I do not like Shakespeare much. I am not fond of iambic pentameter blank verse plays with actors in period costumes. If anything, my theatre taste leans towards Broadway musicals of the 50’s and 60’s, say Guys and Dolls, Damn Yankees and The Music Man. But I will grant you that Shakespeare had a special way with words, some which still resonate in our political discourse of today – “Now is the winter of our discontent”, “Cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war”, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, “We have seen better days” and of course my favorite “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.
That last quote brings to mind Donald Trump’s obsession with things Russian and obstruction of justice related. He keeps saying that they are a hoax, fake news, a charade orchestrated by a cabal of evil forces dead set at discrediting his election won by millions of votes cast in his favor – as certified by the Sean Spicer and confirmed by photographs of his inauguration.
But let us tally what we know took place: on June 6, 2016 Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manaford, all key players in the Trump presidential campaign, met with Russian operatives offering to deliver evidence of Hillary Clinton’s criminal misconduct; Roger Stone, a long time Trump friend and confidante, was in contact with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange who released confidential Clinton and Democratic National Committee emails; Senator Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General Sessions, met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and after perjuring himself in his Senate confirmation hearing had to recuse from further involvement; Jared Kushner lied and committed perjury by failing to disclose numerous meetings and contacts with Russian interests, including meetings with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state owned Russian bank and concealed numerous financial assets during his security vetting; Michael Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General fired as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was hired as Trump’s National Security Advisor notwithstanding warnings of his questionable conduct [failure to disclose his ties to Russian TV and Vladimir Putin] financial irregularities and contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; Paul Manafort, a lobbyist for the likes of former President and “Putin Puppet” Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, former dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mobutu Sese Seko and Angolan guerrilla Leader Jonas Savimbi, acted as Trump Presidential Campaign Chairman March-August, 2016 fired for allegedly receiving $18 million in foreign payments; James Comey, the FBI Director who was leading a “counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of [President] Trump may have coordinated with Russia to interfere with the US presidential election” was fired for “damage[ing] the credibility of the FBI and the Justice Department” upon the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General and the Attorney General which was promptly contradicted by President Trump who told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off”; two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] orders authorized surveillance and tapping of Paul Manafort and possibly other subjects.
Add to this litany of facts the uncontroverted conclusion that “all 16 government intelligence agencies … have independently investigated the security breaches and concluded that the Russian government – in the words off the U.S. Intelligence Community – ‘directed’ the hacking ‘to interfere with the US election process.’” In fact, on September 22nd James Clapper the former National Intelligence Director in a televised interview said “the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election “casts doubt on the legitimacy” of President Trump’s victory. He is quoted as saying “our intelligence community assessment did serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election.”
In response Donald Trump issues flat denials, bold obfuscations, multi-faceted deflections and a thousand tweets, a few of which I quote:
“Funny how the failing @nytimes is pushing Dems narrative that Russia is working for me because Putin said „Trump is a genius.“ America 1st!”
“In order to try and deflect the horror and stupidity of the Wikileakes disaster, the Dems said maybe it is Russia dealing with Trump. Crazy!”
“Unless you catch „hackers“ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn’t this brought up before election?”
“Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is „A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.“ Very unfair!”
“Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably…”
“The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!”
“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!”
“Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!”
“Money to Bill, the Hillary Russian „reset,“ praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!”
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony…”
“… Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”
“Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election”
“Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”
“Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.”
Donald Trump’s continuing denial of facts proves their veracity. It will be for the ultimate trier of the facts – the Senate acting upon a Bill of Impeachment or a trial jury acting upon a criminal indictment – to decide guilt or innocence.
Deyan Ranko Brashich is a contributor writing from New York. He is the author of Letters from America, Contrary Views and Dispatches. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com.