Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

He either believes Putin’s denials, or more likely, is afraid of what the Russians have on him.

Comments: 219

  1. It was hurting us before he ever set foot in the White House as president. He has proven to be incapable of setting aside his grudges, his addiction to Twitter, and his assumption that running a country is like running a business. The GOP is damaging America far more than Trump. They supported him, they cover for him, and they are enabling him because each time he does or says something outrageous it's on the front "page" of every news broadcasting medium in America while what they are doing, which the complete dismemberment of working class America, is flying under the radar. For them Trump is a dream come true. The combination of a GOP controlled Congress and a Trump White House with an incompetent cabinet is going to accomplish for our enemies what 9/11 did not. Who knew that America could be driven into the ground by a failed businessman who wasn't elected by popular vote? Who knew that the GOP would support him simply because it meant that they could satisfy their donor class? Trump is not presidential and never will be. McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of them should be removed from office for what they have done. We need adults running the country not a 71-year-old baby and his enablers.

  2. If all of this is true, we are doomed. Is there a set of plausible set circumstances that can sever the link between Trump, who has little support of his own, and the GOP, which is firmly lodged in power? ('Plausible' does not mean 'Democrats take over everything later this year.')

  3. Perfectly stated. I suspect Trump was surprised he was elected and should not be where he is; that is why he’s been obsessed with defending his legitimacy. But it is the venality and cowardice of Republican “leaders” that is degrading the foundations of our democracy, creating a de facto class system and eroding any hope at a secure future for working families. Won’t even start on environment.

  4. To hen3ry: "The combination of a GOP controlled Congress and a Trump White House with an incompetent cabinet is going to accomplish for our enemies what 9/11 did not ." Very powerful, as is the rest of your comment. "America driven into the ground by a failed businessman" ...and by a complicit Congress. Great post.

  5. Yes, it is clear that he is either guilty or supremely foolish. It is also clear that the Republicans in Congress are more concerned with holding power than with principled governance. The quicksand of collusion has entrapped the only people in a position to end the disaster and danger of the Trump administration.

  6. And what power will they really hold when the Oligarchs of the world take over this country? The only billionaire member of Congress that I'm aware of is McConnell. And isn't it interesting that his wife is Secretary of Transportation. The way that Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs became billionaires is by being able to take over the businesses they were running as Communist bureaucrats before the changes in government. They were running them and all of a sudden they owned them. Could Elaine Chao, a naturalized American with possibly dual citizenship be able to become the owner of American highways?

  7. This is the King of Lies His lies pile up like Pies He’s guilty of Treason We all know the reason All normality he defies. How do we impeach his deceit? With new lies he’s always replete, Slipp’ry as an eel When caught will appeal, The Congress? Abject at his feet.

  8. you used a word that, despite all the evidence revealed here and elsewhere no one else seems to have had the stomach to use. TREASON. Think about the consequences of that word. I think in the back of our minds all of us are moving towards that conclusion, or we should be.

  9. Having felt scared since Trump's election, I'm downright terrified now. Tom Friedman nails it. Donald Trump is hellbent on destroying this country to save his own hide. There can be no other explanation--he's terrified of something, clearly something he thought he could easily get away with. Or, maybe, he just never expected to win. Whatever it is, the ground has shifted. His nonchalance about Robert Mueller's indictments since Friday, combined with a mounting fury revealed in the the number and tone of his tweets, are both equally frightening. This country is rudderless, leaderless, and hurtling down a ravine. The president's behavior and escalating fury are bringing us to the point so many fear--that he might not be able to be restrained much longer. From what, you ask? Use your imaginations. I'm using mine, and it's horrific.

  10. "Or, maybe, he just never expected to win." I agree with you 100% that he's been compromised and that he's absolutely terrified of what the Russians might do to him or his family if he doesn't fulfill their wishes. (Sergey Kislyak's visit to the Oval Office is an indication of just how much pull the Russians have.) For some strange reason I also think that by the end of the campaign Trump was doing his best to actually lose the election and that's why he looked so stunned when he won. Day after day he kept saying, and still does, things that would have easily ended any other candidates campaign and sent them to a certain defeat but for Trump they further cemented his base. Whatever "kompromat" the Russians have is pretty serious that's for sure.

  11. Very well put... this country is "rudderless, leaderless and hurtling down a ravine." Forget Trump for a moment, where is our Democratic leadership? As frustrated and angry as I am with Trump and the Republican Party, I nearly feel the same about our Congressional Democrats. Their complacency sickens me. A two party system should balance each other to some degree. I see no boldness or energy in the Democratic Party that "balances" the extremism of Trump and the Republicans.

  12. @Matt Attack: yes, you nailed it too. This is why I'm so frightened--if what he's done is as serious as I think it is--possibly treasonous--then, of course he's scared not only of jail but his own precious "image." And when we see these 13 or so tweets, some so outrageous that they prompted severe reactions from Florida teens in Parkland, you see how very very unhinged he's becoming over all this. And the main reason I'm so scared is if his enablers continue to ignore it, and if his advisers can't restrain him, he's capable of taking the entire country down--war is the first thought, but there are other things like attempting a coup to fire Mueller and end the investigation. It's at that point that we're in uncharted territory, not that we're not already there already.

  13. Hurting us as much as Trump, is the Republicans refusal to see, hear , or speak the evil. Our country has been in danger from media outlets like Fox that deny, distort and misrepresent facts. Our country has been in danger since McConnell declared utter defiance and disregard for President Obama's term, and the Koch brothers money buoyed his continued efforts. Our country was in danger when the Cheney cabal fabricated a reason to go to war at an untold and unacceptable cost. Elections have consequences, and they can be much worse than those of the past.

  14. The consequences can be much worse than we ever imagined. Remember 8 or 9 months ago when various pundits would opine that the republican party,, McConnel, Ryan et. al. had finally had enough and would start showing some responsibility. What a laugh. And what a heartbreak.

  15. It's not just Fox. CNN pushed the same "both sides are bad and America is angry" routine that typified the Russian/GOP campaign. MSNBC pushed Bernie long after he was mathematically eliminated, and played his criticism of Hillary on a loop while cutting away of he went after Trump. Meet The Press has on 3 Republicans for every Democrat week after week. This week, Face The Nation brought on SIX Republicans. SIX !! I'm surprised they didn't bring in Devin Nunes to moderate the panel discussion. And let's not forget the Times, who was the prime leaker of information coming out of the Hillary "investigation". None of them have clean hands in this mess.

  16. Truth and very scary truth at that.

  17. Trump supports Russia and Putin more than he supports America and the American people. Famous words from decades hold true today, "Follow the Money." No America bank would have ever loaned Trump money after five bankruptcies. It had to be the Russians. Follow the Money and end this nightmare.

  18. Among the oligarchs on 5 continents there are none who favor identified bank exchanges. Bank secrecy itself is a lever on power; whoever follows the hidden money trails is faced with the decision of how to use what is found. Blackmail influence, financial ruin, suborning perjury and graft...the wagging of the money trail invites careful forethought. It's all secrecy and no privacy, unless you are in the 1%, in which case the lack of privacy can be forestalled and repurchased. Solid evidence points to Deutschebank facilitating unmarked loans for Trump & Sons, from principals in Moscow.

  19. I'll bet that is exactly what Mr. Mueller is doing. Just tune in for the next episode.

  20. Indeed, it is his own cupidity that drove him and still does. But at this point, the ONLY way out is to vote his enablers out.

  21. Tom, you wrote: "President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy." and... "It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it." Bullseye. Brilliant job of summarizing what Trump is likely up to - and what his exposure likely is.

  22. Yes, yes, but in this hour of real peril where is the opposition? We cant rely only on the press, night time chat show hosts and comedians. 'Cometh the hour cometh the (wo)man'. Who is the emergent strong leader who can shape public opinion and turn the hearts and minds of even Trump supporters?

  23. He does not want to be seen as a guy whose whole worth actually belongs to someone else. (Dad, for instance, to begin with!)

  24. "All politics is local," as Tip O'Neal said years ago. Support and vote for Democrats in every single state and local election.

  25. Many of us out here in commenter land have been pushing the money aspect as the root of Trump's behavior. We were working on what appeared to be most obvious. Now with the Mueller indictments, appearances are turning into hard reality. What has Trump always been about? Trump. How does Trump inflate himself? By acquiring wealth and assets. Does Trump have a history of nefarious financial activities? Yes. Does Trump and his associates have a history of doing business with Russians? Yes. Does Trump conceal his financial dealings? Yes. Does Trump chum around with Russians? Yes. Does Trump defend Russians. Yes. Does Trump blame everyone else for everything related to the Russians? Yes. Does Trump attack our own law enforcement agencies that are investigating the Russians? Yes. Have Trump campaign people been indicted and made plea deals? Yes. Does Trump continue to defend Russia in spite of the Mueller indictment? Yes. Has Trump or his people committed acts of treason? Quite possibly. Will the GOP led Congress impeach if criminal offenses are established? Never happen. That's why our democracy is in danger. No matter what Trump has done, the GOP congress wont do anything about it. And to top it off, about 35 to maybe even 40% of the nation will dismiss any confirmed wrong doing as fake news. The security of our nation now hangs in the balance of the 2018 elections. It's that bad.

  26. Let's add to the list: Will our Congressional Democrats boldly and aggressively pursue any of these allegations against Trump? Unlikely. It's been over a year, and they have done little to nothing.

