“Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Under the Constitution, these are the offenses for which presidents can be impeached. And to hear our elites, Donald Trump is guilty of them all, reported The Unz Review (US) by Patrick J. Buchanan. Trump’s refusal to challenge Vladimir Putin’s claim at Helsinki — that his GRU boys did not hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign — has been called treason, a refusal to do his sworn duty to protect and defend the United States, by a former director of the CIA. Famed journalists and former high officials of the U.S. government have called Russia’s hacking of the DNC “an act of war” comparable to Pearl Harbor. The New York Times ran a story on how many are now charging Trump with treason. Others suggest Putin is blackmailing Trump, or has him on his payroll, or compromised Trump a long time ago. Wailed Congressman Steve Cohen: “Where is our military folks? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!” Apparently, some on the left believe we need a military coup to save our democracy. Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a “conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” have such charges been hurled at a president. But while the Birchers were a bit outside the mainstream, today it is the establishment itself bawling “Treason!” What explains the hysteria? The worst-case scenario would be that the establishment actually believes the nonsense it is spouting. But that is hard to credit. Like the boy who cried “Wolf!” the establishment has cried “Fascist!” too many times to be taken seriously. A month ago, the never-Trumpers were comparing the separation of immigrant kids from detained adults, who brought them to the U.S. illegally, to FDR’s concentration camps for Japanese-Americans. Some commentators equated the separations to what the Nazis did at Auschwitz. If the establishment truly believed this nonsense, it would be an unacceptable security risk to let them near the levers of power ever again. Using Occam’s razor, the real explanation for this behavior is the simplest one: America’s elites have been driven over the edge by Trump’s successes and their failure to block him. Trump is deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, appointing record numbers of federal judges, reshaping the Supreme Court, and using tariffs to cut trade deficits and the bully pulpit to castigate freeloading allies. Worst of all, Trump clearly intends to carry out his campaign pledge to improve relations with Russia and get along with Vladimir Putin. “Over our dead bodies!” the Beltway elite seems to be shouting. Hence the rhetorical WMDs hurled at Trump: Liar, dictator, authoritarian, Putin’s poodle, fascist, demagogue, traitor, Nazi. Such language approaches incitement to violence. One wonders if the haters are considering the impact of the words they are so casually using. Some of us yet recall how Dallas was charged with complicity in the death of JFK for slurs far less toxic than this. The post-Helsinki hysteria reveals not merely the mindset of the president’s enemies, but the depth of their determination to destroy him. They intend to break Trump and bring him down, to see him impeached, removed, indicted and prosecuted, and the agenda on which he ran and was nominated and elected dumped onto the ash heap of history. Thursday, Trump indicated that he knows exactly what is afoot, and threw down the gauntlet of defiance: “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war. They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin.” Spot on. Trump is saying: I am going to call off this Cold War II before it breaks out into the hot war that nine U.S. presidents avoided, despite Soviet provocations far graver than Putin’s pilfering of DNC emails showing how Debbie Wasserman Schultz stuck it to Bernie Sanders. Then the White House suggested Vlad may be coming to dinner this fall. Trump is edging toward the defining battle of his presidency: a reshaping of U.S. foreign policy to avoid clashes and conflicts with Russia, and the shedding of Cold War commitments no longer rooted in the national interests of this country. Yet, should he attempt to carry out his agenda — to get out of Syria, pull troops out of Germany, take a second look at NATO’s Article 5 commitment to go to war for 29 nations, some of which, like Montenegro, most Americans have never heard of — he is headed for the most brutal battle of his presidency. This Helsinki hysteria is but a taste. By cheering Brexit, dissing the EU, suggesting NATO is obsolete, departing Syria, trying to get on with Putin, Trump is threatening the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment with what it fears most — irrelevance. For if there is no war on, no war imminent, and no war wanted, what does a War Party do? *** As a trial judge in New Jersey during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush years, I spent much of my time trying to settle cases. This process involved bringing into my chambers the lawyers for the disputants and asking them in the absence of their adversaries to lay their cards on the table, reported LewRosckwell. After I found out what the litigants truly wanted and I