Trump’s State Department Poses a Grave National Security Threat

It is a travesty that one man has swiftly tarnished America’s reputation on the world stage, but it is increasingly apparent that it is part of Trump’s plan to isolate America from the rest of the civilized world.

An integral element of Trump’s isolationism plan is dismantling the country’s ability to conduct foreign affairs with other nations without inciting new tensions or inflaming long-simmering hostilities. So it is little surprise that Trump’s oil industry CEO is actively dismantling the one agency tasked with “skillfully conducting relations with other nations” without arousing animosity or increasing enmity – the Department of State.

No sane human being could keep a straight face and say Donald Trump understands or embraces the concept of diplomacy, even on a rudimentary level. In fact, Trump is the embodiment of a rude and abrasive bully that makes enemies at the rate most people use a toilet. That lack of appreciation for the art of existing in a complex, and often antagonistic, world without being in a constant state of aggression epitomizes Donald Trump and belies his so-called “deal-making” acumen. It also explains why Rex Tillerson is purging the Department of State of highly-qualified career Foreign Service professionals that are one of the most valuable assets in keeping America safe, and the world from a perpetual state of war.

The New York Times reported late last week that long-serving diplomats are finally speaking out about Vladimir Putin’s love interest Rex Tillerson and the wholesale purge going on at the State Department. In an August Los Angeles Times article it was reported that “current and former State Department officials say it appears that one goal in the current reorganization is to reduce staff by attrition, what one critic called ‘death by a thousand cuts.’”

Apparently there is not a question of Tillerson’s motive in decimating the diplomatic positions en masse; “experts have been aware of Tillerson’s plot to destroy the State Department from the inside for months.”

For an idea how little Tillerson, as surrogate for Trump, thinks of America’s diplomats or their safety, it is worth noting how he disregards congressional legislation regarding how the Department functions. Despite Congress passing legislation in 2012 mandating that the top State Department security official have unrestricted access to Tillerson, he spent the first nine months in office refusing to meet with the State Department’s chief of security, Bill A. Miller. The New York Times reported that during those first nine months Tillerson turned down repeated, including urgent, requests from Miller and security staff to brief him according to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security officials.

The only way the top security guy, Mr. Miller, could be “allowed to speak to Mr. Tillerson” was after he forced the issue by citing the letter of the law and the requirement that he had to be given ‘unrestricted access’ to the country’s head diplomat, Tillerson. Miller was eventually “granted” just five minutes in Tillerson’s presence; despite the congressional mandate of “unrestricted access.”

Shortly thereafter, the career Foreign Service officer and chief of security was “pushed out” of the State Department. Mr. Miller joined a veritable parade of the State Department’s most senior diplomats as part of Tillerson’s “downsizing” effort. Instead of going quietly like Miller, other “departing” diplomats are making their sentiments, and concerns about the fate of the nation, a public issue. The diplomats speaking out may have had an impact on members of Congress who are raising their own questions about why Trump and Tillerson are “intentionally hollowing-out” the senior diplomatic ranks and “weakening” America on the global stage in the process.

Last week  the House Foreign Relations Committee issued a letter to Tillerson citingwhat they said was “the exodus of more than 100 senior Foreign Service officers from the State Department since January.” In the letter, Democrats expressed their concern about  “the intentional hollowing-out of our senior diplomatic ranks.” (author bold)

Members of the Senate also noticed that Tillerson was “deconstructing” America’s diplomatic corps at a time the nation can least afford to appear weakened or unwilling to discourse without using Twitter insults. In a bipartisan effort, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent Tillerson a letter similar to the House version expressing their concern. They warned the Putin-ally Tillerson that:

America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally.”

Most likely members of Congress are acutely aware that Trump has no intent in using America’s vanishing “diplomatic power” to deal with any international issues, much less “complex global crises;” he has a smart phone and a Twitter app.  Trump makes bizarre and offensive pronouncements and blatant threats as willingly as he pulls America out of international agreements; he has no use for diplomacy.

Tillerson has been on a dangerous  tear pushing senior diplomats out with no intent on replacing them since he assumed control; almost certainly under orders from Trump. In fact, about a month ago former Secretary of State, Republican Colin Powell warnedthe Trump administration that gutting the State Department posed a grave national security threat. Trump’s national security advisor told Mr. Powell the “purge” was because senior diplomats were “people who did not support the president’s agenda;” like conducting foreign policy matters through Twitter. Trump said at the time that he didn’t need diplomats because “I am the only one that matters.” He also said he wasn’t sure if he even needed Rex Tillerson; an ominous sign that an even more serious State Department purge could be in the offing.