  27. We have GOT to return to the Fairness Doctrine. Limit how many parts of the media market any one owner can have, make the airwaves (and all their updated equivalents) again for the public good. Ronald Reagan threw it out in order to benefit his old friend--one Rupert Murdoch.

  28. America is not the nation that fought the British Lion to its knees, stepped in to win WWI, brought the brawn to join Russian blood and British brains, to win WW II. We need a new, younger generation of inspired and eloquent leaders to expel the corrupt Republicans and bumbling Democrats and restore our greatness in a sense Trump doesn't understand. It seems only NE, a few midwestern states and West Coast Americans are willing to act like our ancestors. Trump would be torn to shreds in a living room, in our living room in Worthington, MA.

  29. Can anyone imagine this happening during a Democratic presidency without the GOP piling on and trying to decide whether the appropriate response is impeachment or a firing squad? The FBI and Trump's own homeland security advisors tell us that the Russians intruded in our elections and, still, The Donald continues to deny it. Who does he need to hear from: God? And his congressional enablers and the 35% of America that can't bring itself to believe that The Donald can ever possibly be wrong about anything? I guess they're torn between thinking that Russians didn't really tamper with our elections (perhaps they just got lost somewhere between Moscow and Mars) and thinking that, in the end, it just doesn't matter because they ended up with the President they always wanted. Either way, it looks as though all the time and money we spent winning the Cold War was a complete waste.

  30. The analogy is wrong. This is happening during a Republican presidency and Democrats are piling on to impeach (and rightly so). If this happened during a Democratic presidency, certainly Republicans would clamor for impeachment, as Stu Freeman says. But we can only hope (but are we sure?) that Democrats would do so as well.

  31. Yeah, why aren’t the Democrats piling on and trying to decide whether the appropriate response is impeachment or the firing squad. As long as the Democrats remain feckless and toothless in their opposition to the Donald and his Republican enablers, it will largely remain a coin flip as to whether political change will occur. And, if the Democrats can’t find new and considerably younger, charismatic standard bearers this present political state of affairs will, I fear, remain unchanged.

  32. Trump IS God and he keeps hearing himself telling himself there was no collusion. And very much like God, Trump needs to be endlessly worshipped, praised and see his name on buildings everywhere. The only difference between them is that God has better hair.

  33. It's time for Trump to just say: "Because of business connections with Russia I am not able to faithfully discharge my oath of office. I am therefore resigning my office, in the best interest of my country." Face-saving is always part of exit negotiation. This seems the most direct path and will undoubtedly be a great relief to most citizens of the United States, and even to Trump's family.

  34. To be delivered, in person, during the week of Mr. Washington's birthday. How perfectly poignant!

  35. If Congress wants to help, passing the Presidential Tax Transparency Act and the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act would expedite matters. These bills (H.R. 305 and 371 with companions S.26 and 65) were introduced last year and have gone nowhere.

  36. how well said. smart. thank you!

  37. Code red as in code red state Republistan's refusal to lift a finger to defend the country and the Constitution from a foreign enemy attack and from Daycare Donnie's attention deficit disorder and Presidential inferiority complex. Donald's only observation to a an attack on America ? "Look ma'......no collusion !" It never occurs to Donald that there may be something more significant in the world than his own sick ego.....as the Grand Old Putinista party shrugs and serves some more fresh tax-cut cream-cheese-chocolate truffles to America's oligarchs. Sure, endless tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires are impressive, Russian-Republicans, but are they really worth flushing your country down a Trump Treason Toilet ? "Yes, they're worth it" - shout the Russian-Republicans - "oligarchy is our God-given right...if the Russians can have a corrupt winner-take-all oligarchy, then we'll be damned if American can't have one, too." Meanwhile, the good Robert Mueller is only getting started; there's plenty more evidence and indictments to come, so there's hope for collusion yet, Donnie....be patient, little squirt. In the meantime, Donald Trump, his Russian-Republican Congress and the 35% of deranged voters who still support President Benedict Arnold need to show their true patriotism and raise the Russian flag outside their homes, replace the American flag on their suit lapels with a Russian flag, and celebrate their newfound dual citizenships. Grand Old Patriots: GOP 2018

  38. Actually, Arnold was for the most part a patriot, much more so than Trump. Also a lot more intelligent, principled and articulate.

  39. Kudos for the Benedict Arnold connection. It occurs to me that perhaps the only people who may benefit from Trump's tenure are Benedict's descendants - because his name will be replaced in history by "like a Donald Trump" as a shorthand for "traitor."

  40. Socrates, your words are extremely kind, in my opinion.

  41. This past Friday evening, listening to a television news host, I was most surprised to feel my eyes well up with tears when I listened to the host say that finally, after all of this time, there is someone who is standing up for us: Robert Mueller III.

  42. I felt the same tears of surprise. I wasn't expecting that. But glad I still feel patriotism and such deep gratitude for RM III.

  43. Yes, I had the same reaction. That host was Rachel Maddow and she has spent more than a year connecting the dots (sometimes in excruciating detail!) so the rest of us stood a chance of understanding the facts. You couldn't help but hear in her voice and see her facial reaction to know her relief was visceral. On Friday, Mueller provided all of us some light at the end of tunnel and we're a little less fearful that it is another train coming at us!

  44. I was listening to the same, Robert, and had the same tears. Mr. Mueller is saving our institutions, he would probably be the last one to think so, so humbly a devoted public servant.

  45. Something is rotten in the Trump administration. The defensiveness of President Trump in response to every step of the Russian investigation, be it with Comey or Mueller, both Republicans, is turning into outright hysteria by Trump. Go ahead and turn on Trump's state TV, Fox News, and see what lies they're peddling. I did today and watched with my jaw on the floor. Why is Fox News lying about the Russian investigation in the style of, "nothing to see, move along?" Why are they aiding and abetting Trump? What's Murdoch's role? Why are Ryan, McConnell and the Republican Congress aiding and abetting Trump? Why is Trump not implementing sanctions against the Russians, which the Senate passed overwhelmingly 98 to 2 last July, sanctions he didn't want to sign, but finally did in August after a fit, and in private? Why hasn't he acted on those Russian sanctions, 7 months after signing that bill? Why is he lying now about running for president, when he applied for a patent, as filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on November 11, 2012, application TRMP 1207224: MARK: MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN APPLICANT: Donald J. Trump ADDRESS: 725 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10022 ENTITY: A US citizen The application said the phrase was to be used for “political action committee service, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics.” It was signed by Trump. What are you so afraid of, Trump? You're not taking us down with you.

  46. Great catch on that patent filing. That puts Trump's decision ahead of Russia's decision to interfere in our election.

  47. Yes, pretty neat that he pointed to the 2014 date as long, long before! I think we can take any flag he waves like that as a kind of pointer to yet another lie. Not only had he thought of it, he got a patent! Priceless!

  48. It is indeed scary to think that a substantial part of our population will continue to choose to interpret this all entirely through the lens provided by Fox News. It leads to the interesting thought experiment of how long this presidency would last if Fox turned on it. That line of thinking leads to another question that may not have been asked deeply enough: why has Fox so steadfastly chosen the role of fawning and pugnacious supporters and, when circumstances are so blindingly obvious they don't permit anything else, vigorous agents of obfuscation and misdirection? Are they really just basking in giving their viewers the fictions that keep them tuning in, maintaining their egos and their advertising revenue?

  49. Only we, the voters, ultimately can save this country. Not just "we democrats", but We the People, who treasure the blessing of a constitutional republic, ruled by law, where no man is above the law. It will not be easy. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, and Russia's continued interference in 2018 make it essential that voter turnout hits record numbers. We are not helpless, at least not for long. We the People have the deciding vote, quite literally, to decide in which direction we go forward.

  50. Yes, voter turnout is extremely important in this coming mid-term. Unfortunately it doesn't matter in the general election where a candidate with the minority of the vote wins because of the completely antiquated electoral college.

  51. Jonathan Rodgers: Far more important than Russia's contribution is the right-wing fear-hate radio-TV complex, led by Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and other extremist billionaire operations.

  52. Contact your Secretary of State and ask what they are doing to protect the elections - primary and general. Better yet, ask your local news media to do it. Get it on the record. Then get involved in the primaries. In deep red states, the election is over at the primaries. Get less extreme candidates on the ballot instead of the zealots. We've got to build the middle and take control. Our current slate of elected officials are AWOL for some reason.

  53. Effective leaders are curious and ask questions to better understand an issue and apply focus to the priorities that are in the best interest of their organization. We have someone in office who does neither. Instead of asking questions, accusations are made and defenses quickly mounted with little introspection. Instead of focusing on the priorities of the nation, the priority has been turn inward, helping no one. In the absence of leadership from Washington, D.C, let the rest of us fill the void for the good of all Americans. Only then will we have the last laugh.

  54. When you said "effective leadership", were you talking about the Senate and House Majority Leaders? Both with overwhelming majorities? Allegedly both thoughtful, intelligent, patriotic Americans? I get it that Trump is not a leader but its not like he's the only guy in Washington.

  55. Whether Trump has that intellectual capacity, we will never know. What we know is that we have a psychically damaged man who would do serious harm as a small town mayor. With apologies to small towns, I wish that is what all he was.

