National Security & Foreign Policy

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  • Wash. Post’s Dana Milbank: Trump Loves Conspiracies Until They Involve Him

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy he doesn’t like -- one that involves himself.

    Milbank’s column noted reports that security experts say Russian hackers are behind the publication of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails on the night before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The timing and sourcing of the email dump led media to question whether Russian officials were attempting to influence United States elections and whether Trump had any connections to Russian officials that may have played a role in the hack.

    Trump has a well-documented history of invoking and encouraging conspiracy theories, claiming a “fix” was in when the FBI decided not to indict Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, suggesting President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists and not an American citizen, and claiming the suicide of a Clinton aide was “very fishy.” Trump has also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who believes the government coordinated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that a New World Order plans to exterminate 80 percent of the world.

    In the July 26 article, Milbank wrote that despite engaging in theories that “President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination,” Trump is "conspicuously incurious" about suggestions that he is working with Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election. If Clinton were in Trump’s position, Milbank wrote, “it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin.” From the Milbank column:

    Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

    He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

    But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

    The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banks, gets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

    [...]

    If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

    He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case. 

  • Media Widely Condemn Trump's “Mindblowing” Call For The Russian Government To Cyberattack Hillary Clinton

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Media figures are widely condemning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s remarks in a July 27 press conference, in which he said he “hope[s]” that Russian hackers would “find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Media immediately castigated Trump’s “mindblowing” call for the Russian government to steal his opponent's email to help his bid for president.

  • “Pretty Damn Frightening”: Wash. Post’s Volokh Conspiracy Imagines Trump’s Justice Department

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Contributor to the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog Orin Kerr wrote that the Department of Justice under Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would be “pretty damn frightening.”

    During last week’s Republican National Convention, Trump called for more aggressive policing, threatened critics with lawsuits, and suggested that his opponents, such as Hillary Clinton, be jailed. Trump has also praised strongmen like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan for their ability to lead and to take control in times of crisis.

    In a July 22 article, Kerr wrote that Trump’s “long-standing passions” of silencing dissenting voices and threatening lawsuits against critics convinced him that a Trump Department of Justice would be “pretty damn frightening.” Kerr argued Trump’s Justice Department would be “aggressive” against those who oppose and criticize it, citing Trump’s “expressed admiration" for dictators such as Putin, his dismissal of other country’s civil liberties violations, and Trump's response to “the ‘vicious’ and ‘horrible’ way that the Chinese government massacred pro-democracy protesters" in Tiananmen Sqaure. From the article:

    Trump’s Nixonian turn to law and order raises an important question: What would a Trump Justice Department look like?

    It would be pretty damn frightening, I think. Trump has two long-standing passions when it comes to law and law enforcement. His first passion is the suppression of protest and dissent. And his second passion is bringing lots of legal actions against his critics and threatening many more to get his way.

    [...]

     A few months ago, Trump expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin as “a strong leader” and “a powerful leader.” He has offered praise for Saddam Hussein. And just this week, when he was asked how he would respond to civil liberties violations by repressive regimes in other countries such as Turkey, Trump explained that he wouldn’t deal with that because the United States had its own mess to clean up. If you read the interview, Trump wasn’t saying that we had to to stop our own civil liberties violations before criticizing those of other governments. Rather, he was saying that the United States couldn’t criticize other countries because it needed to be “much more aggressive” at stopping the “riots” in the streets in places such as Ferguson and Baltimore. It would be “a wonderful thing,” Trump explained, if the response to the “riots” was more aggressive.

    [...]

    Trump also frequently threatens lawsuits as a way to silence his critics. If you want to focus on one example, this Politico piece on Trump’s efforts to intimidate a securities analyst who accurately predicted the failure of a Trump casino is a great read. And this week, a lot of people have seen the frivolous cease-and-desist letter that a Trump lawyer sent just this week to a Trump critic. Think about that. Right in the middle of the GOP convention, just a few days ago, Trump had his lawyers send a threat to bring a baseless lawsuit.

    Now imagine what a President Trump would do with the executive power of the United States granted to him under Article II. Under the unitary executive, President Trump would control all of federal law enforcement.

  • Trump Draws Media Criticism For His Connections To Russia After His “Downright Frightening” Statements On NATO

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Media figures have raised questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's connections, financial and otherwise, to Russia after he told The New York Times that he would honor NATO obligations to defend a member nation from a potential attack by Russia only if the member nation had “fulfilled their obligations to us.” Media figures have called the remarks “downright frightening,” possible evidence of a “non-tacit alliance” between Putin and Trump, and a possible cause for “an urgent investigation into whether Putin is interfering in the current American election.”

  • Fox’s Ralph Peters: Trump’s NATO Position Is “Destructive And Idiotic”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following comments Donald Trump made to The New York Times raising the possibility that as president he would not honor the United States’ NATO obligations, Fox News national security analyst Ralph Peters called Trump’s position “the most destructive and idiotic statement on foreign policy” by a presidential candidate in his lifetime.

    In a July 20 interview with the Times, Trump “called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.” Trump suggested that, as president, he would assist Baltic NATO member states “only after reviewing whether those nations ‘have fulfilled their obligations to us.’”

    Peters blasted Trump’s comments during a July 21 interview on Fox Business, saying that “there’s no excuse for what Trump said, and what he did was invite Vladimir Putin to invade the Baltics,” adding that “Trump’s throwing [the Baltic NATO member states] to the wolves” and “knows nothing about” NATO: