"SE PROMENER D'UN PAS AGILE AU TEMPLE DE LA VÉRITÉ LA ROUTE EN ÉTAIT DIFFICILE" VOLTAIRE
avril 1, 2023
• July 16, 2018
President Donald Trump with President Vladimir Putin during a joint news conference in Helsinki on Monday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
From the beginning of his administration, President Trump has responded to every new bit of evidence from the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A. that Russia intervened in our last election on his behalf by either attacking Barack Obama or the Democrats for being too lax — never President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his unprecedented cyberhit on our democratic process. Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.
Everything that happened in Helsinki today only reinforces that conclusion. My fellow Americans, we are in trouble and we have some big decisions to make today. This was a historic moment in the entire history of the United States.
There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Trump vacated that oath today, and Republicans can no longer run and hide from that fact. Every single Republican lawmaker will be — and should be — asked on the election trail: Are you with Trump and Putin or are you with the C.I.A., F.B.I. and N.S.A.?
It started with the shocking tweet that Trump issued before he even sat down with Putin this morning: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” The official Twitter account of the Russian foreign ministry — recognizing a useful idiot when it saw one — immediately “liked” Trump’s tweet and later added: “We agree.”
I’ll bet they do.
It only got worse when, in his joint news conference with Putin, Trump was asked explicitly if he believed the conclusion of his intelligence agencies that Russia hacked our elections. The president of the United States basically threw his entire intelligence establishment under a bus, while throwing out a cloud of dust about Hillary Clinton’s server to disguise what he was doing.
Trump actually said on the question of who hacked our election, “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia. And in a bit of shocking moral equivalence, Trump added of the United States and Russia: “We are all to blame … both made some mistakes.” Trump said that it was actually the American probe into the Russian hacking that has “kept us apart.”
To watch an American president dis his own intelligence agencies, blame both sides for the Russian hacking of our election — and deliberately try to confuse the fact that there is still no solid proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia with the fact that Russia had its own interestin trying to defeat the anti-Putin Hillary Clinton — actually made me sick to my stomach. I completely endorse the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan’s tweet after the news conference:
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
Trump is simply insanely obsessed with what happened in the last election. But now he is president, and the fact that he may not have colluded with the Russians doesn’t mean he does not, as president, have a responsibility to ensure that the Russians be punished for interfering in our last election on their own and be effectively deterred from doing so in the future. That is in his job description.
Listening to Trump, it was as if Franklin Roosevelt had announced after Pearl Harbor: “Hey, both sides are to blame. Our battleships in Hawaii were a little provocative to Japan — and, by the way, I had nothing to do with the causes for their attack. So cool it.”
There is only one message Trump should have sent Putin in this meeting today: “You have attacked our democracy, as well as two core pillars of the global economic and security order that have kept the peace and promoted prosperity since World War II — the European Union and NATO. We are not interested in any of your poker-faced denials. Just know that if you keep doing it, we will consider it an act of war and we will not only sanction you like never before, but you’ll taste every cyberweapon we have in our arsenal — and some of your most intimate personal secrets will appear on the front pages of every newspaper in the world. Is there any part of that sentence you do not understand?
“So we will be watching you between now and our midterm elections,” Trump should have added. “I’m sure you know the date. If you behave well, we’ll talk again in December 2018 about anything you want — Ukraine, Syria, Crimea or arms control. Until then our C.I.A. and N.S.A. are on to you and your cyberspooks. And Vlad, as you may have noticed from my Justice Department’s recent indictment of 12 of your agents, you are not as good as you think.”
That is what a real American president, sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, would have said to Putin today. He would have understood that this meeting had only one agenda item — and it was not developing an “extraordinary” relationship.
It was d-e-t-e-r-r-e-n-c-e — deterrence of a Russia that has been increasingly reckless and destabilizing.
In the past few years what has Putin done to deserve an American president sucking up to him for an “extraordinary” relationship? Putin has seized Crimea, covertly invaded Ukraine, provided the missiles that shot down a civilian Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, bombed tens of thousands of refugees out of Syria into Europe, destabilizing Europe, been involved in the death of a British woman who accidentally handled a Russian nerve agent deployed to kill ex-Russian agents in England and deployed misinformation to help tip the vote in Britain toward exiting and fracturing the European Union.