  56. Yes all he does is tweet and act like a 2 year old.

  57. Seems to me that if Trump were compromised enough (doubtful), then Putin had better watch how far he pushes it, as, if proven by Mueller, this IS something that could precipitate a forced resignation to avoid impeachment. If that were to happen, we’d get Pence, who in reaction probably would roll out pretty serious guns – certainly at least to the tune of dramatically more serious sanctions than Congress passed not long ago. If it were done before the RUSSIAN presidential election that kicks off soon, it could inconvenience Putin by requiring that he put together a FAR more sophisticated steal-an-election effort. Frankly, I believe that the impression Trump creates that he has something to hide that has attracted the suspicions of so many, including Tom, is actually due to the implication that if Russia seriously affected the 2016 election results, it means that Trump owes his occupancy of the White House not to his own incandescence and large hands but to Putin – who had his own reasons for wanting to embarrass Obama and damage HRC that had nothing to do with Trump – despite the fact that I believe it was Comey who shot down HRC far more than Putin’s goons were capable of doing. One can rationally argue that if Trump is SO narcissistic that he can’t accept that his election was in fact the miracle of this young century on the merits that he’s willing to ignore Russia’s obvious interference, then he should resign anyway; but don’t look for it to happen for that reason.

  58. Yet all Mueller has proven so far is that Russia sought to interfere in our election – which we already knew, despite Trump’s hesitancy in accepting the injuries to his pride -- and that Manafort MAY have laundered money long before he knew Trump or had anything to do with the campaign. That may be all he has, and it may not – we’ll see. What we do know is that a lot of armchair presidents believe we should be doing something apocalyptic about Russia, when Trump has been arguably effective in Syria generally and with ISIS specifically, is pressing Kim Jong-un on his own behavior, has gotten Europeans to finally start talking about paying to defend THEMSELVES, is rattling Palestinian cages in the brinkman’s hope of causing movement with Israel, and his own trade organizations are talking about penalizing Russia’s metals imports. You may not like Trump, but a lot of Americans strongly support these actions of a president and commander-in-chief. To assert that he’s unfit because of the unproven suspicions of SOME about Russian blackmail is not compelling: indeed, it’s an ideologically self-interested stretch. We know that Tom, like a lot of people, doesn’t like Trump on general principles; but that, and about $10, will buy us a Benedict Arnold Pez-dispenser on Amazon.

  59. What we also now is that, collusion or no collusion, The Donald needs to take seriously the FACT that his pal. Vlad the Enabler, is trying to meddle in this year's elections, too. That he truly doesn't seem to care (and that his base and the Republicans on Capitol Hill also don't seem to care) is just plain disgraceful. Why not just leave the doors wide open and let the burglars walk right in?

  60. No. Mueller has brought charges based on Russia interfering in our election, not "seeking to interfere." If you have read them you will know that the charges are written in considerable detail. Your opinion on whether Trump is compromised is premature because Mueller's findings against Trump have so far not been revealed. As with the inter-agency work done so far to charge this group, Mueller will know all about Trump's financial dealings and his business partners. You're up before acceptances – put the cork back in the bubbly.

  61. Yes. This goes so far beyond partisan politics. This is about a man who clearly cares only about himself and his family, though I really doubt if the family truly matters at all. He is a pathetic shell of a human being, Yet, somehow, he is protected and nurtured by the entire GOP Congress, a Greek chorus of politicians who are willing to sell us, and our nation, out for a few shekels. We are definitely at a crossroads. It is well past the time to invoke the 25th, but I doubt that even one Republican would have the guts to even suggest it....!

  62. I'm not sure getting rid of Trump is the right thing to do. Pence is a horror, just a different horror, owned by the Kochs instead of the Kremlin. Maybe the best course of action is to take both houses of Congress in the mid-term and do a full court press on them as they did to Obama, give them nothing and hold them hostage. Then unseat them in the next election if Trump and hopefully Pence haven't been indicted already.

  63. Well now the Pres. Physician has declared him mentally sane and competent, no one is now discussing the 25th. He still seems on the edge of dementia to me, but I am not a doctor. Sometimes, he is really smart and clever, lucid, and ok, but mostly he struggles with words, and his anger is out of control.

  64. Agree 100%. Regarding his family, there is a breed of narcissist called a family annihilator. Everything is about this person. Yhey are often driven to earn lots of money and power in order to have more control of those in their lives. And they control their families with an iron fist, through verbal or physical violence. They are often the men who kill their families and then sometimes themselves. It's a bizarre psychology, but I wouldn't be surprised he Trump fit into this catagory.

  65. Here’s another possibility: There is an axis of interest that runs from the Wichita of Charles and David Koch through Trump’s White House to Putin’s Kremlin, with a side channel to Republican leaders in Congress. This is not exactly a conspiracy, although the players may from time to time conspire; rather, it is a shared interest similar to that of the Axis powers in World War II. Today's players have this in common: a profound distaste for America’s democratically elected government, and an obsessive need to cut it down to size. Their motives vary, but all have to do with personal pride offended. We should not be surprised that Putin wanted us to know of his government's role, to rub our noses in it. Nor should we be surprised that Trump is silent on Russia’s cyber attacks. In fact, he’s no doubt cheering silently from the sidelines. This does not preclude the other motivations suggested by Friedman.

  66. The motivation of the Koch brothers is transparent. They are primarily in the fossil fuel business and see both the economics of renewable energy and the evidence of climate change as threatening to their industry. They are investing in Republicans to preserve their business model. Russians are just competitors in the oil business.

  67. Reply to MEM, They are far more than interested businessmen. The are small-government ideologues of the first order. Their history of political activities speaks for itself.

  68. Indeed. They have been moving their libertarian agenda foward quietly but definitely. Their notion for how this nation should be run does not concern itself with the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

  69. It isn’t just Donald Trump, and it isn’t just the Russians. Donald Trump is acting just like any other Republican by ignoring threats that don’t match up with his preconceptions. Who can forget George W Bush’s dismissal of any threat from Osama bin Ladin, or his determination to invade Iraq rather than finishing the job in Afghanistan? The Russians, meanwhile, are simply imitating Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Republicans by demonizing their political foes.

  70. George W. Bush didn't act on warnings before we were attacked. Trump is ignoring them after we were attacked--and essentially denying that we even were attacked. And, President Bush was acting (incompetently) in the what he believed to be the best interests of the United States. It was never about him.

  71. "The Russians, meanwhile, are simply imitating Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Republicans by demonizing their political foes." I don't think the Russians need any American models for political treachery; they've been in that business longer than America has been around. But you're right - not a good road to go down, leads to chaos.

  72. John M, I've been part of determined opposition to virtually all GOP policies. However, your equating Bush or any other president with Trump is a grievous misrepresentation. Trump, for reasons well established and lined out in Friedman's Op-ed is a different matter entirely. As absurd as the notion that the president of the United States is compromised by Russia, it is countered by the genuine possibility of being true. Ridiculous right wing conspiracies have been rampant for decades, however this conspiracy as Mr. Friedman well argued is based on rational assessment. No other president has displayed behavior that could be construed as having mixed national allegiances.

  73. Finally. Finally. Finally. Thank You, Thomas L. Friedman, for giving voice to that which so many of us have held for so long. And for doing so with eloquence and metier that exposes the breadth and scope of Donald J. Trump's betrayal of America. Which is astonishing to contemplate.

  74. Trump's "betrayal of America" may not be as dangerous as the betrayal by Republican members of Congress.

  75. When the Trump era finally comes to an end, we will have a choice between admitting our new third world status by imprisioning a former president, or admitting that there is no price for treason on a grand scale.

  76. The whole world would be better off 'if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”' Now the situation is the opposite, but it's another Republican destroying things. Should I apologize for pointing that out?

  77. Also another president "elected" with a minority of the votes - this anti-democratic system has to go.

  78. I'm not sure it was Bush's reaction to 9/11 (invading Afghanistan) that was the horrible mistake, though anyone who has even played Risk knows not to get involved in a landa war in Asia. But it most certainly was the ill-considered and fraudulently-based invasion of Iraq, which of ocurse had nothing to do with 9/11.

  79. Every situation is improved when Republicans play golf instead of getting involved. The game of golf deserves both praise and apologies.

  80. I wonder if, after Trump is out of the Presidency, he can be sued for the millions of dollars he took from our government by charging us for his visits to his own golf clubs. And if he's dead, his estate and heirs can be sued.

  81. Are there forfeiture laws in the states where the Trump Organization owns properties? If so that might be a way for the family to be bankrupted. Any attorneys here that know how this works?

  82. It has been publicized, over and over, that the cost of Trump's trips are mostly paid for Air Force One and the Secret Service, not his room and food and golf. Your lawyer will charge you more than you collect. That will be the real rip off.

  83. Lets pass a law in congress for that very thing, make it something that everyone has to sign if they want to be elected in the midterms

  84. We involve ourselves in Russia's domestic affairs to move them toward our system, democracy, and they involve themselves in our internal affairs to move us toward oligarchy. They are resisting our efforts, but we are not resisring theirs.

  85. Technically, the American system is a democratic republic, not a democracy. Furthermore, the "democratic" part is imperfect, to say the least. There is no constitutional right to vote in the US and extreme gerrymandering ensures that politicians get to choose their voters. Money is equated with speech and corporations are people. None of these facts are a result of Russian influence. On the other hand, American economic advisors were on hand to help the Russians when the Soviet Union collapsed. Their advice was that the first order of business was to create some rich people. Once there are rich people (doesn't matter if they're former communists and KGB), free market will take over. Everybody knows that the free market makes everything great...Yes, that was a foreign policy blunder of millennial proportions thanks to the arrogance of ignorant and misguided free market ideology. The US was the obstetrician that gave birth to Russian oligarchy. The new Russian system has now grown up to become a big enough mirror that the US can look into. Is this ugliness really us? It does not need to be! Yet, at least half the electorate seems happy with it.

