US Senators unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to take further action against Venezuelan officials.
The bill also expressed support for a controversial move by Organisation of American States (OAS) head Luis Almagro to invoke the Democratic Charter. If invoked, Venezuela would be suspended from the OAS. When Almagro first announced the move in 2016, he also demanded President Nicolas Maduro be “immediately” removed from office, prompting many Latin American leaders to accuse the OAS head of overreach.
Despite the controversy, the Senate bill called on Trump to “provide full support for OAS efforts in favour of constitutional and democratic solutions to the political impasse and to instruct federal agencies to hold officials of the Venezuelan government accountable for violations of US law and abuses of internationally recognised human rights.”
The bill will now head to the House of Representatives.
One of the main supporters of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio, thanked both Republicans and Democrats for supporting the move.
“I thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this bipartisan resolution calling for the government of Venezuela to respect the constitutional and democratic processes and release all political prisoners,” Rubio said in a statement.
The bill was co-sponsored by prominent Democrats including Senators Bob Menendez and Bill Nelson, along with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential running mate Tim Kaine.
Venezuela has already been hit by numerous US sanctions. One of former president Barack Obama’s last acts in office was the renewal of an executive order in January, declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to national security.
The executive order wasn’t set to expire until March, though White House officials said Obama went ahead with renewal early to ensure a “a smooth transition” for the Trump administration.
Since then, the Trump administration has slapped Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami with sanctions, including a travel ban and an asset freeze targeting one of his alleged close confidants, the entrepreneur Samark Lopez. Both Aissami and Lopez have been accused of involvement in international drug trafficking. Aissami has denied the allegations, stating in February that he was the victim of anti-Venezuela hardliners in Washington “ “whose fundamental interest is to prevent Venezuela and the United States from restoring their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect”.
“These interest groups not only lack any evidence to demonstrate the extremely serious accusations against me, but they also have built a false-positive case in order to criminalise –through me– the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a country that is decidedly waging a war on transnational drug trafficking business,” he said.
Today’s fake news story comes from Greenpeace.
The supposed record comes from Esperanza. As Jim Steele at WUWT points out, Esperanza is at the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, at a latitude of 63.4S, just about as far outside the Antarctic Circle as you could get.
And as WUWT also points out, the temperature was purely the product of a fohn wind.
The temperature of 63.5F was actually set in March 2015, but has only just been officially confirmed by the WMO. As the Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post noted at the time, the previous record of 62.8F was also set at Esperanza as far back as 1961.
The implication now is that “balmy” temperatures of 63F are unheard of Antarctica, which is clearly nonsense.
And as we can see, monthly average temperatures in March 2015 were not in the least unusual. Indeed, the hottest March was in 1965.
None of this information is mentioned by either Greenpeace, or media outlets such as MSN, who also carry the story.
But the really dishonest part is that photo of two poor penguins stranded at the top of a melting lump of snow.
As Joe has discovered, exactly the same photo appeared in December 2013, in an article by the International Science Times, which was about record cold temperatures in Antarctica. The picture is actually on Cape Denison, as the report makes clear:
When it’s late February and you’re complaining about the winter dragging endlessly on, take comfort in the fact that you’re not on the East Antarctic Plateau, where scientists have measured the coldest temperature on earth. At negative 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the August 10, 2010, temperature was “tens of degrees colder than anything ever seen in Alaska, Siberia or Greenland,” said Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the group that made the discovery.
The US security establishment is trying to justify its existence, says Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Peace Institute, commenting on a new report which lists how NATO can help the Baltic States counter Russian ‘hybrid warfare.’
The American global policy think-tank, the RAND Corporation, published a report that claims NATO should do more to counter the potential Russian threat and strengthen the Baltic countries’ forces. The US government-funded body issued a report titled “Hybrid Warfare in the Baltics: Threats and Potential Responses.”
The document raises concern over “Russian use of “hybrid warfare” best understood as covert or deniable activities, supported by conventional or nuclear forces, to influence the domestic politics of target countries.”
The author of the report, Andrew Radin claims “these tactics are of particular concern in the Baltic countries of Estonia and Latvia, which have significant Russian-speaking minorities.” He warns that there is concern Russia will seek to use these minorities to gain influence in the region, “use covert action to seize territory, use subversion to justify a conventional attack, or otherwise use deniable or covert means to gain influence in the Baltics and undermine the EU and NATO.”
RT discussed the report with McAdams and asked him why potential “Russian aggression” is in the spotlight again. Is there a real threat?