Most of all, Putin unleashed a cyberattack on America’s electoral process, aimed at both electing Trump — with or without Trump’s collusion — and sowing division among American citizens.
Our intelligence agencies have no doubt about this: Last week, America’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, described Putin’s cybercampaign as one designed “to exploit America’s openness in order to undermine our long-term competitive advantage.” Coats added that America’s digital infrastructure “is literally under attack,” adding that there was “no question” that Russia was the “most aggressive foreign actor.”
I am not given to conspiracy theories, but I cannot help wondering if the first thing Trump said to Putin in their private one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, before their aides were allowed to enter, was actually: “Vladimir, we’re still good, right? You and me, we’re still good?”
And that Putin answered: “Donald, you have nothing to worry about. Just keep being yourself. We’re still good.”
David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner
Trump’s Road to American Martial Law
By Roger Cohen from the New York Times
For Putin, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. Republicans may grumble over this, but they are Trump’s indecent enablers.
By Roger Cohen
• July 18, 2018
This time, Trump’s crossed the line! He’s done! He’s finished! He’s toast!
How many times do I remember this refrain, all the way back to the Mexican “rapists” remark more than three years ago that established Trump to the right of all his Republican rivals on immigration and so launched his campaign?
Yet he’s not finished.
Since then we’ve had Trump’s talk of “some form of punishment” for women having an abortion; and “grab ’em by the pussy” as his approach to women; and African nations as “shithole countries”; and his moral equivocation over the Charlottesville neo-Nazis who were not so bad really; and his Administration’s sadistic treatment of immigrant children; and the European Union as “foe”; and thousands of false or misleading statements since taking office; and now the disgusting spectacle of the American president kowtowing in Helsinki to Vladimir Putin, whose denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election he credits over the findings of United States intelligence agencies!
Yet he’s not done.
Trump claims he misspoke in Helsinki when, alluding to his director of National Intelligence, he said: “My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Now, Trump wants us to believe he wished to deploy a double negative, no less. A double negative! What he meant to say was: “I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia.”
This is nonsense. Simple declarative sentences are also available, as in: “I believe that, in an act of aggression, Russian interfered in the 2016 election.” They have particular impact when the Russian president is standing next to you.
No, Trump was in full Putin-pandering mode. He said that Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial.” Besides, Russia is a place where Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails “wouldn’t be gone so easily.”
Yet Trump’s not finished.
Even if he does daily damage to America’s standing in the world, conducts “diplomacy” with no preparation and no coordination with allies, believes he can wing it on the world stage with his rabble-rousing rally shtick, and, as William Burns, the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, put it to me, “leaves Putin looking bemused at this gift that keeps on giving.”
Yet the lines Trump crosses — the endless indications that, as James Fallows put it in The Atlantic, he is either Russia’s “conscious tool” or “useful idiot” — never bring about his downfall.
That is, above all, due to the corruption and debasement of the Republican Party, which has turned into the Trump party, roared on by the right-wing talk machine honed over many years now through Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest. The machine that says that Democrats are evil and want to blow up the American way of life — guns, God and all. The machine that said Barack Obama was a Kenyan socialist.
“Republicans in Congress have responded in a spineless and morally vacant way to this president who is a horrible embarrassment,” Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, told me. “They know that, other than on immigration and trade, Trump has no policy views. Their attitude is, ‘anything we can pass, he’ll sign, we can manipulate him, get the judges we want.’ But they’re trapped in a culture that’s almost cultlike and know that if they challenge Trump, the base will turn on them.”
Most Republicans stuck with Nixon well after indications of wrongdoing emerged. But as the Watergate evidence piled up, they did begin to desert him. Still, with the exception of Senator John McCain, Ornstein does not see the likes today of Hugh Scott, John Rhodes, Howard Baker, Barry Goldwater, William Cohen and other leading Republicans who broke with Nixon.
And so Trump is not done, not yet, not by any means.
