Las Vegas Sun

December 9, 2018

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Sun editorial:

Ample evidence of Trump-Russia collusion beyond Mueller probe

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President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We no longer need to wonder whether President Donald Trump has colluded with Russia. He’s doing it right in front of our eyes every day.

This is a man who’s taken no action against Russia on election meddling despite U.S. intelligence agencies and all responsible law enforcement saying Russia actively undermined the 2016 election and is seeking to do the same to the upcoming midterms.

He’s a man who refuses to be a leader in this matter and instead blames former President Barack Obama for not taking more action. This is a gutless thing to say considering that Obama personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against interfering in the election, publicly accused Russia of hacking Democratic National Committee emails and issued sanctions that included kicking some of the perpetrators out of the country and closing Russia properties suspected of spying. In Trump’s early months in office, he reportedly tried to reverse those actions.

The evidence of Trump’s collusion goes on and on.

He refused to impose sanctions against Russia approved by overwhelming majorities in Congress. He denied that Russia meddled in the election, then uncorked a flat-out falsehood by saying he’d never disputed that it had happened. (He claimed that when he described the situation as a “hoax,” he was referring to collusion between the Russians and his campaign.)

He pitifully said he believed Putin’s denials about Russia’s involvement. “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.”

This is a man who’s afraid of Putin, but worse yet is afraid of even any criticism of Putin.

And throughout, he’s failed to do what a president should be doing: rallying Congress and policymakers to protect our balloting systems from hacking and fighting off all efforts to influence the outcome of our elections.

This is an outrage. Keep in mind that the indictment announced by special counsel Robert Mueller last week detailed how a group of paid internet trolls based in St. Petersburg worked to “sow discord in the U.S. political system,” supporting Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Although Mueller didn’t identify Putin as a co-conspirator, the indictment did list Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin as the ringleader — and Prigozhin is a close, longtime associated of Putin’s.

The indictment went on to reveal how the Russians staged and promoted pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rallies, carried out social media campaigns in swing states and masked themselves by creating fraudulent U.S. identities and bank accounts.

But Trump’s response to all of this was to go on a days-long tweeting jag in which he pointed fingers and denied any collusion involving his campaign. Among those who caught criticism were Attorney General Jeff Sessions — or Jeff Session, as Trump referred to him initially — for not doing more to investigate possible misconduct by Democrats involving Russia.

How much more do we need to see to conclude that Trump is colluding with the Russians?

He has abandoned his duty to protect American democracy, and in every way behaves like nothing more than a corrupt stooge leader of a client state taking orders from the Kremlin.

That’s bad enough, but what’s even more sickening is that the GOP has tossed America to the Russians too. By refusing to blow the whistle on Trump, or really even do anything but feed his vanity and arrogance, Republicans have proven that they would rather protect their hold on political power than our democracy.

Mueller has yet to present evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, but at this point Trump and the Republicans are proving it for him — every day, in plain sight.