Would Trump really dare to reward Putin for his assistance?

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Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and now the nominee to be U.S. secretary of state, with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who back in the primary season was one of the more vocal opponents of Donald Trump within the Republican Party, says that he was notified by the FBI in August that his campaign had been hacked by the Russian government.

“I do believe the Russians hacked into the (Democratic National Committee). I do believe they hacked into Podesta’s email account. They hacked into my campaign account. I do believe all the information released publicly hurt Clinton, didn’t hurt Trump,” Graham says. “But I don’t think the outcome of the election is in doubt.”

I agree with all that, including and especially that last point. Absent evidence of coordination between Trump and the Russians — and that notion isn’t as far-fetched as it ought to be — Trump is our president-elect and should be sworn into office as scheduled on Jan. 20. He won the election — maybe not fair and square, but he won it — and the Constitution contains no mechanism for do-overs or take-backs.

However, that doesn’t mean that this all goes away, as if it never happened. According to Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, “There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind. This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

The efforts were not limited to the presidential race, but extended to some of the hardest-fought House races as well. And it just doesn’t seem plausible that the United States of America would experience such an intrusion into its basic democratic functions by a foreign power and do nothing in response.

As Graham puts it:

While I applaud Graham’s sentiments, the truth is that the reverse is more likely to happen. Instead of instituting “crippling sanctions” against Russia as punishment for its meddling, Trump appears far more likely to thank Putin for his help by eliminating even existing sanctions, which as president he can do by the simple signing of an executive order.

Trump has indicated repeatedly that he is open to such a step, and his nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has been a vocal advocate of ending sanctions against Russia. It’s also worth noting that Trump surrogate and former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston is in Moscow right now, supposedly to brief U.S. businesspeople in Russia about Trump’s plans for the future.

And what might those plans be?

“Trump can look at sanctions. They’ve been in place long enough,” Kingston told NPR in an interview from Moscow. “Has the desired result been reached? He doesn’t have to abide by the Obama foreign policy. That gives him a fresh start.”

Again, it’s just astounding. After directly meddling in our internal affairs, Putin is about to experience a Christmas the likes of which he could never have dreamed.

What’s his biggest foreign-policy challenge in expanding Russian influence? NATO and its mutual-defense clause. In Trump, he now has a U.S. president who has dismissed the alliance as outdated and suggested that he might not honor the mutual-defense clause.

What’s Putin’s biggest domestic challenge? His economy, which has been wracked by sanctions imposed after his seizure of Crimea, his intrusion into Ukraine and the downing of a civilian airliner. Since 2014, the Russian ruble has lost almost half its value against the dollar, severely depressing the standard of living. But as noted above, Trump can end those sanctions with just a signature.

The question is whether Trump would dare to do so. Would the political backlash from within his own party be substantial enough to stop him? Maybe. But maybe not.

3003d0d2cec297fd7cabd1b816d0ac75Earlier this week, I noted polls showing a startling increase in Putin’s popularity among Republicans.  Since then, a new poll has been published with even stronger numbers.

According to the latest YouGov poll , 37 percent of Republicans now have a favorable impression of Putin, up from a mere 9 percent back in July 2014. Back in 2014, 51 percent of Republicans reported a “very unfavorable” impression of Putin. Today, that number has fallen to just 14 percent. Overall, Putin has a net negative rating of just 10 percentage points among Republicans.

For comparison’s sake, President Obama has a net negative rating among Republicans of 74.

yougov

That is simply stunning. What could possibly have happened in the 29 months between July 2014 and December 2016 to so dramatically change Republican attitudes toward Putin? Did the man cure cancer or something?

Until I hear a better answer, I’m left to conclude that many Republicans have become so intent on defeating their most hated enemy — aka, their fellow Americans who vote Democratic — that many are grateful for any assistance they can get, from whatever source, even if it’s a murderous Russian dictator. And ladies and gentlemen, that does not bode well for this country’s future.

It’s important to note that the Trump team has consistently denied that it had contacts with the Russian government during the campaign. It is equally worth noting that according to Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, communication with the Trump campaign had been an regular occurrence.

“There were contacts,” Ryabkov told Interfax, a Russian news agency. “We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign.”

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage. Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions,” he said. “I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”

And let’s not forget that early last summer, well before the leaking of emails from the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Trump’s people quietly altered the Republican national platform so that it opposed sending weapons to a Ukraine government trying to defend itself from Putin.

Nobody understood that at the time. Maybe, if Congress dares to launch an honest investigation, we will understand it a little bit better in the future.

 

Reader Comments 0

1439 comments
rimsky
rimsky

 U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to influence the election by hacking people and institutions, including Democratic Party bodies, has angered President-elect Trump, who says he won the Nov. 8 vote fairly. Russian officials have denied accusations of interference in the U.S. election.

This really bothers the "baby hands" Trump.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

 Obama was the most anti-business, anti-growth president since FDR.


And yet for corporate America and a certain subset of our population the economy has been going gangbusters! Go figure.

JDinMarietta
JDinMarietta

Graham is a RINO and the good people of SC need to vote this career politician out of office. He's a loser

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Obama was the most anti-business, anti-growth president since FDR.

-

Where do you even begin with blithering stupidity on this level? 

KUTGF
KUTGF

What does it say about the most self-serving, lying and conflicted President (elect) in modern history that he apparently is one of at least 2 people in the world who can actually get all the evidence held by the intelligence services and he cannot come before the US and say "I have looked at the evidence and I have concluded differently than President Obama."  Trump clownishly denies any certainty about hacking but the intelligence services are certain according to reports. 

