Opinion

The Divide: Benedict Arnold Trump’s “Quisling” moment

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The Divide: Benedict Arnold Trump’s “Quisling” moment

Trump’s undermining of his own, and our nation’s, intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election has some people calling Trump a “traitor” or his pronouncement “treacherous.”  The divide between Trump’s public stand agreeing with Putin and disparaging his own hand-picked “great” cabinet members is the widest divide between the executive and his cabinet in United States history.

Trump’s Helsinki press conference, and his outlandish statement that he took Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence: “I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” was a watershed moment for his presidency. It cemented Trump’s earlier praise for North Korea’s Supreme leader Kim Jung-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It went even further to show that Trump’s adoration for dictators and totalitarian regimes is the guiding force behind his foreign policy of denigrating America’s allies and getting on his knees to kiss the ass of America’s adversaries.

This way of conducting foreign relations, putting a foreign power’s interests over and above one’s own country, is known as “Quisling.” Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian traitor, who, during World War II, sided with Hitler and the Third Reich over his own country. “Quisling” is used to describe various European puppet regimes during the Nazi occupation. “Quisling” is considered a slur for an individual, in this case Trump, to favor a foreign nation more than his own. Many newspaper editorial writers and television news commentators came out after the Helsinki press event and questioned whether or not Trump has made himself one of Putin’s puppets. It seems that Trump’s statements following his meeting with Putin, fit the definition of “Quisling,” to a tee.   

Not once during the 45-minute press conference, standing side by side with Putin, did Trump name a single action for which Putin should be held accountable. Not the seizure of Crimea. Not the support for the insurgents in the Ukraine. Not the involvement of Russia in shooting down a Malaysian Airline plane four years ago. Not the poisoning of Putin opponents in London in 2006 and earlier this year. Not the Russian cyberattacks. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In fact, during the question and answer period of the press conference, when Trump was asked about Crimea, and he stood there open-mouthed, not knowing what to say, Putin jumped in and said, “of course the American president objected.” Too bad Putin’s mouth moved, and Trump’s did not, or else we could assume that Putin was a ventriloquist and Trump the dummy on his knee.

The negative reaction to Trump’s disgraceful display of anti-America statements, came fast and furious. Senator John McCain (R) said, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” Newt Gingrich, former Republican House Speaker and a huge Trump supporter declared that Trump’s appearance at the news conference was “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” Senator Bob Corker (R), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated that he “did not think this was a good moment for our country.” But, it was a very good moment for Putin. Nebraska Republican Senator, Ben Sasse, took to the Senate floor and said, “Everyone in this body should be disgusted by what happened in Helsinki today.” And these comments were just from Trump’s Republican allies.

The Democrats and intelligence officials couldn’t wait to weigh in on the Trump press conference. New York Senator Charles Schumer stated, “Our security is at risk.”  And Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, wrote in a letter to her colleagues, “Trump cowered before President Putin, and engaged in a dangerous, disgraceful and damaging show of his Blame America First policy…” On the intelligence side, current and former officials speared no venom for Trump’s disparaging of the US intelligence community. Dan Coats, Trump’s director of national intelligence put out a statement, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.” One unnamed official said it’s clear whose side Trump was on, and “it isn’t ours.”

The strongest and most powerful response to Trump’s siding with the enemy, came from former CIA director John O. Brennan. Mr. Brennan tweeted, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???” How did Trump respond to Brennan? In his usual manner, of course, granting an interview to ‘Trump,’ sorry,  I meant FOX News. Trump defended himself by calling Brennan “a very bad guy…a bad person.” It still amazes me how limited Trump’s vocabulary is, even after 18 months in office. And, in trying to defend himself, Trump falls back to school yard bullying tactics by calling people names. He does this because he doesn’t have the wherewithal to defend himself with an intelligent response.

Brennan, in a television interview, said that he equates his use of the term, ‘nothing short of treasonous,’ to “the betrayal of one’s nation, aiding, abetting, giving comfort to an enemy.” Article 2. Executive. Section 4. Disqualification. of the United States Constitution states, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  So, if Trump’s support for Putin and Russia, in direct conflict with the security of the United States, is considered to be treasonous and the House votes to impeach and the Senate finds Trump guilty, Trump, Pence, and their appointed civil officers will be removed from office.

Trump’s “Quisling” moment has turned Trump’s favorable news cycle that began in during the last half of June into what could be the most damaging period of his presidency. Trump’s dissing of both our NATO allies and his own security department chiefs, in order to mollify Putin, may finally be the straw that broke the Donald’s back. I also wonder if the “Quisling” moment will forever link Trump with Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, Marcus Julius Brutus, and Vidkun Quisling on the list of the world’s most notorious traitors? Et tu, Donald?

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