Email #213: “move forward”?

Regarding President Putin’s denial that Russia interfered in the election, Secretary of State Tillerson said yesterday: “it’s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations.” While I recognize the need for any Secretary of State to be diplomatic, I am concerned that the Trump administration is using this inevitable impasse as an excuse to ignore Russia’s actions in order “to move forward.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that yesterday: “President Trump said that he had heard the clear statements from President Putin about this being untrue, that the Russian leadership did not interfere in the election, and that he accepts these statements.”

Has the President accepted Putin’s word over the U.S. intelligence community? Lavrov emphasized how the President has undermined that intelligence: “President Trump said that this campaign has already taken on a rather strange character, because over the many months that these accusations have been made, not a single fact has been presented.”

The President has said this multiple times and repeated it two days ago: “I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries, and I won’t be specific, but I think a lot of people interfere…. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure…. everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what: That led to one big mess. They were wrong.”

Lavrov also noted that President Trump said “that certain circles in the U.S. are still exaggerating, although they cannot prove this, the topic of Russia’s interference with the U.S. election.” The President repeated this on Thursday too: “Let me just start off by saying I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, ‘Boy, that’s a lot.’ Do we even have that many intelligence agencies, right? Let’s check it. And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be three or four — it wasn’t 17.”

The President’s statement is absurdly misleading. Only four agencies—the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—investigated whether Russian interfered and all four concluded with “high confidence” that it did.

I asked you on December 9th: “The GOP will now run every branch of our government, so it’s up to you to act. How are you responding to this extraordinary act of Russian aggression?” Seven months later I have to ask the same question.

I asked you on January 10th about the President calling the U.S. intelligence community report a “witch hunt”: “what are you, as the influential Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, doing to counter this dangerously false impression?” Six months later I have to ask the same question.

The GOP has failed to respond to Russia’s attack, and our President continues to actively undermine his own government and country in favor of Russia. Do you, like Secretary Tillerson, believe this is acceptable and that we should just “move forward”?




Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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