By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Across the country, a rising number of people, both Republicans and Democrats are starting to question the President’s relationship with Russia, in particular, his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Let’s be clear, nobody should have mixed feelings about Putin or the actions of Russia. In the past decade Putin’s Russia has faced international scrutiny for supporting a murderous dictator in Syria, shooting down commercial airlines, using chemical weapons on citizens of other countries, and ongoing attempts at interfering with the U.S. election. Despite all that, the 45th couldn’t bring himself to call out Putin face to face. We need a President that stands up to dictators, not one who befriends them or does their dirty work for them. It’s inconceivable that an American President blamed strained relations with Russia on “many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity” rather than the atrocities committed by Putin. If that’s not grounds for treason, I don’t know what is.
There are processes throughout every layer of our government, designed with the goal of preventing situations like this from unfolding. However, the current President has gone above and beyond to remove or ignore many of those checks and balances. At the summit, for example, he met with Putin privately and, not for the first time, Trump kept note-takers out of the meeting. Reports say he was nervous about leaks coming from the meeting, but if there’s nothing to hide, what’s there to worry about?
We’ve got elections coming up, primaries in August and midterms in November, and I must admit I am worried. We have an American President who thinks denying a problem somehow stops it from existing. Yet FBI Director Christopher Wray was crystal clear when he said, “Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.” However, Trump has spent more time attempting to prevent investigations into Russian interference than he has addressing a way to stop the interference itself. States have taken it upon themselves to protect their local elections. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s own Governor has benched himself from making any decisions that don’t fall “under his jurisdiction”. State and federal elected officials must take the threat to our democracy more seriously. We have now learned that two weeks prior to his inauguration, Trump received detailed evidence, including texts and emails, that showed that Putin personally called for interference in our 2016 elections. Trump has known the reality of the situation for 18 months. Despite that, when given the chance to defend our country, the chance to act as Commander in Chief, Trump let us all down. Therefore, each of us has a responsibility to stay informed, especially with issues on an international scale. Trump was informed two weeks prior to his inauguration and the information he was given is shocking. Detailed evidence, including texts and emails, showed that Putin personally called for interference in our 2016 elections. Trump has known the reality of the situation for 18 months! Despite that, when given the chance to defend our country, the chance to act as Commander in Chief, Trump let us all down. Elected officials who ignore their constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances, and put this country first, are letting us down. While we are trying to figure out why, one thing is clear, I’m sure the founding fathers never saw this day coming.