For months, a scandal of immense proportion has been bubbling below the surface, involving Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump trying to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations involving American citizens. In the era when there are new scandals on a weekly basis, this fairly intricate and convoluted plan had largely stayed below the surface of most political conversations in Washington. However, with the recent revelation that this plot may be at the center of the whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration is withholding from Congress, the scandal has boiled over.
President Donald Trump turned U.S. foreign policy into his own personal extortion racket. New reporting and comments from Rudy Giuliani make it increasingly clear that Trump is pressuring the new president of Ukraine to manufacture a political scandal to help him in the 2020 election. Trump did that not by threatening to withhold vital military aid to an ally at war with Russia but by actually doing so. The president was withholding taxpayer funds for pure extortion, done solely to advance Trump’s political prospects.
The case for impeachment became even clearer yesterday. In his testimony, Corey Lewandowski was combative and evasive and showed blatant contempt for the Congress and the American people. His testimony confirmed that Trump obstructed justice, that he lied to help cover it up, and that the administration’s obstruction has never stopped.
Now that they’ve made their impeachment investigation official, the House Judiciary Committee is calling its first witness: Corey Lewandowski. The main line of questioning will likely be about the extent of his role in President Donald Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice. But there should also be questions about the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russian government to win the 2016 election—much of which happened while Lewandowski was serving as Trump’s campaign chairman.
Kremlin-linked operatives made consistent and sustained efforts to bring Trump campaign officials and/or Trump to Russia or to meetings with Kremlin officials. The Mueller report lists several instances of people suggesting such a trip during the campaign or doing so themselves.
As they return from the August recess, Congress is rightly moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia and his efforts to obstruct the investigation. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation resulted in the most damning document ever released about a sitting president. His report, which specifically “does not exonerate” Trump, is nothing short of an impeachment referral. With Department of Justice precedent barring Mueller from indicting a sitting president, it falls to Congress to hold Trump accountable. Doing so will solve the urgent national security crisis created by a president who is compromised by Russia and continues to try to advance Putin’s agenda from the White House.
America is also not the only target for Russian influence operations; democracies in Europe and around the world are combating Russian election interference. Some of these countries have dealt with this interference better than others, and there are important lessons to be derived from these experiences. With these factors in mind, this report outlines Russian election influence operations and evaluates the responses from stakeholders. It determines the lessons the United States can learn from these democracies, including what works and what does not when confronting Russian interference.