officials believe that the intelligence shows that then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner were also at the meeting.
Trump. Russia. Putin. Three words at the heart of an emergency for the citizens of the United States of America. This isn’t about ideology. It’s about profiting from an atmosphere of chaos.
At its most basic form, this crisis is about an unholy alliance of oligarchs agreeing to cooperate against their own people in a quest for greater wealth. They have exploited unlying divisions in our country created as a byproduct of more than three decades of the deification of individual gain at the expense of the common good.
Given the now overwhelming evidence of Russian involvement, apologists are now pushing the lines saying investigations are a distraction (lefties) or an attempt to explain away Clinton’s November defeat (righties).
There is an element of truth in both assertions. The larger truth is that you can’t ignore the assault in progress on basic American values and who the beneficiaries of this degradation of the Republic are.
The real distraction going on is the hyperbole coming from the conspiracists–mostly on social media– who seem to think their latest revelation will be the one causing the Trump administration to fold. Please folks: Breaking news only causes change in the movies.
The most recent example of this kind of crap has been the pants-on-fire assertions about an almost overnight multi-million surge in the number of Trump followers on Twitter. The assumption was that these new fans were actually automated profiles known as “bots.”
As Snopes and other media outlets with a basic knowledge of search engines quickly discovered, this story has two elements. The part about the surge is false.
Trump (who has only slightly more than one-third of the follows than Barack Obama) has seen a steady increase since the inauguration. The part about the “bots” has some validity–only 51% of Trump’s followers appear to be human.
This hasn’t stopped various tinfoil hat types from warning about an upcoming war coming via social media.
Although many of Trump’s new followers do appear to be fake accounts that do not belong to actual people, the phenomenon is not specific to him. Recent followers to accounts like Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and even CNN Breaking News that have larger followings seem to be experiencing the same pattern.
Nonetheless, the path towards correcting this abomination starts with defending what’s left of our Democracy from manipulation. And that starts with what’s right in front us.
Sarah Kendzior, puts her academic background in studying authoritarian states in explaining why Russian involvement matters in Marie Claire:**.
…what’s good for Trump and his inner circle may be good for Russia, and vice-versa—but it’s not good for ordinary Americans or Russians.
As a hyper-capitalist, authoritarian state dominated by sleazy oligarchs and corrupt officials, Russia suppresses free speech, independent media, public protests, and brutally persecutes marginalized groups like LGBT citizens, Muslims, and migrant laborers.
When not busy repressing its own people, the Kremlin tries to repress citizens of other states, both militarily (as in Ukraine) and through media manipulation. It is not, in other words, a government whose ideals we want to align with or empower.
That’s what’s most disconcerting about the Russian interference scandal: It’s the possibility that worst elements in each of our governments could collaborate secretly against the welfare of citizens. It’s an affront to sovereignty and to humane governance.
As an American, you should care about that.
**If there’s a silver lining to be had in the era of Trump it’s been the emergence of excellent political reporting and analysis by women in women’s magazines.
Additional Resources: In the interests of writing something short enough so people will actually read it, I have left out massive amounts of detail on Trump-Russia
- Matthew Yglesias has a list of 33 Questions About Donald Trump and Russia he’d like answered at Vox.
- Greg Fish at Rantt has From Russia With Context: Everything You Need To Know About Trump-Russia, a compilation of detail-rich articles.
- Mother Jones has published Hacker, Banker, Soldier, Spy: A Guide to the Key Players in the Trump-Russia Scandal
Finally, here’s Nick Knudsen, writing at the Huffington Post about the March for Truth (local info here):
On June 3rd, Americans will gather to scream out with a common voice: we, the people, demand and deserve answers. The goals for the March for Truth are specific and reasonable:
- An independent commission must be established to investigate the election hacking, and Congressional investigations must be properly resourced and pursued free of partisan interests;
- Congress must require Donald Trump to release his tax returns to clarify his business interests and obligations to any foreign entity;
- As much information as possible must be made available to the public, and as soon as possible;
- If crimes were committed or if collusion is discovered, it must be prosecuted.
Notice that organizers aren’t demanding impeachment. Or removal for office. Or tar-and-feathering. Because this is a nation of laws and due process. We instead demand that Congress and the Department of Justice do their jobs to assertively uncover facts and share them with the American people. We demand information. We demand truth. We demand justice.
March for Truth – San Diego
March for Truth – North County
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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