  86. It is probably simplier to cease as much as can be justified for what will probably be revealed as tax evasion and money laundering.

  87. Oligarchy tends to rig things

  88. The Trump era will belong in the annals of infamy up there with the McCarthy era. Congress hearings facilitated the persecution of artists, scientists and politicians spurred on by McCarthy demagoguery exploiting fear of communism and the existential threat posed by the USSR. He went too far when he tried to implicate the military, but before that he managed to ruin the reputations of alarge number of people. The Trump era has not lead to a similar persecution of individuals (if we ignore undocumented aliens who have replaced communists as the biggest threat) but the destructive incompetence of him and his cabinet can potentially lead to a far more destructive era then McCarthy's. The irony is that at McCarthy's heyday the outcry was about possible communists in the State Department. Today we have a Russian mole sitting in the oval office refusing to face a blatant assault on our democracy, attacking the FBI and all intelligence agencies, and a supine Republican Congress pretending nothing abnormal is going on.

  89. I've regarded these times as the Twilight Zone episode of our history, with my apologies to Rod Serling.

  90. With all due respect, Trump is far worse and far more dangerous than McCarthy.

  91. Agreed but why dismiss the damage done to immigrants who have been persecuted? And don't forget the Muslim persecution-driven travel ban!

  92. We all know that President Trump has refused to make public his income tax returns. What we do not know, however, is whether Special Counsel Mueller has made any attempt to obtain them from the Internal Revenue Service nor whether he has been successful in his request. I sure hope so.

  93. You and the rest of America will find out about Trumps tax returns shortly. As an outstanding prosecutor, Mueller has them. I'm thinkin Mr. Mueller might want to run for President in 2020.

  94. My guess is a thorough investigating team such as SC Mueller has hired has had DJT’s tax returns for a while - and as the feds close in DJT will become more unhinged, as we began to see over the weekend.

  95. It's not the tax returns we should be concerned about, it's the balance sheet. Where did this debt originate? Duetsche Bank and Bank of China could have sold Trump's debt to the Russians. NO American bank would touch Trump after his bankruptcies, lawsuits and not paying his creditors and suppliers. As a former NYC general contractor (commercial work in hotels, etc.) we wouldn't touch his projects because it was COMMON knowledge in the industry you wouldn't get pair. His only option, as supported by Donald, Jr. were the Russians. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck.....draw your own conclusions.

  96. Monte, I'm going for Door #1 (the Money) "Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him" Door #2 is obviously a non-starter, I mean what's a couple more prostitutes in Russia when you've already denied or paid off dozens or maybe even a hundred women. Door #3 (naive about Putin) doesn't work, Trump trusts no one. The Trump tax returns, which are now in an IRS vault protected by guards, the 650,000 pages of financial documents in the Manafort/Gates case from Deutsches Bank and others, the money laundering experts in Trump Tower meetings, the NRA contributions from Russia, the panicked demands by Jared Kushner to fire Comey and the sprawling Trump/Kushner relationships with organized crime figures in the US, Israel and Russian oligarchs and much more, all point to a sordid tale of dirty money sufficient to bring down a President. No hurry, Mr Mueller. Trump perjures himself on Twitter every day in the court of public opinion.

  97. ".... and the sprawling Trump/Kushner relationships with organized crime figures in the US, Israel and Russian oligarchs and much more ..." Very interesting information. Considering Mr. Kushner's problems with obtaining security clearance, it is reasonable to ask why no journalist has written a comprehensive article on these connections? May be they have but, for obvious reasons, the US media have been reluctant to publish their articles. I also wonder if Mr. Kushner's new found interest in "Prison Reform" is also connected to his relationships with foreign construction companies specializing in building prisons.

  98. Muller has access to the tax returns.

  99. Perhaps instead of writing spam you should look up the definition of perjury.

  100. We know about Trump's stormy affairs with a porn actress and a Playboy model. Steve Bannon said Trump's lawyers have paid off a hundred women. So Trump probably isn't bothered by the peepee tape. But there is evidence that he owes at least 600 million dollars to Russian oligarchs. They don't play nice when they're not paid back. Trump can't pay them back because he's not really a billionaire. What does he do instead? Gives them the United States. By the way, if the Russian oligarchs are after you for their money, what better protection can you have than the Secret Service? Trump both needs to give America to Russia and he knows he needs to protect himself when he has friends like Russian oligarchs.

  101. That's hardly news at all as this is how Trump has done business in the past and everybody knew about it. Trump usually ran a debt ridden enterprise into the ground while amassing huge debts that would damage the investors rather than himself when going bankrupt. When the pressure became too high, he told them that they can have it and quietly so as any news of yet another broken venture would scare their investors away. And he kept the name on the label. The same happens here on a political basis: There is large scale damage, the economy and his protectionist approach in a globalized world, and the fallout would damage his venture, a country called the USA, quite a bit but the damage to his partners, the GOP, a lot. So he sells his venture to the investors, the GOP letting them have it all and letting them have the collateral as well. The Russians are only a small but rather prominent smoke screen.

  102. And it does all come down to a meeting about Russian adoptions and OUR Magnitsky Act, because if oligarchs and Putin can't spend their Trump money anywhere else in the world as more and more countries pass versions of the act, they'll be coming here.

  103. This will probably end badly -- I don't think the Russian Mafia is reknowned for its sense of forgiveness.

  104. I've been making the King Lear comparison for a long time, and would love to see an updated version of this play performed. Tiffany Trump, who has mercifully stayed out of the fray, and away from the swamp, will be perfect in the role of Cordelia!

  105. Russia gives millions to the NRA. The NRA, in turn, gives millions to Trump and Republican members of Congress. Congress does nothing about Trump ignoring Russian interference in the elections. Trump and Congress do nothing about gun control. Money talks. Trump and Congress are listening.

  106. Let us hope Mueller believes his investigative mandate extends to following the money, and and discovering whom it has bought or compromised. If we indeed have the Best Government Money Can Buy, we need to know who are the purchasers and who are the purchased.

  107. " Follow the money . " Still good advice and I suspect Mr. Mueller is on it .

  108. Tit for tat ? Is it not fair to remember that the U.S. government pumped $5 billion into Ukraine to promote regime change? These things should not happen but they do. Big money plays to big a role almost everywhere.

  109. Even by keeping mum on Russia Trump can't be sure that what Russia did to Clinton and the country wouldn't be repeated in his case and the coming elections. Better to acknowledge the threat before it strikes again.

  110. That would require common sense and some modicum of integrity.

  111. If the Russians tried to influence the election, why wouldn't they actually rig it? Consider Princeton University's research - How to Rig an Election in 7 Minutes - and ongoing studies about how vulnerable our voting machines are, especially in the days right before the election when they are moved to voting centers where they are not well protected. The machines frighteningly easy to hack. Consider that the Trump campaign surprised the pundits by canvassing states they weren't expected to win - the states he "barely" won. Consider the slim margins he won by - almost mathematically similar margins. I'm hoping the Mueller investigation leads to exposing that the Russians were behind his Electoral College win.

  112. I read that there were around 65,000 votes in Michigan where the president bubble was blank. I find that almost incredible that that many people would make the effort to vote yet leave the president box blank.

  113. They didn't just want him to win. If they are interested in undermining our democracy then it had to be a wider and more subtle campaign than just the garnering of more votes. If the allegations are true they must have been interested in a Trump win, plus a divided, quarreling, distracted nation.

  114. Rigging it is too easy. What the Russians have done is undermine the legitimacy of our government process. We never questioned the results of an election (2000 notwithstanding) and the transfer of power occurred without violence. Now, we really don't know how Trump won - did he win really because he had the best message? Did he win beause the vote was rigged? Did he win because the Russians infiltrated our institutions and sowed disinformation? The latter is a play right out of the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. It's really too bad Americans didn't pay attention during history class, we might have learned what we were up against.

  115. This is the closest NYT has come to doing what must be done - calling for the removal of this grave threat to the nation. Thank you. Many of us in NYT comments section have been saying this for months, as it is blatantly obvious that the extreme narcissist in the White House is utterly corrupt, morally depraved and, most dangerous of all, thoroughly compromised. But congress is equally culpable. Our government is being systematically and methodically destroyed while Trump distracts with his every outrageous and demented tweet. But as others have already said, the absolute greatest threat is represented by the millions of Americans who are now clearly brainwashed, and who still vehemently support this administration. I've been clinging to the hope that something will happen to awaken the nation to the reality of this dire situation, and it is now clear that the midterm election will decide our fate. But my hope is fading with every passing day.

  116. Your comments certainly hold true. I encourage you not to lose hope. What I learned from 9-11 is there is no metric to measure the breath and depth of this nation. Truly we are much greater than the sum of our parts. Although this is a very dark and daunting time, history shows as a nation we persevere, we endure, we adapt and move forward: we can and will rise above the traitorous and self-fulfilling greed and lust for power spewing from Washington and funded by the uber-rich. Do. Not. Lose. Hope.

  117. I think you should have more confidence in the political and technological system of the United States do defend itself against foreign interference. But in my opinion Trump is a homegrown product and Russia is made a scapegoat. I recommend you to read "Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-Made Discord".

  118. Not so much 'brainwashed' as numb to the daily inanity, shifting emphases, and surrounding clamor. We need our REAL media (NYT's is #1 example) to step up and tell it like it is. Thank you Tom Friedman for doing just that. We are more than a year into this catastrophic experiment in electing a reality TV personality as our president and our democracy is under siege from within. Mueller's investigation is our best hope for bringing this chapter to an end.

