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Was Trump really this honest?

What did Trump get right and what did he get wrong?

Eric Zuesse

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After all of the trumpeting against Donald Trump by the ‘news’ media and by all Democratic politicians and many Republican politicians, about his utter untrustworthiness; and after the loads of exposés that have been published, over decades, documenting Trump’s psychopathic behaviors and business scams; what do we now have, adding to this unsavory if not criminal record by Mr. Trump, in the first criminal indictment, published on October 27th, by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who is tasked to nail Trump to some prison cell for crimes committed during his Presidential campaign, after Trump’s having previously racked up already such a lifetime record of alleged (and even some documented) outrages perpetrated by him?

The indictments, of Paul Manafort II and of Richard W. Gates III, make serious charges against these two men, for their allegedly laundering $75 million of income to mainly Manafort during the period from 2006 to 2015. The charges are basically tax-evasion and “a series of false and misleading statements” by them to the U.S. Department of Justice during and after the men’s subsequent work for Trump’s Presidential campaign.

This income had been derived during 2006 to 2015 from what was then the leading political Party in Ukraine, and Paragraph 10 of the Indictment states that this Party, “The Party of Regions was a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.” Is that legally relevant? Is it criminal in America for a politician in a nation that borders Russia to be “pro-Russia”? (Should it be criminal in Russia for a politician in a nation that borders America to be pro-American?)

It wasn’t criminal in that neighboring country, Ukraine, to be pro-Russian, but is it criminal in America? Did a legal basis exist, during 2005 through 2014, and up till the U.S. coup that overthrew this Partyin 2014, for the U.S. to outlaw this Ukrainian Party, retrospectively, after the U.S. Government had replaced their rule by the rule of one far-right Party, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, and two racist-fascist or ideologically nazi Parties — the Right Sector, and the former Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine — all three of which Parties rabidly hate Russians?

The Party of Regions had been elected to power in Ukraine’s final democratic election (2010) in which the residents in all parts of Ukraine were permitted to vote for or against candidates for Ukrainian national office. That’s what its having been called “The Party of Regions” meant: acceptance, as being part of Ukraine, of the residents in all regions of Ukraine, not discriminating against any, and not blocking any from being able to vote for President and for other national elective offices. What was illegal, anywhere (even in the United States), about that? If nothing, then why does Mueller even mention it, except in order to prejudice jurors?

The Indictment states that this Party “retained MANAFORT, through DMP and then DMI, to advance its interests in Ukraine, including the election of its slate of candidates. In 2010, its candidate for President, Yanukovych, was elected President of Ukraine.” Is that criminal, or is it instead merely prejudicial against the defendants (Manafort and Gates)? Is this Indictment designed to appeal to Americans’ prejudices, or to America’s laws?

Paragraph 11 states: “The European Centre for a Modem Ukraine (the Centre) was created in or about 2012 in Belgium as a mouthpiece for Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. The Centre was used by MANAFORT, GATES, and others in order to lobby and conduct a public relations campaign in the United States and Europe on behalf of the existing Ukraine regime. The Centre effectively ceased to operate upon the downfall of Yanukovych in 2014.”

The last Ukrainian election in which the people in the parts of the country where the main language that was spoken was Russian were allowed to live in peace and to vote in Ukrainian national elections, had produced, according to Mueller, what was, until the coup “the existing regime” — not “the existing Government.” Is the presumption here that the coup-government is “the Ukrainian Government,” but that the democratically elected Government which had preceded the coup-government was instead “the existing Ukraine regime”? It contradicts the history — it contradicts the solidly documented record of what had happened there.

Then follow, until Paragraph 25, specific alleged documents that will be produced at trial in order to prove the money-laundering and the lying aimed to hide it. Paragraph 25 states that, “In November 2016 and February 2017, MANAFORT, GATES, and DMI caused false and misleading letters to be submitted to the Department of Justice, which mirrored the false cover story set out above.”

Starting with Paragraph 37 are the “Statutory Allegations” and the numbered criminal “Counts.” All pertain to the alleged money-laundering and the alleged lies in order to cover it up. Then Paragraph 52 states that upon conviction, the men “shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, involved in such offense, and any property traceable to such property,” etc.

Among the cited U.S. criminal laws, and their punishments, which were referenced, were:

18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (“shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both”)

31 U.S.C. § 5322(b) (“shall be fined not more than $500,000, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both”)

22 U.S.C. § 618(a)(2) (“a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both”)

So, the expectation is that, if neither Manafort nor Gates will testify that Trump colluded with Russia in order to win the U.S. Presidency, then both Manafort and Gates will face perhaps 35 years in prison, or else be pardoned by Trump — which latter pardoning might assist his becoming replaced by either a different Republican in primaries, or else by the Democratic nominee, in 2020 — if Trump’s Presidency even lasts that long.

