Yesterday, British Prime Minister Teresa May made clear that the nation of Russia was highly likely responsible, according to their evidence, for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. She made clear – before the House of Commons – that the substance either came directly from Russia or was distributed to another actor by Russia, in order to administer the poison. Either way, the Prime Minister’s conclusion was that Russia was most likely responsible.
It has been also reported that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when questioned extensively about this issue by the press during yesterday’s briefing, specifically about Trump’s feelings about “Russia engaging in a chemical warfare of sorts,” at most, provided affirmation that “the United States stands by its ally (Great Britain) but refused to acknowledge the role Russia played in the poisoning. The most negative thing Sanders seemed able to muster was how the event was an outrage, but avoided pointing the finger at Russia. As a reader and American citizen we all need to be asking one question: Why? Under any other Administration the reaction would have been swift, decisive and declarative.
Rex Tillerson, now former Secretary of State, and about number 51 to leave the revolving door of the Trump Administration, who also learned of his termination via Tweet this morning, made a statement about that particular incident of poisoning on his flight back from Nigeria yesterday while opining about the incident. Reported by the Washington Post, the following was stated:
“U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cast the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain as part of a “certain unleashing of activity” by Russia that the United States is struggling to understand. He warned that the poisoning would “certainly trigger a response.”
Tillerson went further and stated: “I cannot understand why anyone would take such an action. But this is a substance that is known to us and does not exist widely,” Tillerson told reporters as he flew from Nigeria to Washington. “It is only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.” Indeed.
According to the Prime Minister of Britain, the nerve agent Novichock, ” used against ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, was developed by the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War.”
This morning, Tillerson was fired, and furthermore, The Post is reporting that nobody “was more surprised than Rex Tillerson.”
So please tell me: Why does this President or anyone in his Administration have such difficulty saying anything negative about Russia, its President, or what takes place at the hands of Russians? Why no sanctions? Not a word, it seems, on any single negative development in Russia. Even Vice-President, Mike Pence has marginalized the impact of the Russians meddling in our electoral process. Pence went so far as to argue in an interview with Mike Allen, from Axios, the following:
“The first thing we all agree on is that irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.”
And yet, those who support this President with unfettered loyalty wonder aloud, what the big deal is should it be proven that Russia, did in fact, interfere with the election and Trump campaign officials assisted? It appears these individuals neglect to realize that if Russia tampered – as it is believed – with our election assisting Donald Trump to becoming President, a debt will need to be paid back to them by the President. Could this lame reaction by the President and his administration regarding what is arguably an act of terror on one of our strongest allies be one such example? Why the difficulty? Why the delay? Even Trump’s comment on the incident, made today, reflects a cognitive dissonance of sorts when he opined on the matter earlier today by saying:
“Washington will condemn Moscow if it agrees with Britain’s findings, adding that he would discuss the incident with May” (Emphasis mine).
If it agrees? With both intelligence apparatuses being considered near equals, what would it take to convince Trump, especially should our intelligence community agree, that Britain’s findings were realistic? Further, what if the intelligence communities agree, but Trump refuses to acknowledge those findings?
Yet, Congressional Republicans have shut down the committee tasked with investigating Russian interference with our election and whether the Trump campaign worked with them during the 2016 cycle, repeating the oft stated words of Trump: “No collusion.” In effect, this Committee has broken with their own intelligence community’s assessment. But wait: That was not this Committee’s reason for being established, was it? No. It surely was not! It was established to get to the bottom of exactly what took place during the 2016 election and how Russia interfered in our election, preventing it from taking place again.
Recently, the head of the NSA again reiterated how this operation of infiltration into our electoral process is ongoing. Also, the State Department was provided resources to counter this effort and to date, not one single penny has been spent. Worse? Mr. Trump has not issued one single directive to take steps to prevent Russian interference into our election process. Not one.
So, to those asking what the big deal is should Russia have done what all intelligence communities believe they did; interfere with our election, and now, poisoned a man in one of our allies lands, it may be time for them to re-evaluate. How will these individuals respond should a poisoning occur here in the United States? Trump may continue firing those who differ with his assessment of Russia, and the committee can disband from finding out the truth, but in the end voters will decide on whether all these moving parts are just one big coincidence. Robert Mueller on the other hand, will decide whether laws have been violated, and that is why this all matters.
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!