BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.
President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Asia again raised questions about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Commander-in-Chief reiterated his belief that Putin had not interfered in the 2016 election that got Trump elected. He also declared that he did not believe the information discovered by U.S. intelligence agencies was accurate.
Trump and Putin shook hands as they took part in a family photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. This action again calls into question Trump’s judgement. Some have suggested, Trump is naive and can easily be manipulated by others, or that he fears Putin.
Trump even went so far as to say that questioning Putin about the 2016 Presidential election during the Asia trip would have been insulting and inappropriate, but he did criticize three former U.S. intelligence agency heads on the issue calling them “political hacks.” The next day he turned to his favorite social media outlet, Twitter, and called those who questioned his attempts to improve relations with Russia, “haters and fools.”
The following day he was forced to clean up his mess. When questioned by reporters at a news conference to clarify exactly what he meant regarding Putin, Trump backtracked and said he ultimately believed his own agencies and that Putin played a part. I tend to agree with Trump’s ex-CIA Director John Brennan who recently said that Trump’s relationship with Russia is run by “naiveté, ignorance or fear.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May to lead the investigation into a possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. It focused on the potential involvement between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the President, who might have tried to hinder the investigation. They are also inspecting whether Trump and his financial associates have had any ties to Russia.
Trump’s tangles with Putin weren’t the only things getting him in trouble during his trip to Asia.
He also took aim at Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in another tweet, indirectly calling him “short and fat.” One cannot help but shake one’s head in disbelief at Trump’s behavior and apparent lack of a filter when he opens his mouth. To be fair, Trump did say that Kim Jong-un started the whole thing by calling him “old,” and added: “I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” Let us examine that for a moment. Trump wants to “be friends” with a ruthless dictator who allows his people to live in abject poverty while consistently trying to increase his county’s nuclear capabilities despite public outcry from the international community and crippling UN sanctions.
Perhaps Trump is adhering to the old proverb of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer, but judging by his other actions during his first year in office it’s hard to believe he’s that smart. Also, one is left to ponder how Trump could be so successful as a billionaire businessman in the private sector but so bad at diplomacy and general decision making as president.
Whether he intends to or not, Trump is sending a dangerous message that the leader of the free world can be easily intimidated and /or manipulated, and that could pose a serious threat to our national security. On the local level, we have the power through our city and state governments to effect the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that is charged with minimizing threats to our personal and public safety. So when the 2018 elections roll around, make sure you get out there and make your vote count.