Remember, in August Trump thanked his and Tillerson’s love interest Vladimir Putin for “cutting the diplomatic staff in Moscow” when he expelled 750 diplomats; Trump said they were not going to be replaced. It is also noteworthy that in keeping with Trump’s enmity towards women and minorities, disproportionate numbers of diplomats being “pushed out” are women and people of color. And Tillerson has not nominated anyone to fill any of the 34 top political positions still vacant at the State Department.

It is no secret that Trump’s intent for the government is dismantling as much of it as he can legally get away with; his various cabinet and agency appointees are sworn enemies of the departments they control. And despite how dangerous it is to suffer an administration openly dedicated to “deconstructing the administrative state,”  it is perilous beyond words to have a White House occupant directing his Secretary of State to deliberately destroy American “diplomatic power” from within.

It leaves one to ponder if Tillerson is, like Trump, doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding by reducing America’s diplomatic power, or if diplomatic solutions to  global issues are completely off the table in Trump’s America.  No matter what their motivation, Trump and Tillerson have transformed the State Department into a grave national security threat because according to Trump, he’s the only one that matters.

The Wrong Republicans Are Attacking Trump

Trump thrives on attention, but on Tuesday he likely wilted a little after being “viciously” assailed by not one, but two Senate Republicans with nothing to lose and an opportunity to at least say the right things about Trump. No matter how one assesses the damning indictments of Trump by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), it was refreshing to see they are not completely unpatriotic traitors to America like the preponderance of Republicans in Congress. Let’s face it, any Republican still supporting Trump after seven months of sheer terror and disaster is not concerned about America’s standing in the world or the clear and present danger to the nation Trump represents; Messrs. Flake and Corker certainly appear concerned and they didn’t hold back from showing their disregard for their Party’s tyrant in the White House.

Unlike a real standup Republican, Senator John McCain, both Flake and Corker are out of the Senate after 2018; Mr. McCain will be around to defame Trump for a few years and he has appropriately ratcheted up his criticism. However, both soon-departing Republicans leveled some serious charges of their own against Trump that no small numbers of pundits, including conservative pundits, and journalists have made since before Trump’s poorly-attending inauguration.

What is different about Mr. Flake’s harsh attack on Trump was he did it in an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate and in the company of his GOP colleagues; he did not fail to impugn the patriotism of his fellow Republicans. Senator Flake quoted a former Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, in a blatant slight against the GOP’s cowardice in protecting Trump. He said:

That there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

It is also “treasonable” to the United States because Republicans knew during the presidential campaign that Trump was colluding with a hostile foreign power and only spoke of Trump “being paid by Putin ” when they thought no-one was listening. Add to that acquiescence to what many regard as an act of treason, all Republicans heard Trump’s appeal to Russian spies to help him during the election and they said nothing except “we support Trump.”

While Mr. Flake spent a fair amount of his speech railing on Trump as a liar and a flagrantly divisive piece of work, he did concur with Senator Corker that Trump is decimating America’s standing around the world and threatening the global stability America historically attempts to maintain. Flake said that he was obliged to be critical of Trump.

As a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent …  as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters … is profoundly misguided.”

Senator Corker, while stopping short of openly admitting that he, like the rest of the world, thinks Trump is a threat to America’s national security, warned that there is a risk that Trump will start a world war. When pressed by an interviewer, Mr. Corker “refused to rule out that the President of the United States Trump poses a threat to national security.”  Corker said in response to another prompt to come clean about Trump being a threat to America:

I think there are people around him that work in an effort to contain him” referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he did appear to accept the premise of the question of Trump’s threat to national security saying he worries that “Trump’s recklessness could lead us into a world war.” He explained:

“I do think when you have the kind of issues we’re dealing with in North Korea, where we have a very unstable leader there, when you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap — which is what he’s done, publicly — when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy, you have to depend on to bring China to the table, to do the things that need to be done, when you kneecap that effort, you move our country into a binary choice that could lead us into a world war.”

It should be obvious that everything both Corker and Flake are saying is true and common knowledge to most Americans, but it is likely too little too late. There is absolutely nothing two United States senators can do about Trump except talk. Only Republicans in the House have any authority to begin any serious proceedings against Trump and it is increasingly curious why they are not inclined to act. After all, they have Pence waiting in the wings to rubber stamp every policy near and dear to cruel Republicans’ hearts, so it must be something else; maybe that no small number of congressional Republicans received aid from Russia.

 There is also the issue of these two Senators’ leaving office. At the same time they have nothing to lose by assailing Trump as a liar and a threat to America, leaving the Senate also diminishes the impact of their criticism. However, it was crucially important that Mr. Corker warned of the risk of Trump starting a world war, and that Mr. Flake unloaded on Trump in front of his Republican Senate colleagues.

It is noteworthy that everything both Corker and Flake said is a reiteration of what an increasing number of pundits, including conservative pundits, have been saying about Trump. It may aid in garnering support among other Republicans, especially in the House, to take action against a clear and present danger to America’s national security, it’s struggling democracy, as well as peace in the world.