  119. No doubt Trump is desperate to save his skin and is still striving to discredit Robert Mueller's findings. Much is at risk: both his presidency and his personal fortune. It comes as no surprise that his real estate empire had "taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him." His son, Donald Jr confirmed an influx of Russian money in 2008 at a real estate conference. Should Trump fall from disgrace, he would have to repay the loans and lose all licences, because his brand will be worth nothing. He might even lose the myth of being a billionaire. "Rumors...that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released" could be another reason, but he would survive the scandal, as embarrassing as it might be. Since he's obsessed with wealth, he would have a hard time coping without a lavish lifestyle.

  120. Prison would make that remarkably easy, as the choices are much reduced.

  121. I agree, the sexual encounter will not bring him down, his loyal voters admire him no matter how disgusting his affairs are. Money laundering is a very easy crime to prove. This will provide the facts and show the crimes to take him and all of his very close family and people who have sold their sole for the privilege of being on his team down and on to jail. This is the only thing that will bring some respect from the rest of the world for America, convictions for them all. Recovery will be slow.

  122. I like the typo 'fall from disgrace'. Only with this president it seems possible to fall to some deeper level of it.

  123. What's missing here is that Trump's method - to sow discord - is precisely the Kremlin's goal. Trump has been divisive all along; he plays on the resentments and xenophobia of his base; he quickly descends to name-calling, bullying, and lies about those who disagree with him or whom he deems insufficiently loyal to him. To a large extent, Putin's cabal sowing discord dovetails nicely with Trump's method. Because Trump cares mainly about Trump, anything which forwards his main goal (Trump wins) is far more important to him than higher goals like the well being of the country. Add in the now globally understood fact that Trump is very responsive to praise, strokes, and being treated "special" and he will remain putty in Putin's hands. Saner and less narcissistic heads must work the protect the democracy.

  124. Good points! Let's also consider that many of his followers, the xenophobes and oligarchs, may prefer a Russian inspired government to democracy. Beliefs are important!

  125. Putin putty? Nice one Ann- Marie

  126. What is he hiding? It's obvious that one thing (perhaps the major thing) Trump has been hiding is his TAX RETURNS. Since Trump and the Republicans are so intent on discrediting the FBI, the ONLY solution is to allow the American people to see more of the evidence for themselves, and a vital part of that evidence is the TAX RETURNS. Democrats should be insisting that the American people have a right to see what economic dealings our President has had with foreign governments, and demanding full transparency from Trump on this issue.

  127. After reading this piece I started to wonder how effective the FBI can be in getting to the truth about Trump’s financial relationships. Whatever the case is, it appears that a presidential candidate’s financial disclosures are too shallow and should be made public. Even if you loved Trump and believed his swill, a voter should be made aware of conflicts of interest which could put the country at risk. The Federal Election Commission is feckless and toothless. Public exposure is critical. Many people favored Trump because they thought he was so rich he couldn’t be swayed by campaign money. But if he owes millions to Russians and is making decisions because his fortune rides on his Russian relationships, he had no business being in office. And it would have disproved the faulty assumption about Trump and campaign contributions. It’s much worse and more dangerous to the country to be getting your money from long time geopolitical enemies like Russia than the Koch brothers.

  128. The shame is that one of our 2 political parties are either in collusion with Trump and the Russians or is being controlled by their plutocrats to defend their money. Without the Republican support and their refusal to thoroughly investigate the Russian involvement, the president can't be forced to take proper action. The congressional election in Nov. will tell if the American citizens will demand the truth.

  129. Congress should — but won't, at least under the current GOP majority — pass a law requiring all candidates for the offices of president and vice president, as well as all cabinet nominees, to publicly provide the previous seven years' tax returns. That shouldn't be controversial in the least. Remember, only Trump* has failed to provide recent tax returns among recent presidential candidates.

  130. What Trump is hiding seems to be obvious. He has some financial tie or obligation to Russian entities that reflect poorly on him. That tie (or ties) will be indicated in his tax returns and his financial records, and the tax returns at least are something Mueller can get at. So is wire transfer and account activity. The only proof of this is the tax records and other financial records themselves, but Occam's Razor suggests that I'm right. Trump is acting increasingly nervous about Russia because he should be. Mueller will keep at his appointed task until he gets to the truth, and the truth has never been Trump's ally.

  131. You know he’s nervous & upset when he didn’t play golf last weekend (after wasting taxpayer money to fly down there) because he was afraid of bad optics! He had to stay inside & watch FOX news. Aaah poor baby!

  132. Tom, there is another reason why The Republican President and His Republican Party are "unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy". The Russians weren't the only people conducting disinformation campaigns to divide voters and elect Trump. The Republicans and their supporting PACs, 527's, alt-right organization other wealthy donor sponsored organizations conducted far more effective disinformation campaigns. Any critical analysis of whether the Russian efforts affected the election results would involve analysis and comparison of the Russian and domestic disinformation campaigns. That is not a comparison that Republicans want to make public. From a Republican perspective the inquiry would be one-sided. It would not involve scrutiny of any Democratic disinformation campaigns because the election results prove that any Democratic disinformation campaigns were not effective.

  133. What are the possible solutions to end this nightmare? I don’t see any. The mid-term election I suppose.

  134. Thank you for your insights! You are usually very reasoned and dispassionate. Today you can feel the passion. Thank you—and keep it up.

  135. He can only stay in power if those who voted for him continue their support, and the congress and senate allow him to continue. He needs enablers. In the end they are the ones responsible for what is being done to our country.

  136. Has Trump ever received a "security clearance?" Or is the president not subject to the same security requirements as his minions and the rest of our country's citizens?

  137. Mr. Friedman, everyone now knows what candidate Donald Trump's slogan was: "Make America Great Again." Your essay here lays bare the very real threat to our country, one that any competent president would--long ago--have hastened to begin marshaling information, directing counterpunches, leaning heavily upon the nation's safeguards and guardrails: the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the N.S.A., and any and all other intelligence and investigative agencies so that America could (would?) counter Russia's direct threat(s) to our nationhood; to our way of life; to our government, a government, it must be truthfully admitted, that this president has gone out of his way to demonize, to marginalize, to neuter, to rob of the stature and might that has defined it for a quarter of a millennium--its faults notwithstanding. It is this humble citizen's opinion that the Trump administration should shed MAGA and, instead, take for its formal and forever hashtag, the title of a 1963 movie by slightly altering the title of the espionage thriller to read: #To Russia, With Love.

  138. Why does it matter who exposed this vulnerability to America’s democracy - fake news. Wouldn’t the rich oligarchs like the Koch Brothers exploit it in the next election? Does that make it acceptable because they are Americans? If the answer is no, then the focus should be on the systems that permit the threat to American democracy.

  139. The question raised here about Trump has long ceased to be the most important issue before this county, after all, we have long known that Trump is not qualified to be president. The bigger question is why the Republican party continues to either remain silent to his perfidy, or to actually defend Trump? As this piece so well points out, America is listing dangerously and the ship needs to be righted. That task is solely in the hands of Congress and from all indications, that are putting party before country. Trump is simply acting as Trump has always done, the unscrupulous con man. But Congress has no excuse for their silence.

  140. Very complicated situation, but two things (among others) keep me from agreeing with this columnist. First, isn't the US notorious for interfering in other countries' politics? That is, does it have standing to complain about this operation, which strikes me as penny-ante? Second, Trump has gone to great lengths to shut Mueller down? Is that true? Doesn't he as chief executive have the right to simply dismiss Mueller? Anyway, glad I'm not in charge myself!

  141. Mueller had reached a dead end in his investigation of the Russians. There simply was no way to bring them to trial. At that point, prosecutors may write prosecution reports. To return bogus indictments to make his findings seem official is deceptive, improper, and probably unethical. If Sessions had done it in one of his cases, Democrats would call for his resignation.

  142. Ummmmm. No. You are wrong.

  143. What is more disturbing is the lack of political pressure from the GOP to do something about this. the liberals and Democrats are wringing their hands, the pundits are shouting from the rooftops, the columnists are waving the red flag - and life goes on. And Trump goes on tweeting and turning truth into fake news. It is only when the members of his own party - the adults in the room - wake up and say, "Hey, our national security is at stake. We need to do something about this." will any change really happen.

  144. Yes, all so true, Mr. Friedman, but let’s hope the acting president doesn’t latch on to the fact that the United States, the sanctimonious United States, has been in the business of trying to manipulate elections and heads of foreign states for years and years. He might even be able to turn this into a plausible defense and then where would we be?

  145. Isn’t it obvious that Trump admires the Russian government more than the American government? One defends the institution in which one believes. Since Trump has no abiding love of our country, no loyalty, no respect for our laws, no knowledge of our history he should move to the country he admires above all others. Then we will all be happy.

  146. It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Russia perpetrated a massive attack the very democracy of our Nation and is planning more for the upcoming election. The President has a fundamental obligation to protect this country. So where is he? Once must wonder at what point does his indifference to the security of our Nation pass from dereliction of duty by the Commander-in-Chief and into the realm of providing aid, support and cover to an attacker of our nation. One must also ask the same question of virtually everyone in the GOP Congress who refuse to step up and do anything except obstruct a very legitimate investigation into the attack and support the derelict Commander-in-Chief.

  147. I doubt there's a real estate developer on the planet who has honest finances. Building empires on mountains of debt is the norm in the field. There's no way Trump isn't owned.

