Commentary: It’s time for action

America is under attack. You would not know that by the reactions of the commander in chief, or by the Republican majority in the government. At first the intrusion appeared as a flood of disinformation aimed at misleading voters. We were assured that there was no vote tampering. As the investigation digs deeper, we find that hackers penetrated at least 21 state election sites. Maybe next week we will find that crucial vote totals were affected, or Republican officials were directly involved.

The official response to an attack? Our leadership says that there is nothing to see, his attorney general knows nothing, and Republicans are either dismissive, or attack the credibility of the FBI. Officials who ask questions are fired. There is so little interest or recollection about Russian dealings with that you might be persuaded that they are hiding something.

Trump’s original national security adviser was removed after lying about his contacts with Russians. Vice President Mike Pence was aware of these ties as head of the transition team after the election, as well as knowing of Flynn’s paid work for foreign governments, but did not raise a red flag. Flynn continued to have access to top secret information for weeks after the Trump team was informed of his dealings.

Putin’s Russia has a bad record. Russia invaded and annexed parts of Georgia in 2008. In 2014 Russian troops entered the Ukraine, an ongoing conflict. In 2015 and 2016 Russia shut off gas supplies to Europe in the mid-winter, and later was implicated in the downing of a passenger jet with a Russian missile. The list of Putin’s critics who have met violent deaths stands at least at 10. The causes of death include gunshot, mysterious illnesses, and poisonings, one by plutonium. Russia props up the Syrian dictator Assad. Russia has been practicing cyberattacks on Ukraine, shutting down power grids and other essential services. Russia’s actions speak loudly.

Trump has high praise for tyrants, and disdain for his democratically elected allies. Trump praised Putin repeatedly during his campaign. Typical of Trump declarations, he has both said he has met and never met Putin, and does no business in Russia or large amounts of business, depending upon who he was talking to. We do know that Trump admires Putin’s leadership, and bragged of his description of Trump as “brilliant.”

What is not in doubt is that Russia interfered in the American 2016 presidential election, as well as interfering in European elections. Seventeen intelligence agencies have identified Russian hacking, and multiple investigations are proceeding. Trump’s reaction so far? He speaks of returning some diplomatic residences to Russia that were confiscated under Obama as a retaliation for the interference. He proclaims a “witch hunt” or a “hoax.” He casts doubt on the intrusion. His public statements, and his tweets, make matters worse by implicating himself and by obstructing justice. Instead, Trump spends time attacking Obama’s legacy, and the health care of many of his supporters. He is stuck in eternal campaign mode, with no interest in governing or protecting the country against Russia.

Presidents swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” There are no exceptions where a president can disregard his responsibilities because of financial interests, or business ties. All elected officials swear a similar oath. Shirking their ethical responsibilities betrays America’s trust.

What can be done? We have a powerful local official who has the capacity to shed light on this darkness and influence public opinion. Using his far-ranging powers as House Judiciary Committee chairman, Bob Goodlatte could initiate inquiries into tax returns, ethics, and executive branch misbehaviors. Goodlatte could reveal Trump’s feet of clay.

It is time for Rep. Bob Goodlatte to declare his allegiance to our Republic instead of the Republican Party. It should be clear to all Americans regardless of party affiliation that the U.S. was attacked by a foreign power and could be attacked again. The cause for Trump’s inaction must be investigated and exposed. Our congressman is uniquely positioned to perform a singular service to our country by exposing lies and revealing the truth to hardcore Trump supporters. What better actor to perform this service than an early Trump supporter?

Russian involvement has created turmoil, confusion, disunion and doubt, and prompted our president to commit compromising behavior. A proper investigation would allow Goodlatte to break away from the crowd, and would distinguish him from the flood of Republicans soon to be fleeing the sinking Trump vessel.

Steve Foreman is a Warren County resident.