Unfortunately, Republicans are too cowardly to address a real threat to America. Their cowardice makes the two Republican Senators attack on Trump good entertainment value as well as an irritant to Trump, but until the rest of the Party ends their “unpatriotic and servile” devotion to a gross failure like Trump, they are all “committing a morally treasonable offense against the American people.”

Impeach Mike Pence For Continuing to Lie About Michael Flynn

 

One can’t help but wonder why, or how, all these devout evangelical Republicans violate one the most well-known commandments from the “Big Ten” and do it with conviction. Mike Pence, the religious right zealot Trump put in charge of running the government took the time again to lie about when he learned that Trump’s pick to run the NSA was a paid foreign agent for Turkey and had discussed lifting sanctions with the Russians during the transition. For a so-called Christian who wants every student in America to be exposed to and indoctrinated into learning the Ten Commandments, it’s obvious Pence is either grossly ignorant of those god-rules or is a pathological liar like the rest of the Trump administration.

The revelation that Michael Flynn informed the Trump through his lawyer that he was an agent for the Turkish government before being appointed as national security advisor gave Pence an opportunity to do the Christian thing and tell the truth. However, instead of acknowledging that as head of the transition team he did know about Flynn’s foreign agent status and supported Flynn’s appointment as national security advisor, Mike Pence stood by his previous lie and claimed through a spokesperson that “ The Vice President stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding General Flynn’s ties to Turkey.”

Pence lied and claimed in March that he first learned about Michael Flynn’s Turkish lobbying work through media reports and he is standing by that easily debunked lie. He is lying even after the “new report indicating [that] Flynn informed the transition team in January that he was under federal investigation for not properly disclosing the paid work.”

Of course Pence knew about Flynn’s status long before January, but it is beyond the pale that he expects any sane human being to believe that as head of Trump’s transition team that he only learned that Flynn was a foreign agent two months later after Flynn informed the Trump transition team that he was under investigation for being a paid foreign agent.

There is a simple reason one has no qualms calling Christian Mike Pence a dirty, filthy lying sinner who is no more a real Christian than the Moon is a big piece of cheese. The reason comes in the form of a letter dated November 18, 2016 informing Pence about Flynn’s paid work for Turkey and his contact with Russia. The letter, on official Congressional House stationary, lays out in detail, with 11 cited references, everything Pence said he just learned from media reports in March of this year. The letter was addressed to Mike Pence and cc’d to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

The letter, from the House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings, not only informs Pence of Flynn’s paid work for Turkey, it describes Flynn’s paid speech denigrating America to Trump’s Russian collaborators at an event he attended with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Still, Pence not only lies that he was unaware of any Flynn issues, he supported his appointment as Trump’s national security advisor with full knowledge he was a paid foreign agent and was being investigated. It is also noteworthy that Trump and his legal team certainly knew about Flynn’s work and collaboration with Turkey and Russia because Flynn alerted them in January. But they appointed him national security advisor regardless.

Maybe it is a requirement to be a liar in Trump’s administration because two of Pence’s closest aides lied and told POLITICO that Pence had never been made aware of Flynn’s Turkey work; one even said that in his role as chair of the transition meant he “would not necessarily be privy to all conversations.” However, that official letter dated November 18, 2016 from the House Oversight Committee’s ranking member was not “a conversation” any more than Flynn alerting the White House transition team Pence chaired, and Trump, that he was under investigation for being a paid foreign agent. It was something that happened weeks before Trump’s sparsely attended inauguration and prior to Trump appointing Flynn as his national security advisor.

There are rumors floating around that there are increasing calls for an in-depth investigation into Mike Pence for his involvement in the Russian scandal, and they certainly must concern his well-documented knowledge that Flynn was being paid by foreign governments. The real travesty is there is no apparent section in the  U.S. Code criminalizing filthy lies, but there is plenty about treason as well as collusion. According to the existence of an easily available letter from the House Oversight Committee alerting Pence to Flynn’s activities on behalf of foreign governments, Pence not only knew about Flynn’s activities several months before he claims he did, he kept that damning information to himself and supported a foreign agent as national security advisor.

Mike Pence is no Christian. For dog’s sake even a marginal believer would stop short of repeating an easily debunked lie if for no other reason that to avoid jeopardizing their chance at going to proverbial heaven. Mike Pence can claim his evangelical bona fides forever, but he is nothing but a filthy dirty liar on par with his boss Donald Trump. One can only hope that when Trump’s little castle starts crumbling, it will crush Mike Pence for lying to the people, for colluding with a treasonous cover-up and tacit cooperation with a hostile foreign government; and for his part in appointing a paid foreign agent as America’s national security advisor.