Taking Back America
The 2016 election was a significant victory for Russian intelligence against the United States, but as anyone knows how the 1939 invasion of Poland ended for Germany, the first battle does not determine who will win the war. We were taken entirely unaware, our citizenry still stunned by the fallout of these unthinkable events, but the attack on Pearl Harbor did not sideline us then, and this combination cyberattack (stealing voter information, penetrating the DNC/RNC, publishing stolen files meant discredit the U.S. intelligence apparatus, etc.) and propaganda campaign should not, either. Here are some things you need to know:
Congress Isn’t Idle
Despite an initially rocky start and some really dumb sabotage attempts along the way (Devin Nunes), there are bipartisan investigations going in both the House and Senate. This issue is hideously complex. Not only was the attack itself sophisticated and multifaceted, it is increasingly obvious to everyone who has been paying attention that Russia had help from American citizens, without which the operation to place Trump in office would never have succeeded.
Investigating this attack as a matter of criminal interest is politically fraught for both parties. Democrats don’t want to be seen making this a partisan spectacle – a temptation given that their party was the obvious loser in this. Republicans are kind of terrified at where this investigation could go, since it appears that some members of their party (mostly operatives but also some politicians like Dana Rohrabacher who have gotten very cozy with Russia) could be implicated in pretty heavy crimes, which would definitely hurt the electoral prospects of the Republican party. As well, they are facing some pretty clear internal resistance from colleagues and wealthy donors who would like for them to pretend this whole Russia attack never happened (as cynical, hyperpartisan, and downright unpatriotic as that may be).
Instead, the Congressional investigations appear to be focused on how the Kremlin was able to compromise our electoral process and what can be done to prevent it from ever happening again. As with the response to 9/11, this will almost certainly include some remedies that seem no-brainers (the equivalent of putting a locked door between the cockpit and the passenger compartment), some whose efficacy will not be obvious to the average American (perhaps a new social media surveillance program meant to identify and shut down foreign propaganda attacks), and some whose value we’ll still be debating a decade from now.
When they’ve concluded their investigations, made their recommendations, and passed the necessary legislation, our country will be significantly less vulnerable to similar future attacks.
Mueller Has Got This
The special counsel and his dream team of prosecutors have their work cut out for them. To them falls the task of investigating any wrongdoing committed by anyone within the reach of American law enforcement and bringing the perpetrators to justice under U.S. law. This is an at times frustratingly slow process – both because the list of suspected crimes is so long and because some of those violations are so grave. Also, he has to take steps to head off a literal constitutional crisis in the form of Trump trying to pardon himself and all his co-conspirators in, well, let’s not sugarcoat it – probable espionage and possibly treason.
Robert Mueller runs a tight ship. Any leaks we get through the media are not accidental but deliberate, strategic. They don’t represent a hundredth of what his team already knows. Their purpose is to panic the guilty so that they make deadly mistakes, to give Republicans in Congress political cover for the necessary impeachment, and to educate and prepare the public for some very rude shocks concerning the severity of the attack that was made against us.
Despite Trump’s “best” efforts and the mendacity of far too many lawmakers, we are still a nation of laws, and justice is coming. But we must be patient on this front. His team’s job is to sort perpetrators into groups and ensure they are punished accordingly:
- Those who knowingly and intentionally aided a hostile foreign power in an attack against our democratic processes. Espionage and treason are both potentially capital crimes. It’s been a long time since America executed someone for espionage or treason (the Rosenbergs in 1953), but at the very least these people are going to jail for a long, long time – quite probably for the rest of their lives.
- Those who violated the law in less spectacular ways – whether it was aiding and abetting crimes, engaging in “willful blindness” regarding suspicious behavior (political ads paid for in Russian rubles? Really?), lying on disclosures for which doing so is a felony (Jared Kushner times, what are we up to now? 200?), perjury (Sessions), laundering money (Manafort), or obstructing justice (seemingly everyone in this administration). Many of these people will also be going to jail, although probably not for as long as those who engaged in espionage.
- Those who did some suspicious-looking stuff along the way but didn’t actually commit a crime. They will (and should) be found innocent and remain free. It is of critical importance that only the guilty be punished, especially when some of the crimes of which people are likely to be accused carry such severe penalties.
- Those who are not suspected of crimes but who have information that is vital to the successful prosecution of those in the first two categories.
This takes work and time, and there is no margin of error.
Ordinary Citizens are Stepping up
Those of us who have joined the Indivisible movement know that Democrats, progressives, and sensible moderates are fully engaged in the fight against the worst impulses of the Trump administration. Marches, phone calls, letters, support of Democratic candidates in 200+ districts nationwide, and so many lawsuits – we have been tireless in our vigilance (if more than a little irritated by the necessity). Together we have stopped healthcare legislation that would have made us sicker (and we will beat tax cuts that raise taxes on the middle class, too. We have beaten back Muslim bans and assaults on 1st Amendment rights. We have brought eye-popping graft and corruption into the light such that several members of Trump’s wrecking crew of a cabinet have been forced to resign. And though every day brings fresh horrors and outrages, we will continue to fight this administration’s policies. For the sake of our friends and families, for the sake of our neighbors, for the sake of ourselves, we have very little choice.
It might surprise you to learn that we have allies in our fight against Trump – ones who are just as disgusted by what he represents as we are. They revere the rule of law. They detest Trump’s “champagne cabinet,” which is both incompetent and wasteful of taxpayer money. They hate Trump’s cavalier attitude toward U.S. military power and his contempt for our diplomatic corps. And perhaps more than anything, they’re mad as hell that people assume to think they’re Trump supporters because he is “on their side.” I’m talking about moderate Republicans. Not their politicians, necessarily (gerrymandering has arguably been an even bigger problem for moderate Republicans than for Democrats, since it means they face nutjob challengers in the primaries instead of Democrats in the general election), but a sizeable contingent of Never Trump pundits, members of the intelligence community and law enforcement, and ordinary citizens who recognize how abnormal and damaging Trump and his sycophants (inside and outside of Washington) have been. These are people with whom a Democrat (whether moderate or progressive) will find plenty to disagree about, but we at least agree that Trump needs to go – impeachment or resignation, none of us really care which.