Sunday, December 11, 2016

Russiagate only gets worse: why the President-elect is a YUGE security risk


Some of this has been a matter of public record all along. Some of it comes from the Dworkin Report, which is currently on President Obama's desk. No doubt Trump supporters will summarily dismiss it because of its origins and obvious agenda. But like things you hear on Fox News, each point needs to be evaluated on the basis of the evidence, not summarily dismissed because of its origin- and the report, which can be downloaded from the link in the second sentence of this paragraph, presents plenty of evidence to evaluate.

Scott Dworkin is a very partisan Democrat. That should be made clear. But the report on Donald Trump's investments in geopolitically sensitive and sometimes outright unfriendly countries- and with Russian governmental and business leaders- is chilling.

Take it with as much salt as you wish. But access the report on the basis of its evidence, not of its origins.  Or better still, simply believe Newsweek, which lays the whole problem out on one page in simple language. There's even a video.

The President-elect keeps repeating the lie that he doesn't know Russian President Vladimir Putin.We know for certain that this is a lie because he has previously bragged that he does. Dworkin says that Donald Trump has, in fact, met with Putin at least twice. Trump has also lied egregiously about the extent of business ties in Russia, Iran, Taiwan,  and Saudi Arabia.

Trump, it seems,  has actively been lobbying to expand his business interests into Russia since 1987, has established extensive connections and investments there, has repeatedly visited Moscow to confer with Russian government officials, and maintains an extensive network of Russian associates and friends which he shares with Putin. Donald Trump, Jr. once said that his father's extensive foreign investments were "disproportionately" in the former.

And he's apparently about to appoint the American who is closest to Putin as Secretary of State.

These are serious matters. It may be true, as Trump apologists point out, that Trump's debts to Russian, Chinese, and Iranian companies with close ties to the government- debts that may be in the hundreds of billions of dollars- are business loans from which Trump could escape serious trouble by simply declaring bankruptcy, as he has six times before. But they still raise a serious conflict of interest for an American president. At least 250 Trump companies could easily be used to conceal foreign payments to Trump, who has a track record of diverting funds to his personal use from his campaign, from his tax-free foundation, and- yes- from his companies. Tax records show that Trump understated his salaries from those companies by millions of dollars in his income tax returns in 1995 alone- possibly one reason why he refused to release his returns during the campaign, falsely claiming that it would somehow be improper to do so while he's being audited. This is apparently an ethical rule which Trump has imposed on himself; the practice is common, and Richard Nixon, for one, released his returns while under audit.

Trump's history of fishy finances and blurred lines between his personal income and that of his campaign, his foundation, and his businesses make his huge foreign debt- again, much of which is in Russia, China, and Iran- a serious conflict of interest and simply cannot be seen otherwise than as compromising our national security. The question is not of whether Trump has taken or will take payoffs from the Russian, Chinese, Iranian or other governments, and I don't believe for a moment that he will. The point is that if he did, his finances are arranged in such a way that there would be no way of anybody finding out!

Further, his blatant and repeated lies regarding the extent of his investments in those countries, the degree of his debt, the size of his salaries, and his ties to Putin, together with his refusal to release his income tax returns, not only muddy the waters but increase the already weighty reasons why his inauguration would be the biggest security risk in the history of the United States and possibly of the Western democracies.

We are about to inaugurate a president who would beyond a shadow of a doubt be denied even the lowest-level security clearance the American government issues if he were applying for a job as, say, a guard at a defense plant. Combine that with an ignorance of the Constitution which raises serious questions as to whether Mr. Trump could pass the test to become a U.S. citizen, and we have big trouble, folks.

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