“The framers were very much aware that we could end up with an immoral demagogue,” Ornstein said. “They built in safeguards, the most significant being an independent Congress, with power of the purse, oversight, confirmation, impeachment. But at every level, this Congress has failed miserably. Republicans have done nothing but try and protect Trump, despite outrageous ineptitude, cabinet offices being manipulated to make money, children treated in criminal fashion — no oversight hearings, nothing! This is the biggest abdication I have ever seen.”
Yes, some Republican lawmakers did raise their voices to denounce Trump’s interactions with Putin, or at least express confidence in American intelligence agencies. But these were mere words — too little, too late. They are complicit in Trump’s Russian complicity, his base, possibly criminal, flirtation.
The president is not done.
Soon, there may be indictments from Robert Mueller, the special counsel, of high officials or members of Trump’s family. What then? Ornstein’s nightmare scenario: Trump fires Mueller, pardons himself and everyone else, sends his followers into the street, and, after the inevitable bloodshed, declares martial law.
Not yet. Not yet.
Roger Cohen has been a columnist for The Times since 2009. His columns appear Wednesday and Saturday. He joined The Times in 1990, and has served as a foreign correspondent and foreign editor. @NYTimesCohen
Please, Dan Coats. Don’t resign.
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats in February in Washington. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
by Fred Hiatt
Editorial Page Editor July 17
No, Dan, don’t quit. Please.
On Tuesday, my colleague Ruth Marcus wrote a column urging everyone who works for President Trump to resign immediately. “Save your souls,” she wrote. “Save your honor, such as it is. Save your reputation, such as it remains.”
She came to her conclusion more than a year after another colleague, Robert Kagan, wrote that Trump staffers “may want to start asking themselves how all this is working out. On balance, are they preventing bad decisions more than they are enabling them?”
While Kagan didn’t offer a firm answer in that May 2017 column, it was clear where he thought the answer was heading: “The odds are much better that, whether they stay or go, things are going to get worse,” he wrote. “.?.?. The ‘adults’ have been more window dressing than guardrails.”
Well, Kagan was right. Things have gotten worse.
But let me offer a pessimist’s view: Things could get worse still. A lot worse. And that argues for the “adults” staying as long as they can manage to do so.
If Putin wanted a U.S. president to do his bidding, it would look exactly like this
President Trump’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was a disastrous capitulation, says Democracy Post editor Christian Caryl. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
As nauseating as it was to see Trump equate the credibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin with that of America’s intelligence chief, Daniel Coats, the summit with Putin could have been more disastrous. As he intimated in the days leading up to the meeting, Trump could have sold out Crimea, Ukraine, NATO, the European Union. As far as we know, he did not do any of those things. If he had not been surrounded by Coats, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA chief Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton; if he were listening only, say, to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Stephen K. Bannon, Sean Hannity — and to his own instincts — he might have done all of those things.
Of course, after the events of the past few days, no one could fault Coats if he did resign.
On Friday, Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana and ambassador to Germany, said that warning lights about cyberattacks are “blinking red,” just as the terrorist threat was flashing before 9/11 in 2001. The leading threat, he said, is Russia — not just to interfere in the 2018 elections but to sabotage key American infrastructure.
“The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, in coordination with international partners, have detected Russian government actors targeting government and businesses in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors,” Coats said.
Trump’s response? “I don’t know if I agree with that,” he told CBS News on Saturday.
Then on Monday, in a joint appearance with Putin, Trump said that Coats tells him one thing, Putin tells him another, and “I have confidence in both parties.”
On one hand, America’s intelligence chief, warning the president of dangers to his nation’s dams, nuclear power plants and airports. On the other, the alleged source of those dangers. And Trump has “confidence in both.”
No doubt this is disheartening for Coats, if not humiliating.
But Coats should know: It is hugely valuable to the nation to hear a truthful assessment from someone in his position, when truth at the top is in such short supply.
It is especially valuable when so much of the Republican Party has lost its way, its values and its spine. When much of Congress has been, at least until now, afraid to challenge Trump’s kowtowing to Putin, it matters all the more that Coats has been willing to state simple truths.
