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WATCH LIVE: TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL DAY 6

About the Only Evidence Left that Trump Isn’t Beholden to Putin is That It’s Just Too Obvious

I strive very hard to never blindly jump on any bandwagon of the media’s conventional wisdom and popularly-accepted opinion. I also am exceedingly aware that it is very easy to overreact in the midst of an intense news cycle which, especially in this era, will likely be largely forgotten by the end of the week.

With that said, it is still imperative to express the utter shock, disgust, and even horror which was induced by today’s joint press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For the first time in this insane Trump presidency, I am truly scared, and I am not afraid to admit it. Something is fundamentally and catastrophically wrong with our president, and it is presenting a very real threat the security of our nation and to the very global structure which has maintained relative order in the West since the end of World War II.

I have been almost obsessive about maintaining an open mind about the results of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and to refrain from buying into any seemingly outlandish conspiracy theories. Over time, I have been inching towards the conclusion that Trump is probably frightened, for good reason, about something very damaging coming out about him, but that neither the ultimate “charge,” nor the evidence available to prove it, would be enough to overcome the many obstacles to removing him from office.

However, after watching Trump bow to Putin in nearly every possible way, in what was a totally surreal and complete surrender to a brutal dictator and killer who attacked our democratic process, it now appears that what is really going on may be far more significant than even the currently known scope of Robert Mueller’s probe. In short, we must now start to accept the astonishing reality that the president of the United States, a man who pretends to be a tough guy in all other matters, is effectively a Russian stooge.

There is simply no other way to logically explain all which happened at that unprecedented joint press conference, which, it is important to remember, only happened because Trump wanted this summit and came after a meeting where no other American diplomats were allowed to be present. Here is a quick review:

  • Trump attacked numerous American institutions while never even remotely criticizing Putin.
  • Trump refused to side with American intelligence against the word of Putin, even praising the known liar’s defense against the charge of Russian influence on the election.
  • Trump, in an act which must have Ronald Reagan spinning in his grave, when asked point blank to “denounce” Putin over the election hacking and “warn” him not to do it again, refused to answer and instead babbled on about supposedly missing servers and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  • Trump blamed America for the poor relations with Russia.
  • Trump praised Putin’s outlandish idea of having Mueller consult with Russian intelligence about his investigation.
  • Trump appeared to support Putin’s attack on Bill Browder, an American-born Putin critic who helped get the United States to impose sanctions on Russia.
  • Trump stood silent as Putin contradicted Trump’s own past claims by admitting that Russia wanted Trump to win (If he didn’t before, today certainly gave him every reason to be thrilled it turned out that way) and implying, essentially siding with U.S. intelligence more than Trump, that Putin had actually helped that happen.
  • Trump happily took a soccer ball which Putin gave him, which was presumably a gift to the United States as a nation, and immediately decided it was his own personal possession, saying he would give it to his youngest son, but then strangely tossed it to his wife Melania, as if to suggest that he never actually sees Barron.

After this catastrophic disaster, it is no longer debatable that Trump is totally under Putin’s thumb. The only real question is why this is the case. There are two very different theories which make the most sense.

The first, to which many “conservatives” are still clinging, is that this is all just about Trump’s ego or narcissism, his adoration for dictators in general, his ignorance of basic foreign policy tenants, his vulnerability to being intimidated, his cowardice to take on any real conflict, and his fear over having his precious election victory being delegitimized in the eyes of history. This take is, on the surface, sensible but after today it might now be antiquated.

I am very willing to believe that Trump’s personal psychological illnesses are driving a lot of this insanity. However, this theory doesn’t appear to explain why he went so absurdly far today.

Why the private meeting with Putin? Why not just say he believes the American intelligence community and leave it at that? Why go out of his way to attack Americans, on foreign soil, to Russia’s benefit, in Putin’s presence? Due to his extremely unorthodox manner and limited intellect, Trump’s actions are inherently difficult to interpret, but it just seems like there has to be something even more sinister going on here than just Trump being easily manipulated by a former KGB agent.

The second theory is something close to the plot of classic Russian spy movies The Manchurian Candidate and No Way Out. This is the idea that Trump, either literally or just effectively — as ridiculous as it is to even seriously contemplate — is a Russian intelligence asset.

Until today, I presumed that this possibility was, at best, far-fetched. Now, it is impossible to dismiss this seemingly incomprehensible scenario. In fact, the best evidence we currently have that this is just a fantasy is that that, thanks to Trump’s own actions, it is far too obvious that it might really be true.

Obviously, relying solely on that premise is far from comforting.

This situation is not a movie, but it is also not a drill. This is a real crisis which require significant action and courage from Republicans in order to protect our very way of life. Unfortunately, there is very little reason to think that they will finally emerge from their Trump-induced moral stupor unless forced to by being removed from power.

John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud  or email him at [email protected]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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