  148. Friedman hits the nail on the head. All the symptoms are there for all to see. Mueller will eventually get to the bottom of this and there will be a constitutional crisis when the Republican majority refuses to do anything about the findings. In the meantime our only hope is to VOTE.

  149. If you turn the telescope around, and try to see the developing 2017 election from Putin's view, it would seem that he had everything to gain by telling Trump that he was helping him, and nothing to lose. Everything to gain because by telling Trump he was aiding him, he could strengthen his ties to a mouthpiece that was already at work trying to degrade American's institutions. Nothing to lose, because it was obvious the last thing Trump would do is tell the authorities - "Putin is trying to help me win?" Trump might think. "Good for him. He's picking the right man." There is no possibility that he would call the FBI - especially given his alleged financial ties to Russian banks. What Putin and the Russians probably didn't count on is Trump winning. While this was no doubt a fantastic bonus (being able to blackmail a sitting President? Can you imagine?) But as the slow dribble of information comes out, with the 13 indictments being the latest installment, my guess is this is going to be a mixed bag for the Russian bear. Lots of satisfaction, but too much glare from the spotlight, and too many countries with heightened suspicions going forward. At the end of the day, Trump is just Putin's patsy. An easy mark in the continuing maneuvers by a once great power trying to claw its way back into the game.

  150. Well said and this needs to be reinforced by all the media (Except Fox News). Relentless pressure on him and continuous support of our security agencies. Our country’s future is at stake.

  151. Given the tone and content of his tweets these past few days, we all need to be aware that Trump may be close to a meltdown. And, no one knows how that may turn out, except that it will be nasty. Who among his minders and family members will be able to control his actions? General John Kelly, for example? I doubt it, as he seems to have morphed into a junior version of Trump. Jared and Ivanka? Maybe. It seems quite possible some sort of uncontrolled, irrational act may just be over the horizon.

  152. Would it be possible that Trump made an agreement with the Russians in 2014, that he would run if they would help him win the election and that he would pay for it?

  153. My guess is that Muller has all the information he needs to indict trump and is just biding his time to make sure his case is airtight. Hopefully all the facts will come out before the 2018 election.

  154. We must demand once and for all that he release his tax returns, pure and simple. He knows that this is the only way of clearing this up, although we know that this is the last thing he will ever do.

  155. Stop with the tax returns! Mueller has much better sources available via banking records, balance sheets and wire taps. And he no doubt has access to the tax returns already.

  156. America has consistently tried to influence internal affairs in other nations, e.g., the Ukraine, the old USSR and its satellites, and in Russia and China to move those nations in a direction we consider desirable. We have used spies to get dirt on other nations' governments. Some years ago our government put "bugs" in a Boeing plane sold to the Chinese government. Maybe we can make Facebook say who places a post or who pays for an ad. But we cannot prevent posts on Facebook that inflame divisions and political passions. China censors internet access but it may pay a price. Is it realistic to believe that we can prevent Russia from trying to interfere in our political process while we attempt to influence events in Russia and the Ukraine and other countries? If our spying produced dirt on Putin does anyone think that most American Presidents would fail to make that dirt known to the world? Isn't the answer that we must try to prevent Russian hacking and that we must have faith that with an uncensored internet our traditional faith in free debate will allow democratic values to prevail?

  157. The significance of Russian interference in our elections is not whether it tipped the balance enough to put Trump in the White House. Its significance is that it happened. Trump's margin of victory was just under 78,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Mr. Mueller can prove evil intent and he may be able to prove that the Russian action violated our election laws. But he cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Russian interference provided Trump such a small margin. The real threat of Russian interference is that Russia has demonstrated that foreign countries can conduct disinformation campaigns that threaten the integrity of our elections. That will tempt other nations to engage in similar behavior. Voters have a hard enough time separating fact from fiction given the false and misleading media campaigns conducted by candidates and the broad range of organizations conducting negative ad campaigns and other disinformation campaigns on behalf of the candidates. Donald Trump is correct in worrying that the focus on Russian election interference is destroying the legitimacy of his administration. If foreign interference continues in election after election, the legitimacy of future presidents will be called into question too. At some point, voters will lose their faith in the electoral process and democratic government. Donald Trump and his Republican Party are just not up to the task of leading the investigation into Russian interference.

  158. Trump told us through his own words and actions that he was unfit for office, but tribal Republicanism caused many who knew better to still vote for him. What is even more difficult to understand is after one year in office and over 2,000 lies, 35% of the public still support him. And, how can the Republican Congress, who see him in action and have to know he trying to stop the Mueller investigation into how Russia is trying to undermined our democracy, still continue to support him. What do they really stand for?

  159. The fact of the matter is not that Trump conspired and is owned by the Russians, because he did and he is. The real question is what will we do. The divisions Russia stoke are real.

  160. Often overlooked in this discussion is the fact that Russia has nuclear weapons. Attacking Russia, saying that they meddled in or elections, is really dangerous. I hope that the assertions of our intelligence agencies are true, and that they are not lying in order to escalate tensions with Russia for the gains of military contractors. It's a pretty bad situation either way, and I tend to believe that Russia did interfere in some way in our election, and that our own president is comprised in some way. These are dark, dark times.

  161. How do you impeach the GOP House for abdicating its Constitutional responsibility? You can only do that in Nov. 2018 and that is when the tables will turn, Trump will resign, and we will be dealing with Pres. Pence. Or, before that, Trump is forced to release his tax returns, and led away in handcuffs (one can hope).

  162. Friedman's got it right; most likely the Russian financial connections. Given the psyche of the man in the White House, it appears inevitable that he will eventually lash out in a way to cause a Constitutional crisis. This will happen when his anger and need to strike out at his perceived adversaries can no longer be contained, by the President, or by those around him. And, most unfortunately, there is no reason to expect the Republican majority in the Congress to have the patriotism to take the decisive action that will be needed to save the country. Yes its frightening.

  163. You almost have to wonder if Trump was recruited by Russia to act as like the Manchurian Candidate. I know that has been brought up many times and it seems highly unlikely, but he has done an excellent job of undermining our political systems. My take on it is that to admit Russian meddling would be akin to admitting that he is an illegitimate President to him. He just cannot do it. As for being in the pocket of Russia due to financial issues, it's very possible seeing that quite a bit of wealth seems to have come from Russian sources, be it clean or laundered money. It could turn out to be both, but my take on it is that ego is the fact that we know and money is the possibility that hopefully, Mueller will find out. As for direct collusion by Trump himself, well, if he is the Manchurian candidate (and now President) that he seems to be, then yes, that is about as much collusion as you can get. Still, I am guessing that there is no direct collusion on Trump's part. I think his campaign staff wanted to engage in collusion and my guess is that he has to know that. If he does not and it occurred, it doesn't speak well of him as a businessman or a leader. I want him out but I don't want Pence in. Let's just hope we get through his term without a major political issue or a financial meltdown. He and his whole executive branch are woefully under qualified to deal with anything complex.

  164. It is increasingly obvious that the Republican party is totally controlled by its big donors. The president is controlled by Putin and those same donors. To me it is pointless to keep reading about how the 2018 election will determine the future of currently dysfunctional democracy. If you don't understand that, you are not paying attention. Now is the time to demand that the democratic party create a progressive platform that advocates job training and travel benefits for the disenfranchised. Those voters may be the key to the next election. Now is the time to begin organizing for the 2018 election. Sign up to walk precincts. Talk to your friends and volunteer to work for candidates who will change the downward direction of the country.

  165. Thank you for this piece. It’s plain he’s compromised. This guy loves the limelight so much he swaps positions on huge issues like immigration (“let’s be the country of love” “send me a bill and I’ll sign it”) when he feels the heat of an issue ... until he feels the wrath of Miller et al. He’s never once come close to flip flopping on Russia. It’s the one consistent position he’s held for years. It’s the only issue where his vanity doesn’t tempt him to stray. It’s gotta be good, what they have on him.

  166. I have a question as to why the FBI would normally be responsible to investigate Cruze as I’m not sure that his crimes are federal. On the other hand I am sure that there is enough evidence to warrant an impeachment proceeding against Trump. To me the big question is why hasn’t this happened?

  167. Thank you, Mr. Friedman, for stating the obvious - the Russians clearly have something on Trump. Whatever it is, I'm sure it is something deplorable. So, while I am certain the special counsel is on top of it, it is comforting to see something about this flawed, compromised president in print.

  168. A succinct analysis, and conclusions that are right on the money.

  169. The Russians may own our president, And the Republican party defends the arrangement. This should terrify every american. The votes cast in the November election may be the most important in our country's history. If it is not too late. Thank you Mr. Friedman.

  170. Trump's meticulously consistent Russian sidestepping flies in the face of history of otherwise broadly chaotic and contradictory statements suggesting high motivation. With increasing heat in the kitchen, this weekend's Tweet-a-rama was not reassuring. The "code red" tag brings to mind the undulating count down evacuation alarm of the space ship about to self destruct.

  171. But it's also possible he's right, there isn't much of anything, and this is all an effort to undue the last election.

  172. It's all about the money. Trump ran out of legitimate lenders to prop up his scams and needed to go to the Russian oligarchs/mob. Probably to the tune of hundreds of millions. They have owed him ever since. This is the explanation for pretty much all of it. Our only hope is that Mueller has found the paper trail and that when he presents the evidence the congress will be rid of the Vichy GOP majorities.

  173. Reading Mr. Friedman's comments and adding up all the facts presented, it's rather obvious this can't go on much longer. President Trump may well be remembered as having failed to contain his impulses and earn sincere support where it matters and thus destroyed his credibility and finally his presidency. Basic sensibilities that define the US have been affected and its becoming apparent that the Republicans can't ignore this fact much longer. The Russians are always engaging in manipulation of foreign governments, remember the Comintern? With the internet the threat is deeper and more dangerous.

