The Trump lawsuit claims that a March 27, 2019, op-ed titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo” intentionally lied about Trump to hurt his 2020 campaign. According to a draft legal complaint, Trump’s 2020 campaign is suing over author Max Frankel’s claim that “the Trump campaign and [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy … had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.” There’s one huge problem with Trump’s lawsuit: What Frankel wrote in his op-ed is true.
Russia’s main objective in 2020 is the same it was in 2016. That objective isn’t simply to sow discord; it is, as the US Intelligence concluded in 2017, to elect Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump is already colluding with Russia again to attack American democracy and help him win the 2020 election. According to The Washington Post and The New York Times, Trump berated and then fired his acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire because career officials briefed Congress about the fact that Russia intended to help him in 2020, just like it did in 2016. In other words, Trump is aiding and abetting the Russian government by undermining the U.S. government’s response, and is using his power as president to do so.
With impeachment in the rearview mirror, President Donald Trump is accelerating his efforts to weaponize the U.S. government for his personal benefit. Trump already has his Roy Cohn at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Attorney General William Barr, who has abused his office to protect the president. Now, Trump is turning to the intelligence community to further consolidate his power and leverage the government for personal gain by making his ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence (DNI).
President Donald Trump is desperate to make himself the victim. After being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and earning bipartisan support for conviction in the Senate, President Donald Trump has retreated to his familiar false claims about the Russia investigation: that it was biased, that it was a waste of time and money, and that it exonerated him. He is, as The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker wrote, trying to “rewrite history” to portray himself—and Russia—as targets of an illegal “witch hunt” rather than as complicit in one of the worst attacks on American democracy in history.
A year ago today, William Barr became attorney general. At his confirmation hearing, he promised to be an independent actor, immune from political interference. President Donald Trump had made it known that he wanted an Attorney General who would protect him, but Barr’s assurances helped pave the way for his Senate confirmation. Trump had just gotten his Roy Cohn. Barr has now spent a full year as Trump’s man on the inside. Far from the defender of institutional norms some claimed he’d be, Barr has forged a new frontier in Trump’s brazen weaponization of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Attorney General William Barr’s shocking intervention to help Roger Stone is a blatant abuse of power. It confirms that Barr sees his job as protecting Trump’s political interests rather than enforcing the law. By overturning the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations, Barr is abandoning longstanding norms to insert himself into a range of cases that implicate Trump and his cronies. His behavior also raises important questions about whether—or how—the attorney general has intervened to protect Trump on a host of other politically sensitive matters.
Senate Republicans let a criminal president loose. Despite bipartisan condemnation of the president’s actions and bipartisan votes to convict and remove him, the Republican caucus, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), let him off, effectively neutering Congress’ oversight authority and declaring the president above the law. President Donald Trump has already shown that he heard their message loud and clear, embarking on a potentially illegal campaign of retaliation against those who dared try to hold him accountable. At the same time, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his Senate allies, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr continue to push the same scheme to undermine democracy that got Trump impeached in the first place.