Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2019

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Where I Stand:

Sound fatherly advice: Follow the money

In my father’s own words.

The world witnessed a historic event this past week when President Donald Trump met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore. It was a first for an American president to share the world stage with someone who, immediately prior to that meeting, was a global pariah.

Not that Trump shouldn’t have reached out to Kim in an effort to avoid sliding further toward a nuclear confrontation, because that is where sanity lies. Only time will tell if the pomp and circumstances of the summit will lead anywhere, but taking time out from a war of words in a push-button world is not the worst idea I have heard.

It is Father’s Day, so I am thinking about my role as a father and grandfather and my ongoing responsibility to my family and my country. It’s just like every father in America. And how does that mesh with what is a fast-changing world?

I am thinking specifically about the not-so-funny- thing that happened on President Trump’s way to Singapore. He made a brief stop in Quebec for what was supposed to be the G-7 meeting. It turned out to be something very different.

G-7 is the term used to describe the seven major industrialized countries — Canada, Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States — which have been meeting together for the past five decades. It is no coincidence that the G-7 also describes most of America’s best friends on the planet.

President Trump is less than enthusiastic about most of the G-7 leaders and showed his disdain during his abbreviated trip to Canada on the way to his history-making summit in Singapore.

He expressed his dislike — specifically for Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — by removing the United States from the pablum-filled communique that was agreed to by all the members and by allowing his spokesmen to publicly attack Trudeau, one of whom claimed there “was a special place in hell” for the Canadian leader who, frankly, did and said nothing bad. (How could he? He is from Canada.)

So, the question is: Why? And, more important, who benefits from such outrageous treatment of our friends and allies. After all, when the United States goes to war, who is always standing at our side, shoulder to shoulder with our men and women in uniform? You guessed it, the nice people of Canada.

That’s where my dad’s words ring loudest in my ears. He used tell me that there are times in the news business when you just can’t understand why something is happening. There are no obvious explanations for certain behavior, and no amount of logic or reason can account for what is happening. In those cases, he would say, “Just follow the money.”

Well, I don’t have the resources to follow the money in President Trump’s life. Not many news companies do these days. But, I know who does.

His name is Bob Mueller, and he is the special counsel for the Justice Department who is investigating Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election. Yes, it really did happen. Russia interfered on Trump’s behalf. And news reports indicate that the Russians are doing it again in 2018.

So Mueller is following the money and, as best I can tell, there are lots of trails leading into and out of people involved in Trumpworld. Whether it is criminal and whether it goes all the way to the top is still an open question and one which Mueller is trying to answer, one way or the other.

Meantime, we can ask the question, “ Who wins when Trump drives wedges between the United States and our G-7 friends and allies?”

Why it is Russia, of course, a country whose leader, Vladimir Putin, has long tried to create mistrust between and among the U.S. and its European allies. He has tried without success. In just one day, though, Trump has managed to send all of our friends scampering back to their capitals wondering whether their longtime friend and unshakable ally will continue to be the United States that has always had their back. Or, is there a new world order in the making which may not include them?

So, now we have our longtime adversary, Putin, absolutely gleeful in the potential unwinding of the close-knit and unshakable G-7 family. And the American president, for the first time in history, doing his bidding.

Have a happy Father’s Day.

Tomorrow, America must follow the money.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.