Trump and Putin at G20 in Hamburg
Credit: Алексей М/Flickr

How much more obvious does this have to get?

Some senior Trump administration officials are pressing for more aggressive action toward Russia, hoping to persuade a reluctant President Trump to change his approach after a week of mass diplomatic expulsions that have driven the relationship with Moscow to its lowest point in decades…

Mr. Trump has remained publicly silent amid the dramatic rounds of diplomatic retaliation, leaving it to others to condemn Moscow. Frustrated by the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into whether his campaign cooperated with Russia in 2016, a scenario he dismissed as a “hoax,” Mr. Trump recently called Mr. Putin to congratulate him on his victory in a re-election widely dismissed as a sham.

It’s difficult to write about this situation without falling into expletive and hyperbole, because there’s no language suitable to describe it without superlatives generously sprinkled with four-letter words.

The United States is being led by a president who “won” an election with the open help of the Russian foreign intelligence service, which hacked the private campaign and personal emails of the president’s political opponents and released them through an organization led by a man hiding in an embassy on the run from rape charges. The president lost the popular vote by over 3 million ballots, but has proceeded to govern as if he had won a gigantic mandate and with the most aggressive partisan tactics in modern political history. The ensuing investigation into the president’s campaign ties to Russia quickly morphed into an obstruction of justice probe, as the president fired James Comey and then openly admitted to journalist Lester Holt that he did so to squash the Russia probe. A large number of the president’s associates are under indictment or have pleaded guilty to charges related to collusion with Russia during the campaign.

Not once has the president criticized Vladimir Putin or taken any significant action against Russia, even as it murders dissidents in Europe in broad daylight and pursues foreign policy objectives directly against the interests of the United States. Even when the president was presented with a memo loudly blaring “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” he nonetheless congratulated Putin after an election “victory” amid widespread allegations of intimidation and video evidence of ballot stuffing. The president’s son has bragged of getting most of the family’s real estate investments loans from Russian sources, and the shady details of Trump’s business dealings have not been made public, nor have the president’s tax returns. Intelligence sources with deep knowledge of Russia stated in the famous Steele dossier, provided as opposition research to both Democrats and Republicans, that it was openly believed that Russia had compromising material on then-candidate Trump of both a personal and financial nature.

If Donald Trump were innocent of collusion with Russia, and if he were not an active blackmail target of the Russian regime, it would be in his political interest to go overboard in distancing himself from Putin and making clear his displeasure with Russia and its actions. Instead of typing “NO COLLUSION” into his twitter feed, he would prove the case by acting aggressively to punish Putin for his actions and defend American democracy from any future meddling.

Instead, even his closest advisers cannot bring him to do even the bare minimum. His Republican Congressional lackeys have worked hard to run interference for him and discredit the investigation, but those efforts have mostly backfired. His entire administration is a such a mess of poorly considered hires and fires that the White House doors might as well be a turnstile. No one can corral or even push the president to do what would be required to even appear innocent.

Everyone knows. Everyone. The only question is the details and proving the case. And yet, day after day rolls by in which a president who is obviously compromised by a hostile foreign power that committed massive felonies to put him in office, still continues to occupy the Oval Office not just as a placeholder, but as a wrackful whirlwind of destruction of decency and democratic norms.

There are dozens of people who know the truth. It would only take one of them to expose this charlatan once and for all, and end this incredible charade. At some point a sense of patriotism and pride in democracy must overtake personal ambition and fear of recrimination before it’s too late.

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Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.