did some pushing and shoving and jawboning, more often than not, agreements were reached. The threat of an imminent jury trial — with its expenses, complexities and uncertainties — was often enough to bring the parties to a quick, sensible and relatively inexpensive resolution. Occasionally, flattery — even fatuous flattery — helped. All trial judges in America are familiar with this process. It takes place in criminal, as well as civil, cases in every courthouse in the country nearly every day. But it takes place in secret. I could not imagine announcing to the public the state of the negotiations or my opinions of any of the negotiators midstream. If compelled by some arcane custom to do so, I’d have praised the unpraiseworthy — to help bring about a favorable result. I was reminded of all this earlier in the week as I watched the politically unpopular performance of President Donald Trump at an internationally televised — and now much-analyzed — joint news conference he held with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It appears that because he did not utter anything like President Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” referring to the Berlin Wall, or “trust but verify,” referring to U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms treaties and because he gave public credence to Putin’s private and incredulous denials of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, he somehow came across as weak or insufficiently American. At this writing, no nationally known Republican officeholder except Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has come publicly to the president’s defense. Some in the Democratic Party and some of my colleagues in the media have even accused Trump of treason. How misunderstanding they are. Here is the back story. For 18 months, Trump has sought to develop a personal relationship with Putin unlike any relationship that any modern American president has had with him or his predecessors. The Democrats and Republican never-Trumpers doubt Trump’s bona fides and even his intellect. “Who could cut a deal with a monster?” they have bellowed. Make no mistake; Putin is a monster. He has invaded Ukraine, bombed rebels in Syria, shored up fanatics in Iran, imprisoned political opponents on false charges and stolen billions from Russian oligarchs and the Russian people. To this litany of criminality, Trump has wisely asked: How have any of his monstrosities harmed the United States? Answer: None of this is morally sound, and all of it is profoundly unlawful, but none of it has harmed us. This realization has led Trump — in defiance of the advice from his own secretary of state, CIA director and national security adviser — to try to understand Putin and to negotiate with him. There is much to negotiate about. We want the Russians to stay out of our computers and away from our elections. We want them to stop trying to reorganize the Middle East. And we want them to reduce their nuclear and long-range offensive weaponry. Of course, they want the same from us. I don’t know whether Putin can be reasoned with. But I believe that if anyone can do it, Donald Trump can. This is what made me think this past week of all those litigations I helped to resolve. Negotiations are often fluid. They take time and patience, as well as threats and flattery, and they cannot be successful under a microscope. Stated differently, Trump knows how to negotiate, and his skills cannot be assessed midstream — because midstream is often muddy and muddled. Trump’s efforts this week were just a beginning. His public praise of Putin and giving moral equivalence to Putin and our intelligence services were not to state truths but to influence Putin’s thinking in order to bend Putin’s will — eventually — to his own. But the neocons in Congress will have none of this. The power of American arms-makers is formidable and profound. They have acolytes in all branches of the federal government. They depend on the threats of foreign governments to animate taxpayer funding of their armaments. They know that Russia is the only threat in Europe, and they fear that if President Trump reaches a meaningful rapprochement with President Putin, there will result a diminished American appetite for their weaponry. And they know that Donald Trump understands that. So they have jumped on a fluid long-term negotiation at its inception by mocking the president’s flattery. They would have mocked Franklin Roosevelt for calling monstrous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin “Uncle Joe” as he bent him to his will. Where does this leave us? We have impatient media that hate the president, a bipartisan majority in Congress beholden to the military-industrial complex, and a president who knows more about negotiating with bad guys than any of them. And unlike the warmongers, the president is willing to talk to anyone if there is a chance it could result in peace. President Lyndon B. Johnson often remarked that there are two things in life you never want to watch being made and only want to see when completed: legislation and sausages. We should add international peace to that short list.
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