Our RWers will continue their path of destruction, in NC and in this country of putting themselves first over democracy.  I say this in all honesty, they are truly the enemies of democracy with their actions to suppress votes, to change the powers of those who govern when they are not in charge, to turn this into a police state by attacking peaceful protestors and more. 

We must continue to resist.

Here's_to_Blue
Here's_to_Blue

PaulinNH 2 minutes ago

@Eye wonder  A good read.  The money quote: 

America is an idea. Strip freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law from what the United States represents to the world and America itself is gutted.

--------------

I've maintained for years that today's Republicans have the whole idea backward, like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.  The heart of the American idea is not capitalism, which is only the financial expression of self-governance.  The heart of the idea is that each person has worth and freedom and has a say-so in how the country is run.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@RandroidWillBoy 

Someone who posts the same anti opposition rants and insults 24/7 citing nothing original?

That reminds me of someone who posted Hillary is a liar about a dozen or so times a day.

Just sayin'.

TBS
TBS

An evident difference in how to run the Nation...

Bush left office: 7950. Dow Jones

What was that about differences?

Stock market alone is a weak indicator but I really don't think you want to play the market game as it pertains to who is in the WH..

You really don't

We can look back at history if you are interested

Not going to be a winning hand for you but we can play out the hand if you like

Let me and we can both commence to posting market stats under D and R administrations

TBS
TBS

Let me know ...

rimsky
rimsky

@TBS Average pay raise, unemployment, etc. are the true gauge of the health of the economy.

Dow is measure of how the rich crooks are doing.

TBS
TBS

Dow measures more than that but in and of itself it's not that great of an indicator

But I've put out that challenge now to two separate conservative bloggers who were hyping the market .. you guessed it, neither one wanted to look at the comparisons

Why? Because they know the answer in spite of all the talk

TBS
TBS

Again the Dow is not an overall good indicator

But if you want to play that D vs R game as some on the right (yes some on the left have been doing under Obama) seem to want to play I'm ready if you are

And I'm not just talking the Dow under Obama which yes has been propelled by cheap money

I'm talking much further back than that

Many variables going into the market rise or decline and those variables are not constant

I'd argue that it's much much more than D or R but some think that's the main force

I'm challenging those who think it is the main force or at least their comments indicate that to a comparison.

I'm willing to look at the numbers based on their criteria yet when asked to compare they don't want to play the hand any longer

Kamchak
Kamchak

I see a lot of market watchers already giving credit to Trump for the rise in the DJIA.

Who are they gonna blame when it tanks?

honested
honested

@JohnnyReb @Kamchak 

Well, russian hacking will have definitely set the stage for the disaster, but the responsibility will be on the backs of the various deplorables!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

An evident difference in how to run the Nation.

The stock market may hit 20K today.

Even if it does not, it has been steadily climbing since Trump was elected.

During the Obama administration, the market grew because of his and the Fed's policy where they pumped printed money into the economy - quantitative easing, and kept the interest rate at zero or near zero.

Now and despite the Fed raising interest rates, the enthusiasm of the Trump administration of growth, lower taxes especially on businesses, removing strangling regulations and Obamacare, is boosting the economy even before Trump is in office.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@PaulinNH @JohnnyReb It's a fact.

You might as well admit it.

Or will you be one of those that when the economy is booming you will claim it's because what Obama handed Trump?

Rumor is, Jay already has a draft to that effect.

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

Obama was the most anti-business, anti-growth president since FDR.

Had he entered office and done NOTHING, we'd be in much better shape already. His radical policies held us back for the last eight years.

Kamchak
Kamchak

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/310695-trump-thanks-black-voters-who-didnt-come-out-to-vote-for


Trump thanks black voters who 'didn’t come out to vote for Hillary'

“And you know what else?” he said. “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. So thank you to the African American community.”

“Thank you to the Hispanic community,” he added.

At another rally last week, Trump similarly touted that it was good for him that black voters didn't turn out at the polls.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Kamchak so you prefer he ignore the obvious?

Never satisfied are you.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@JohnnyReb 

so you prefer he ignore the obvious?

I didn't say that.

I want to use this as a reminder whenever you cons start yammering on and on about liberals and identity politics.

Menace
Menace

@Kamchak @JohnnyReb  IT won't stop his drivel.  I've learned to tune his curd out.  Probably a Liverstool fan.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Menace 

Have I mentioned lately how ecstatic I am now that The Special One is no longer at The Bridge?

Menace
Menace

@Kamchak @Menace  Every chance you get.  At least he's not at ATL United.  Hear we might be going after Brad Guzan.  Cool!

honested
honested

@PaulinNH 

The only thing missing is determination of who is the new "Goldstein" and does chump have the patience for a regular "2 minutes of hate".

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@PaulinNH

My grandfather always taught me: be humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and fair always.  Our conned could've used a guy like my grandfather when they were young bucks.

rimsky
rimsky

 US claims that Russia hacked official emails, without evidence, are "indecent", the Kremlin has said.

"They need to either stop talking about this or finally present some sort of proof," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38341569

Don't worry Putin your servant Donnie Pinko has already let us know how you feel in advance.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

The threat to Russia may be a basis

for Intel briefing for electors.

honested
honested

Another day and chump is still drawing breath so the whole world is still at risk....


This will get really old during the next 4 years.