Which he did again, in plain words, after Trump’s news conference: “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy,” Coats said, “and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
It has become a truism that no reputation is enhanced by service in this administration; just ask Rex Tillerson. And every official has to decide for himself or herself what is the breaking point — bowing to dictators, endorsing racist violence in Charlottesville, tearing children from their parents at the border.
But if Coats still thinks he can do some good for the country by offering Trump “unvarnished and objective intelligence,” I’m not ready to say he’s wrong.
I cannot be sure he’s right, of course. But I am sure things could be worse.
Fred Hiatt Wahington Post
Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Post. He writes editorials for the newspaper and a biweekly column that appears on Mondays. Previously he was a local reporter in Virginia, a national reporter covering national security and a foreign correspondent based in Tokyo and Moscow.
Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’
by David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner New York Times
A protest in Tel Aviv this month against the new law, which has been advanced as flagship legislation of the most right-wing and religious governing coalition in Israel’s 70-year history.CreditAbir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock
By David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner
JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has long demanded that the Palestinians acknowledge his country’s existence as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” On Thursday, his governing coalition stopped waiting around and pushed through a law that made it a fact.
In an incendiary move hailed as historic by Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition but denounced by centrists and leftists as racist and anti-democratic, Israel’s Parliament enacted a law that enshrines the right of national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people” — not all citizens.
The legislation, a “basic law” — giving it the weight of a constitutional amendment — omits any mention of democracy or the principle of equality, in what critics called a betrayal of Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, which ensured “complete equality of social and political rights” for “all its inhabitants” no matter their religion, race or sex.
The new law promotes the development of Jewish communities, possibly aiding those who would seek to advance discriminatory land-allocation policies. And it downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with a “special status.”
Since Israel was established, it has grappled with the inherent tensions between its dual aspirations of being both a Jewish and democratic state. The new law, portrayed by proponents as restoring that balance in the aftermath of judicial rulings that favored democratic values, nonetheless struck critics as an effort to tip the scales sharply toward Jewishness.
Its passage demonstrated the ascendancy of ultranationalists in Israel’s government, who have been emboldened by the gains of similarly nationalist and populist movements in Europe and elsewhere, as Mr. Netanyahu has increasingly embraced illiberal democracies like that of Hungary — whose far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, arrived in Jerusalem for a friendly visit only hours before the vote.
With the political opposition too weak to mount a credible threat, and with the Trump administration providing a never-before-seen degree of American support, Mr. Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing and religious coalition in Israel’s 70-year history, has been pressing its advantages on multiple fronts.
It has sought to exercise more control over the news media, erode the authority of the Supreme Court, curb the activities of left-wing advocacy groups, press ahead with moves that amount to de facto annexation of parts of the West Bank, and undermine the police by trying to thwart or minimize the effect of multiple corruption investigations against the prime minister.
The police have already recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be charged with bribery in two inquiries.
But none of these expressions of raw political power has carried more symbolic weight than the new basic law.
“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the annals of the state of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu said after the bill was enacted in the early morning after hours of impassioned debate, just before the Knesset, or Parliament, went into summer recess.
“We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence,” he said. “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens.”
Opponents say the law will inevitably harm the fragile balance between the country’s Jewish majority and Arab minority, which makes up about 21 percent of a population of nearly nine million.
If the new law was meant to give expression to Israel’s national identity, it exposed and further divided an already deeply fractured society. It passed in the 120-seat Parliament by a vote of 62 to 55 with two abstentions. One member was absent.
Moments after the vote, Arab lawmakers ripped up copies of the bill while crying out, “Apartheid!” Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, which holds 13 seats and is the third-largest bloc in Parliament, waved a black flag in protest.
“The end of democracy,” declared Ahmad Tibi, a veteran Arab legislator, charging the government with demagogy. “The official beginning of fascism and apartheid. A black day (another black day),” he wrote on Twitter.
Yael German, a lawmaker from the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, called the law “a poison pill for democracy.”
The law is now one of more than a dozen basic laws that together serve as the country’s Constitution and can be amended only by a majority in the Knesset. Two others, on human dignity and on liberty and freedom of occupation, both enacted in the 1990s, determine the values of the state as both Jewish and democratic.