  174. Once this is all over we have to clean up what made it so easy for the Russians to influence the elections and allow the voice of the majority to be swamped by a minority of misled voters. Untraceable soft money hidden behind PACs and LLCs. Untraceable propaganda advertisements on social media. Local boards of election using computerized voting with no paper trails. Gerrymandered election districts that give fringe groups control over election outcomes and the electoral college system itself. All of these were developed as handles to let some people control and influence elections while remaining hidden. The Russians found the handles lying around and used them to their advantage. To save democracy we have to remove these handles but the non-Russians who use them now will fight every step of the way. No more soft money. Paper trails for voting. An end to gerrymandering. No LLCs to launder donations. The end of the electoral college.

  175. People need to consider the extent to which Russia represents, to the several wealthy people driving the Republican agenda, a society worthy of friendship and emulation. In Russia, notions of public good don’t interfere with the divvying up of resources among an oligarchic elite, the press can be silenced with violence if they have the temerity to protest, and a cynical facade of democracy suffocates dissent without any sharing of power. There is no need to imagine conspiracy or blackmail to understand Republican compliance with Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy—it is a shared agenda.

  176. Mr Friedman is probably right that if the Russians have something on Mr Trump that worries him, it has to do with his financial operations. That might also explain his reluctance to reveal his income tax return. I doubt that Berlusconi like cavorting in Moscow would worry him nearly as much.

  177. Here's another possible explanation: Remember, our president's sole concern is on personally "winning" (by his definition). His distorted assessment may be that he wants continued Russian support straight through his re-election campaign. He certainly would not like to have Russia turning against him leading up to 2020 which is what would happen if he took a hard line. This is clearly putting personal desires above the good of the country but what else is new.

  178. Fortunately, Robert Mueller has access to hard evidence that neither we citizens nor the press have, and that is Trump's tax returns. I believe that using his financial forensic team, Mueller eventually will come out with a report that is much more detailed than the recent clear indictment of the 13 Russians. That Trump has been selling properties to the Russian mafia to assist in their own money laundering is out there. What is not yet clear is the extent to which Trump has compromised himself with the proceeds of those transactions. Manafort seems to have hid his money in many places, and was hired as a Trump consultant. Waiting for Mueller to put all the pieces in place is very exciting to me, and a positive distraction from the horrors of Trump's presidency. I hope the timing of Mueller's release of further information helps the Democrats regain the House and/or Senate in November. Somehow we must try to make lemonade of all the Trump lemons.

  179. our Democracy was seriously threatened years ago when the republicans refused to seat Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court, our current 'president' is just continuing that trend. and BTW we don't need to dwell on the last election (close to two years ago now) in order to question the legitimacy of the current occupant of the Oval Office, all we need is to look at the reality show drama, tweets, the shoving and WH intrigue and continual staff turnover

  180. The Presidential oath of office pledges "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Trump's refusal not only to acknowledge Russian interference, but his refusal to do anything to stop future tampering, which we know will occur is treasonous. As to the outcome of the election and Russia's involvement, it is a fact that there was appox79,000 votes cast between those three swing states; Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively — Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she'd have won the electoral vote. She did have close to 3 million more popular votes. The false narratives trolled by the Russians, the Russian interference with those for Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, pitting them against themselves and Hillary played dirty. We will never really know if they threw the election towards him, but interference with our democracy, they sure did.

  181. I’m just sayin, but, The election was affected, and most likely tipped to Trump by the Russians. We need to be saying this obvious truth out load and often. The pollsters who live by numbers could give us a quick assessment of the odds that x number of media posts would change the votes of a x number of people. We already know it wouldn’t have taken many votes to tip that election.

  182. There was an important story in the NYTimes a couple of days ago that provided a MOUNTAIN of evidence about how 'special interests' (!?) in the trucking industry were getting favors from Trump, his EPA and others in our government. There are environmental, economic, education-related as well as national safety (dare I say national security?) issues discussed in this important article...and the evidence presented was, and remains, rock-solid. Perhaps the leading Times green-checked conservative poster here (Richard L) read the article, and in his post, essentially demanded more balance and more research on the subject. He did not believe the essential facts of the story, as presented. I honestly fear for the future of our country. I wait for Trump's defenders to respond to this Friedman piece. I fear for our future. We get the leaders we deserve.

  183. I hope your recommendations for action to protect our elections find overwhelming support among politicians of all stripes. I hope true patriotism and national pride emerges strongly among all of us, citizens and our leadership. I believe an information offensive, as you describe, targeting Putin and his criminality, should be vigorously pursued by our leaders and our military. I believe our current president has shown, in this case, more than any other, that he either cannot or will not execute his constitutional responsibilities and must be removed immediately. Our country needs a leader capable and willing to properly understand what makes us a great nation. We need a man who can lead and be effectively and aggressively a great American president and champion of democracy and freedom.

  184. I think you've nailed it: huge amounts of money invested in Russian enterprises which our esteemed president wants hidden. Therefore no tax returns and temper tantrums when possibilities of the truth come near. Yes there may be evidence of indiscretions, but other revelations don't seem to incite any concern. It's the money that counts.

  185. And the GOP members in Congress are equally undermining and betraying the US by their inaction and acceptance of Trump's deeds. So where do we go from here?

  186. Thanks, Mr. Friedman. It is about time prominent public figures such as yourself started sounding this alarm. Many of us have been thinking it, but it is too late for just thinking it. We have to start saying it out loud, and in fact shouting it from the rooftops.

  187. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but the U.S. has “meddled” in countless democratic elections around the world for decades, including Russia. Friedman is spot on in much of this piece. I just wish he (and we) would take all the anger about Putin interfering in our elections and direct it toward unlimited campaign money, gerrymandering and voter suppression. Those issues are the real problem.

  188. Could not agree more. Trump is a master of obfuscation, creating a wake of confusion in his path. He exploits the serious divisions in our country, colluding with the Russian’s wish to destabilize our democracy. The danger is clear for all to see. How can any politician go along with the president’s agenda even if they eek out a win on tax reform or military spending? These are pyrrhic victories at best.

  189. Thank you Mr. Friedman. Trump is not carrying out the duties of his office. What is wrong with our Congress that they do nothing about this? Given his behavior, it's clear that the facts in the dossier -- all of them -- are true. The reason Trump knows "there are cameras everywhere in Russia..." is because he got caught in them. And the money laundering continues. Impeachment is the only answer.

  190. The implication from "Fire and Fury" is that Trump did not expect to win – that he was "white as a ghost" while watching the election returns – while Melania was crying (and not for the right reasons). Now Trump is clearly in over his head; the Mueller investigation might not just be the end to his presidency, it could be the downfall of his family business empire. But he had to accept the win; his ego would not allow him to reject it. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the investigation will lead to turmoil for Trump and his eventual ouster, and that the ensuing chaos for the GOP will result in strong midterm performances for Democrats. Progressives really need that good news. And it's probably the best chance to save our democracy, for everyone. That all future presidential candidates will be required to release their tax returns should be at least one additional fruitful outcome from this sordid affair.

  191. From the beginning of his campaign I have thought of Trump as the king of projection, he is the text book definition. My research tells me follow the money, anyone who has been on the do not loan to list of pretty much all American banks, and claims to be worth 10 billion certainly has some explaining to do. By the way where are those tax returns Donald?

  192. Now would be a good time for honorable members of Congress to step into the leadership void by working together to address the Russian threat, demonstrate America's commitment to Justice, restore pride in our nation and pass legislation addressing our national priorities. Congress knows what America needs and what the will of the people is regarding immigration, public safety, national debt, financial systems stability, consumer protection, environmental protection, global trade and alliances, infrastructure and etc. They can put the country above themselves, the lobbyists and the dark money. They can lead a national bipartisan debate where needed, pass legislation and leave the President alone if he chooses to use the veto power which Congress can then override. Trump's presidency has worked to undermine our faith in our voting systems, our media, our justice system, our trust in each other, our religious freedom, our moral standing, our national pride, our responsibility to care for people in need, our responsibility to take care of the planet and much more. This can not stand. Still we have 535 other people elected to lead America forward. How proud we could be of them if they would join together and fill the leadership void and remind us of how great our democracy can be.

  193. All armchair (and suitably horrified since day 1) commenters seem to be overlooking the character of tweeter in chief that places very high premium on never admitting anything, never confessing anything, never ever seeming to be placed in a position of apparent relative weakness or fallibility. Tax returns, russian connections dating from bail out from post bankruptcy days of 2007-9, all place him in a publicly vulnerable position. One which he abhors beyond anything else. He cannot ever seem to be the weaker or more vulnerable character in any transaction. This has been greatly reinforced by the enablers of what had been the republican party pre 2016, and which is now the trumpican party that has two characteristics: a populist rhetorical defiance against all things elitist/establishment/cosmopolitan/cultural diversity in nature; and complete contempt for regulation that verges on the libertarian and complete disinterest in promoting a common good through public policy. His "achievement" has been to synthesize libertarian fantasies with a populist approach to deficit spending that creates deficits so large that ryan's fondest dreams of shrinking entitlements will become de facto the only possible way to deal with large deficit spending without a recession. This + the propaganda warriors on faux news buffer him from the type of pushback this column exhibits. So, he never need look at things, publicly, from a perspective that would make him vulnerable.

