Email #112, Subject: “not aware”?

The public now knows that President Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort was employed by a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin to promote Russian interests in the White House. Press Secretary Spicer reported that “the president was not aware.”

How could the President have failed to properly vet a major member of his own election team? Spicer dismissed the concern, arguing that the President was also not aware of where Manafort “went to school, what grades he got, [and] who he played with in the sandbox.”

The White House is likening the former campaign chair’s paid but undisclosed agenda to influence U.S. foreign policy to a childhood playdate.

This is after the President’s National Security Advisor was forced to step down due to his own undisclosed contact with Russia during the campaign. And this is after the President’s Attorney General was forced to recuse himself from the investigation due to his own contact with Russia during the same period and his misleading statement on the subject before the Senate during his confirmation hearings.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, oversight of the executive branch is one of your primary responsibilities, and yet you have had little to say on this matter, and what you have said has been misleading. The New Virginian reported:

“But Goodlatte has been responsive to some of the very issues constituents have criticized him for, his staff says. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte wrote a letter with other members of the committee on March 8 to Comey regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

White it’s true that you wrote to Director Comey, you made two requests: one on the Russian investigation and another on the President’s claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama during the election. The first is already being investigated by the Justice Department and will lead to impeachment if confirmed. The second has been universally rejected, with the Wall Street Journal likening the President to “a drunk clinging to an empty gin bottle.”

And yet by pairing the two in your letter you have implied that they are of equal significance. The President’s claim is an international embarrassment. Your tacit endorsement deepens that embarrassment. The world looks to the U.S. to define the highest standards of democratic governance, and you are failing to meet the responsibilities of your office.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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