The basic laws legally supersede the Declaration of Independence and, unlike regular laws, have never been overturned by Israel’s Supreme Court.
Dan Yakir, chief legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that while largely only declaratory, the new law “will give rise to arguments that Jews should enjoy privileges and subsidies and rights, because of the special status that this law purports to give to the Jewish people in Israel.”
“In that regard,” he added, “this is a racist law.”
He noted that a right to equality in Israel had been derived, by interpretation of the Israeli Supreme Court, from the Basic Law on Human Dignity, but that the new law was explicit in elevating the status of Jews.
“There is a plausible argument that the new basic law can overrule the right of equality that is only inferred, and is not specified anywhere in our constitution,” he said.
Adalah, a legal center that campaigns for Arab rights in Israel, warned that the law “entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.”
Some supporters lamented that many of the law’s more polarizing clauses had been diluted to assure passage. Critics decried it as a populist measure that largely sprang from the perennial competition for votes between Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative party, Likud, and political rivals to its right.
“I don’t agree with those saying this is an apartheid law,” said Amir Fuchs, an expert in legislative processes and liberal thought at The Israel Democracy Institute, an independent research group in Jerusalem. “It does not form two separate legal norms applying to Jews or non-Jews,” he said.
But he added, “Even if it is only declarative and won’t change anything in the near future, I am 100 percent sure it will worsen the feeling of non-Jews and especially the Arab minority in Israel.”
The law, which also was subtly changed where it addresses the Jewish diaspora to mollify ultra-Orthodox leaders, who feared it could promote Jewish pluralism in Israel, also drew protests from overseas.
“We will use all of the legal means available to us to challenge this new law and to promote Reform and Progressive Judaism in Israel,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the New York-based Union for Reform Judaism.
Many North American Jews have grown increasingly alienated from Israel over the Netanyahu government’s hawkishness and coercion by the strictly Orthodox state religious authorities. They remain angry nearly a year after Mr. Netanyahu reneged on an agreement to improve pluralistic prayer arrangements at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, once a hallowed symbol of Jewish unity, and promoted a bill enshrining the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over conversions to Judaism in Israel.
The new law stipulates that Hebrew is “the state’s language” and demotes Arabic to “special status,” though it is a largely symbolic sleight since a subsequent clause says, “This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”
Another highly divisive clause in the draft version, which experts said would have opened the door to legalized segregation, was replaced by one declaring “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value” and promising “to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”
Some critics argued the replacement clause was even worse, because while the previous version allowed for separate but equal communities, the new one could be interpreted to allow for discrimination in the allocation of resources.
Proponents of the new law cite continuing demographic threats: Some in Israel’s Arab minority are demanding collective rights and already form a majority in the northern Galilee district. Others view it as a largely pointless expression of nationalism that lays bare basic insecurities in a hostile region and will serve only to fan tensions at home and beyond.
Avi Shilon, an Israeli historian who teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and New York University’s campus in Tel Aviv, noted that Mr. Netanyahu and Likud were the ideological heirs of the right-wing Zionist Revisionist movement of Zeev Jabotinsky, which believed that words could shape reality.
That view is in contrast with those held by the Labor Zionist founders of the state, led by David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, who placed more faith in deeds and actions.
“The great spirit of Ben-Gurion and the founding fathers was that they knew how to adjust to the times,” Mr. Shilon said. “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.”
A former Labor Party legislator, Shakeeb Shnaan, a member of Israel’s small, Arabic-speaking Druze community, whose men are drafted for compulsory service in the military, pleaded emotionally for the bill’s defeat. His son was one of two Druze police officers killed in a shooting attack a year ago while guarding an entrance to Jerusalem’s holiest site for Jews and Muslims. The perpetrators were Arab citizens of Israel.
“The state of Israel is my country and my home, and I have given it what is most dear to me, and I continue, and I will continue, to serve it with love,” he said, before adding: “The nationality law is a mark of Cain on the forehead of everyone who votes for it.”
David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner
et la note d’humour de Patrick Chapatte du New York Times et de Tome Noles du Washington Post
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