An editorial at the Strategic Culture Foundation on November 1st was headlined “First Indictment in Russiagate: Special Counsel Not Up to the Task”, and noted that, “Surprising or not, the indictment does not mention neither Trump nor Russia! The story is about Ukraine. Paul Manafort had ties with Ukraine’s Party of Regions, which was considered as a ‘pro-Moscow’ political force. That’s the only ‘Russia connection.’ Everything related to Manafort pertains to the period before he started to work for Donald Trump. And Rick Gates has never had any relation to the incumbent president or his team.”

It goes on to note that: “Manafort’s indictment (Item 22, page 15) states very seriously that Yulia Tymoshenko had served as Ukraine’s President prior to Yanukovych! It takes a few seconds to have a look at the list of Ukraine’s presidents to find out that Yulia Timoshenko has never been the holder of the highest office.” That was actually referencing Paragraph 22 on page 16, but the point being made is accurate: The former FBI chief and now the prestigious Special Counsel chosen in order to replace Trump by Pence, is so incompetent that he permits a historical falsehood that’s documentable even merely by reference to a Wikipedia article, to appear in Mueller’s piece of propaganda for the appointment of the rabid Russia-hater and current Vice President, Mike Pence, to complete Trump’s term-of-office.

Is this the ‘Justice’ system in a democracy, or is it now just a two-bit dictatorship that’s the fading ghost of anything that the United States of America formerly was?

It’s certainly a scandal, at the very top, and, obviously, only fools would believe that a government such as this is a democracy, at all.

So: Was Trump really this honest? Was he so honest, so that the only way he can even be framed enough for him to be forced out of office, is to unleash against him an ‘expert lawyer’ such as Mueller, who obviously isn’t even a competent piranha? In the U.S., as Alan Dershowitz has said, “A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor wants them to”. But almost all Americans believe that an indictment is itself evidence of a person’s ‘guilt’. That’s the remarkable trust the people in a dictatorship have when the dictatorship is so total that the public trust even an indictment to be the result of some kind of authentic democratic process proving something, instead of the result of an extremely effective system of public mind-control, which it is.

Mueller wasn’t hired because he’s some kind of legal whiz, but because he looks and sounds like a person who isn’t a lawyer but “who plays one on TV” — he’s the caricature of the part. And, in a dictatorship, that’s the type of person who fills the bill, especially for an assignment like this one.

The minority-leader in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Charles Schumer, said when Mueller was appointed, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” If they ‘lead’ to Trump, and to Russia, it will apparently be by way of Manafort, Gates, and the last democratically elected government that Ukraine had, which the U.S. Government overthrew by means of a bloody coup, which produced an ongoing ethnic-cleansing campaign (‘civil war’) to get rid of the voters who had enabled the ousted democratically elected President of Ukraine to have been elected.

In addition to the October 27th indictments of Manafort and Gates, there was on October 5th a signed guilty plea by an unpaid but self-inflated volunteer for the Trump campaign, who had solicited from, allegedly, the Russian Government, via a third party, “dirt” that the third party alleged to have somehow acquired against candidate Hillary Clinton, and the “Statement of the Offense” to which he signed included no “dirt” against Donald Trump, and no cooperation with the defendant on the part of Trump’s campaign, other than that the campaign, on one occasion in candidate Trump’s presence, heard this “advisor to the campaign” state in general terms what the third-party informer was seeking to deliver to the campaign.

The defendant, George Papadopoulos, confessed there to having lied to the FBI. What, if anything, the ‘Justice’ Department had agreed to (the other side of this plea-deal) in order to extract these admissions from Papadopoulos, is not known. The confession didn’t allege that the Trump campaign authorized, nor ever accepted, the alleged offer, which Papadopoulos had allegedly midwifed, but which, apparently, aborted, never delivered.

On October 30th, Vanity Fair magazine headlined “MUELLER’S RUSSIAN COLLUSION CASE COMES INTO FOCUS”, and Abigail Tracy reported and linked to the “Statement of the Offense.” Then, on November 1st, that magazine’s Gabriel Sherman bannered “‘YOU CAN’T GO ANY LOWER’: INSIDE THE WEST WING, TRUMP IS APOPLECTIC AS ALLIES FEAR IMPEACHMENT”, and reported that Sherman’s sources inside the White House were panicking (which hardly makes sense) and that “Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.” Sherman reported that, “For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.” No explanation was provided for that allegedly “realistic outcome” to result from either the Manafort-Gates indictments or the Papadopoulos plea-deal.

Mueller has indicted his two ham-sandwiches, regarding their allegedly hiding and lying about their income from the pre-coup leading political Party in Ukraine, and has gotten an unpaid Trump-campaign volunteer to admit only to his own lying to the FBI about what he himself had done. There is still no testimony against Trump, nor against anyone in his Administration. Is Trump really so honest, that this piranha, Mueller, can’t yet bite even close to this President? Not a big bite — not any bite at all? Really? And the Trump White House now considers impeachment “a realistic outcome” — from this? Maybe some reasonable explanation exists, other than: Trump’s team want to keep their ‘lows’ as low as possible until, late in his term, the shoddiness of the campaign against him becomes undeniable, and so sets him up for a stunning re-election, as the least-disgusting of the Presidential options, from amongst which, the American electorate will be allowed to choose, in 2020.

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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