Trump-Russia Ties Must Be Investigated

Wednesday’s Brunswick Times Record had an opinion piece aimed to cast doubt on Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign andRussian efforts to steer the election towards Trump.  The piece was by Paul Ackerman and titled Is the Current Special Counsel Effort Comparable to Watergate?  I found it objectionable in whole and in part: wrong as to emphasis and deliberately inaccurate in a number of ways.  So I wrote a letter in response.

The letter appeared in today’s BTR and ran under the title “Trump-Russia Ties Must Be Investigated.”  Here’s the text of the letter.

Trump-Russia Ties Must be Investigated

GUEST RESPONSE

BY DOUGLAS C. BENNETT

Paul Ackerman sets up a straw man to attack in asking, “Is the Current Special Counsel Investigation Comparable to Watergate?” (Dec. 27). And in attacking that straw man he fires off a number of misstatements and slurs.

No, the current Special Counsel investigation is not Watergate. It is a quite different, serious investigation. The Watergate investigation showed conclusively that one Republican candidate broke laws and told lies in the 1972 election. The current Special Counsel is investigating whether a different Republican candidate broke laws and told lies in the 2016 election.

Ackerman nowhere acknowledges the beginning of this investigation: the joint finding by several federal intelligence agencies that the Russian government engaged in electoral interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. That finding should disturb us all and make us eager to know all that we can about who else cooperated with or encouraged the Russians. The focus of the Special Counsel investigation is to investigate “ any links and/ or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”

Ackerman characterizes the work of the Special Prosecutor as a “ steady stream of innuendo through leaks from anonymous — and mostly wrong — sources so far.” This is untrue and a smear on the Special Prosecutor. His investigation has been virtually free of leaks, and he has made no public statements of his findings. Robert Mueller has behaved with a high degree of integrity and professionalism — notwithstanding Mr. Ackerman’s slurs and innuendos.

Ackerman denies the investigation has learned of any Russian connection to the Trump campaign. That, too, is a lie. The Special Prosecutor has obtained guilty pleas and indictments of Trump campaign officials. And from responsible journalists we have learned that several Trump campaign officials ( Manafort, Sessions, Trump Jr., Kushner, others) failed to disclose meetings with Russians before the election and in its immediate aftermath. What they were hiding we have yet to learn. The Special Prosecutor is seeking to learn.

There is plenty of reason to continue the investigation. We know the Russians tried to interfere with the 2016 election. We need to know whether anyone in the Trump campaign encouraged or assisted them.

 

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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