  194. EXCELLENT article! Thank you. And a big thank you to Robert Mueller, a hero for our times, working tirelessly against the ticking clock that is Donald Trump.

  195. The Russians turned 2-3% of the vote in 4 states giving Trump a win in 2016. Mr. Mueller has proven that quite clearly. We don't know why, and we don't know the full implications, but we know it happened. Why Mr. Trump fears the truth is also not clear, but it is very clear that he does. Our Congressional committees have been busy defending him, and our courts are out of the matter for now. This leaves America in peril. We need some patriots in the Senate and House to stand, unite, and remove this man before he brings the house down.

  196. Here's what happens next. 1) The Olympics end and athletes return home to the safety of their homes. 2) Trump calls for a preemptive strike on North Korea to distract from his political problems. 3) (?) Will the military follow his commands? (open to debate)

  197. Trump is only concerned with three things; Trump, Trump, and Trump. The first Trump is about money. The second Trump is about image. The third Trump is about ego. He's trying desperately to save all three. He will surely be able to claim a "biggest-in-history" statistic soon. That statistic will be the biggest fall from grace in the history of the world. Sad but true.

  198. Eighteen year olds have never voted in significant numbers proportional to their slice of the population. Perhaps now they will, they can be the difference maker. If they stay angry and actually organize we could be in for a big surprise in November.

  199. President Trump demonstrates profound dereliction in his Constitutionally mandated duties to serve Americans and our democracy. During the Vietnam war, I flew about 800 hours in Vietnam, Northeast Thailand, and Laos. Too many of my friends and comrades are honored by the Vietnam Memorial for me to silently acquiesce without protest. Tomorrow, President's Day, my United States flag will be flown upside down, signaling dire distress.

  200. Agreed but equally worrying is that his senior staff and cabinet must have some awareness of Trump's exposure to Russian leverage. It's troubling that Generals Kelly, Mattis and McMaster appear to be content to serve and support a vastly compromised president and all round failed human being.

  201. We don't have to speculate about Trump's business relations with Russia; those are an established fact and involve many millions of dollars. Imagine what Republicans would have done if such a fact pattern applied to any prominent Democrat? But our problem here isn't the clear conflict of interest involving the president; our problem is the failure of congress and Republicans in general to speak out against clear Constitutional transgressions and conflicts. During the silence, Trump continues stacking the courts, undermining the rule of law, and poisoning the political atmosphere. Meanwhile, the polls are slowly ticking upward in his favor. We are a nation in crisis, and doubly so when the most credible Republican leader is the president himself. It's very easy to see him smacking down even Republican critics, if they emerge from the likes of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, "Little Marco," "Lyin' Ted," or any of the other prominent Republicans Trump so handily diminished to their proper stature. Who's going to take him down? There better be a rising wave of support for Mr. Mueller from both parties, and it better be unwavering. At this critical juncture, Mueller may be the only person in the nation with enough stature and standing to save the republic.

  202. Just an excellent article. Senators, Representatives, should stand up and say this is enough.

  203. Relax Mr. Friedman--Trump is reacting to the unrelenting effort to have him removed from office that began on Election Night 2016. Even paranoids have enemies, and the facts elicited thus far show no evidence---none whatsoever--of Trump's culpability with Russia. Instead, we have hard, factual evidence of anti-Trump activity at the highest levels by those who should be scrupulously apolitical. Facts are sometimes inconvenient, and so far they are all on one side of the ledger.

  204. Great article. Unless Republicans suddenly grow a backbone overnight, he will continue to walk over the rest of the government to his heart's delight -- at least until mid-term elections in November. Clearly, we have a rogue president, and the broader tragedy is that "his" party -- the G.O.P. -- has not stood up at all in the face of deep threats against our freedom, our sovereignty, and our most cherished right -- the right to vote.

  205. The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it's done so over 80 times between 1946 and 2000, according to some studies. That number doesn't include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn't like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala & Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring. Throughout the Cold War, U.S. involvement in foreign elections was motivated by the goal of containing communism. The U.S. didn't want to see left-wing governments elected, and so it tried to influence races in other countries on a constant basis. The U.S. also attempted to sway Russian elections. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy flailing, President Clinton endorsed a $10.2-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support, telling voters that only he had the reformist credentials to secure such loans, according to media reports at the time. He used the money, in part, for social spending before the election, including payment of back wages and pensions. Least we forget Friedman was an early supporter of the Iraq war. Why are we shocked that our chickens are coming home to roost. This column's outrage is mind boggling in it's hypocrisy.

  206. Trump has not met the minimum standards for employment as President of the United States and as a result his mission has switched from efforts at making his mark on the future of the country to redefining the defects of his own past.

  207. Mr Friedman What you write is certainly correct. I favor also his finances are deeply intertwined with Russian crime syndicates. However, an equal contribution of why our country is in this situation comes from McConnell and Ryan, the sycophant so called Leaders of the GOP. They are willing to tolerate Russian interference to get tax cuts, and Neil Gorsuch. And remember, it was Mitch McConnell who would not agree to letting the public know about Russian interference prior to the election. I am hopeful this episode will awaken many Americans to recognize that many of our institutions will suffer irreparable harm from this administration and to start paying attention to what is happening. This year's elections may determine if our democratic experiment is long-lasting.

  208. One thing I know for sure -- not only has Trump broken his oath of office "to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States", but the majority of the GOP members of Congress have as well.

  209. Agreed. Trump should cop a plea with Robert Mueller. It's a far better option than being fed to Putin's loan collectors. Maybe Trump could do his time in some sort of solitary for his protection, and be placed in witness protection upon release. He would, however, have to do something about that hair if he expects to go underground. The coif is, to say the least, unique.

  210. Yes he's hiding something (many things), and yes he isn't fit to be president - but with many Republicans continuing to look the other way, say nothing. and do nothing to hold him accountable for his behavior, he'll continue as is. Let's hope mid-term elections will change the dynamics.

  211. While it may be asking the impossible, let's stop for one brief moment to try to think about this situation from the point of view of Trump and his Republican Congress. Why on earth would Trump and his Republican Congress have even the slightest interest in keeping the Russians from interfering in the 2018 elections? Trump and his Republican Congress are terrified that they might lose control of the House of Representatives in 2018 thereby setting the stage for impeachment proceedings, a particularly likely event as Mueller closes in on the truth. The fact that Trump and his Republican Congress realize that it is becoming increasingly probable Democrats could take back the House in 2018 makes it obvious they also realize that anti-Democratic, pro-Trump, pro-Republican help from the election-interfering Russians is desperately needed. How can anyone seriously believe that a vigorous campaign to prevent Russian interference in 2018 will be prosecuted by either Trump's administration or a Republican Congress when both are in existential peril.

  212. This is a pretty fair summary of the situation. His behaviour is likely to be the result of those possibilities. Occam's razor suggests questionable financial ties but also, from what we know about his and Russian history a compomising video probably exists. The details are almost irrelevant when compared to the big picture. The period from 1988 onward publicly showed the fundamental un-sustainability of the Russian system of government. They lost, the US won. That was always going to leave many with life-long axes to grind. But the US probably peaked in the late 1970s as an example of the benefits of liberal, democratic capitalism. That's when wealth inequality was at it's lowest in the modern era. Since then the country has advanced in some ways while it's foundations have been left to crumble. Trump is a symptom of those factors. His presidency and daily actions are perhaps the perfect way to demonstrate the fundamental issues with the US system. Based on all this it would be extremely surprising if Russia had not sought to promote Trump. Despite being glad my country is a friend and ally, and despite their protestations, we all know that the US has quietly interfered in every country on the planet. There is a grim justice to what has happened.

  213. If the core of this is true or close to it, the thing that should keep us - and Congress - up at night right now is that the White House and the president's family and inner circle have daily access to America's most vital security secrets. If this is true, the horror and alarm of that - and Congress' refusal to intervene - is beyond words.

  214. I believe Trump’s motivation is actually very simple: he will NEVER acknowledge the possibility of Russian involvement because it questions the legitimacy of his election. And that’s something he spent 8 years doing during the Obama administration.

  215. I have not been one to jump on the Trump impeachment bandwagon. Just because so many of us do not like him, think he is incompetent, and/or are horrified by some of his and the GOP policies does not mean he is guilty of high crimes or misdemeanors. But the journalist James Risen makes an important point, something all of us should consider now that the Mueller probe is getting closer to the White House: "But if a presidential candidate or his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government that is a longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and then win a presidential election, that is almost a textbook definition of treason." We all need to be vigilant now, and make sure nothing stands in the way of Mueller's investigation. The future of the country depends on it.

  216. What baffles me is that Trump's approval rating in aggregated polls was up to 41.4% Friday. Not down to zero, but up from the mid 30's. No wonder the Republicans in congress are paralyzed; and they're probably as perplexed as the other 59% of the country. I look forward to the polls taken after Mueller's indictment was made public, but I have a feeling the numbers will not be encouraging. I think they will indicate that, if we pull through this, long after Trump is out of office we will have issues to resolve that go to the core of America's beliefs and identity.

  217. I’m guessing tax evasion. It got Al Capone, and it could get the Don. Even tRump supporters would probably accept tax evasion, when the details come out.

  218. When our political leaders take the Oath of Office, they promise to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both domestic and foreign. Well, it seems that the president and the republican congress are the domestic enemies. Who is defending us?

  219. When I read the 37 pages a sense of pride and looming justice engulfed me. Muller will get to the bottom of all this sooner, or later. For the sake our democracy lets all hope he will dispatch Trump sooner.