A pro-Russian U.S. president moves from fiction to reality

Way back when, I served as senior counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That experience provided background for my 2011 novel “Drop By Drop.” In it, top U.S. officials conspire with the Russian government to reelect an American president.

Just after the 2016 election, friends teased me and said Russian President Vladimir Putin must have read my book before he launched his plot to win the presidency for Donald Trump.

What plot? Of course, former President Trump called the investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election “the single greatest Witch Hunt in American history.” Nevertheless, a report by the Republican-majority Senate Intelligence Committee found that “the Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multi-faceted effort to influence, or attempt to influence, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.”

It is ironic Trump says the 2020 was stolen from him based on no evidence, while it appears the 2016 election may well have been stolen from Hillary Clinton. In her book “Cyberwar,” University of Pennsylvania professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson concludes it's “highly probable” Russia affected the outcome of the race. Secretary Clinton has moved on. Former President Trump has not.

“Drop By Drop” was meant to be a work of fiction, not a blueprint for Russian action. A pro-Russia American president was meant to be a character in a thriller novel, not the real-life resident of the White House. And there's no doubt that Donald Trump was the most pro-Russian U.S. president of the past century.

As far back as 2007, Trump told CNN's Larry King that Putin was “doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.” Just after launching his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump said, “I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin.” At the GOP convention in the summer of 2016, Trump's staff weakened a plank supporting military aid for Ukraine. During the fall campaign, Trump beseeched the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's emails. Apparently, they were listening. Hours later the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow attacked over 70 Clinton campaign accounts.

Once in office, Trump backed Putin's “extremely strong and powerful” denial of interference in the 2016 election over concrete evidence supplied by U.S. intelligence agencies. In a 2017 Oval Office meeting, Trump shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister. To the horror of his aides, he often brought up the prospect of dropping out of NATO.

Now seeking to recapture the White House, Trump has refused to condemn Putin for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison. Trump has said he would ignore treaty obligations and encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to any NATO country that didn't pay their dues. (In fact, NATO doesn't require dues.) European Council President Charles Michel described Trump's comments as “reckless,” saying they “serve only Putin's interest.” Surprise, surprise.

Right now, Ukraine is suffering from a munitions shortage in combating Russian aggression. Congressional Republicans refused to fund more military aid for Ukraine unless their demands for dealing with the Mexican border were met. They were met. And then Trump intervened to stop any compromise. He wanted to use immigration as an issue in his campaign to take back the White House. Support for Ukraine also fell by the wayside as Trump knew it would. Nikki Haley, his Republican rival for the presidency, said, “Trump is siding with Putin, who has made no bones about wanting to destroy America.”

Former Republican presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan must be turning in their graves. Eisenhower was the first military commander of NATO. As president, he called the alliance “essential to world peace.” Reagan said his policy toward Russia was simple: “We win, they lose.”

Trump says if he's reelected president, he'll end the war in Ukraine in “24 hours,” noting he “got along great” with Russian president Vladimir Putin. That could only mean he would abandon support for Ukraine and accept Russian aggression. Such a move would mean the death of the robust foreign policy embraced by Republicans in the Cold War and a return to the isolationist policy of the party before World War II. In the 1930s, America stood by as the Nazis marched into Poland and the Japanese army invaded China. We know how well that worked out. If there is one thing World War II and the Cold War should have taught us, it is that appeasement of aggression by major powers only encourages more aggression.

I've thought about writing a sequel to “Drop By Drop” where the hero would be confronted by more threats to the U.S. But given what's happened on the world stage in the 13 years after its publication, I did decide to come up with something else.

© 2024, Creators

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