Monday, April 3, 2017

Trump/Russia for Beginners

If you're like me you're bewildered by the swirl of charges and countercharges of possible collusion by Trump associates with the Russians to sway the election as well as allegations that individuals in our intelligence community are illegally leaking information to embarrass the Trump administration. It all seems like total confusion and our partisan media is apparently unable or unwilling to present a simple, unbiased explanation of the fiasco so as to help the American public comprehend it.

Don't throw up your hands in despair of ever understanding it, however, until you've read David French's piece at NRO titled A Beginner's Guide to the Trump/Russia Controversy. French does a fine job of presenting straightforward, unbiased answers to all of the questions you probably have about this political trainwreck.

Here's a list of the questions he tackles:
  • Did Russia actually “hack” the 2016 presidential election?
  • If the Russians didn’t “hack” the election, what did they do?
  • Did the Russians actually help Trump win the election?
  • What does Russian interference with our politics have to do with the Trump campaign?
  • Why do some people still think Trump will be impeached?
  • Is there anything to the claims that the “deep state” is launching a “soft coup” against the duly-elected president? Isn’t that the real scandal?
  • We keep hearing about wiretaps, surveillance, and “unmasking.” Who’s bugging whom?
  • We hear that intelligence officials are spreading allegations against Trump’s team throughout the government. Isn’t that clearly wrong?
  • Why is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee under fire?
  • Michael Flynn has said he's willing to testify to the FBI and to the congressional intelligence committees in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Won’t that blow this whole thing open?
The last question French addresses is this:
Are you [French] saying after more than 2,300 words that we know Russia tried to interfere with the election, but we don’t know if Trump officials helped or colluded in any way, if Trump himself was involved in any way, if Obama officials have improperly unmasked or surveilled Trump’s team, or who any unlawful leakers were? Isn't this the least-helpful Q & A ever written?
To which the answer to each part except the last is "yes." Despite the fact that there's still so much we don't know and that it's hard to give definitive answers to some of these questions, but French's essay nonetheless explains a lot about the current state of affairs and would be extremely helpful for anyone who wants to get up to speed on a controversy that has thrown our national politics into turmoil.