In his view, what we are seeing is just another example of the national security establishment in the US “having to justify its existence.”
“The report itself outlines many things that NATO has to do to help the Baltics. The Baltics are absolutely irrelevant to the security of NATO. Their only relevance is geographic. They are close to Russia. Therefore, NATO can hold exercises on Russia’s border to provoke Russia. As far as the Baltics, look at Latvia, for example, if it is so concerned about Russian warfare or hybrid warfare, why do they spend 0.9 percent of their GDP on defense? They are clearly not worried. It really is just a ploy to get more free things from NATO. And for NATO to keep itself alive after it should have been shut down,” McAdams said.
In his opinion, “hybrid warfare” – the report refers to – is a term used when there’s no evidence that Russia has done anything wrong.
It was hybrid warfare when Russia “invaded Ukraine.” And that is just because we didn’t see any Russian military in Ukraine. It was hybrid warfare with “the little green men” in Crimea. Well, those little green men in Crimea were already there legally as part of the leased base in Sevastopol. All of these things are made up, it’s part of NATO’s ongoing aggression toward Russia, provocation of Russia and it is desperate to keep itself alive, to keep its budgets rising,” the analyst said. “And sadly, unfortunately, we are seeing that the US president who was rightly critical of NATO, calling it outdated, said in his recent speech to Congress that he loves NATO and thinks it’s great. So, unfortunately, it looks like it is going to be propped up for a while longer. And yes, it is about money,” he added.
Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of Congress was a reasonably well-crafted and well-delivered exercise in communicating his case to the nation. The President opened with a description of the flurry of executive orders in his first 30 days in office, implementing promises made during the electoral campaign.
He then went on to describe the contours of legislation that his administration will send to Congress, starting with the budget and its scrapping of the cap on military spending, which is to enjoy a 10 percent rise in appropriations while domestic and other government spending is slashed. Then there was a review of his plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and a preview of his proposals for cutting taxes and regulations with the goal of creating more well-paying jobs.
In an emotional highpoint, Trump drew attention to the widow of a Special Forces soldier killed in a raid inside Yemen. He also presented a more compassionate – less combative – tone, calling on Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences and work together. His 60-minute address was interrupted 93 times by applause, often standing ovations from Republicans but also some applause from the Democratic side, too.
Trump seemed to bask in the enthusiastic show of support, although such State of the Union speeches typically draw the same sort of surface adulation, with the members from the party in power cheering robustly and those from the other side offering sparser shows of support. Still, the televised images contrasted with the portrayal from the mainstream U.S. news media of an embattled leader caught in a Watergate-like scandal over supposedly illicit contacts with Russia, a narrative Trump mistakenly fed with the hasty firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Feb. 13 during a media frenzy about Flynn talking with the Russian ambassador during the transition.
Flynn became the target of elements inside the U.S. government and the press who opposed Trump’s plans for détente with Russia. Those anti-détente forces are now flexing their muscles, with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley sounding much like her hawkish predecessor Samantha Power, insisting that the United States will not recognize Russia’s takeover of Crimea and then, this week, co-sponsoring a resolution in the U.N. Security Council condemning the Assad regime in Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons, a move that provoked angry protests and a veto from Russia’s envoy.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis carried messages to Europe reaffirming the U.S. commitment to NATO allies and blaming Russia for the failure of the Minsk Accords to resolve the crisis in Ukraine (although a major obstacle was created by the Ukrainian government when it insisted that ethnic Russian rebels in the Donbass region effectively surrender before other steps would be taken). The U.S. statements could have been delivered by neoconservative and liberal-interventionist diplomats from the past several U.S. administrations.
Only the last five minutes of Trump’s address to Congress dealt with foreign relations. And his own words were consonant with what his cabinet officers had been saying. Trump’s campaign opinions about NATO’s obsolescence had disappeared. Russia was not mentioned by name once in the speech, while America’s allies in NATO and in the Pacific were reassured that “America is ready to lead.” That statement was a rare instance when the entire congressional audience rose to its feet in applause.
Back on His Words
Those who had feared that Trump’s populism and “America First” rhetoric spelled isolationism were reassured that “Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.”
In fact, in the entire speech, there were only a few lines toward the end that might give heart to those who hoped that Trump might pursue a dramatically new foreign policy that drew back from America’s vast network of military bases and the tendency to intervene in other countries’ affairs.
Though sounding not unlike boiler-plate language that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama might have used, those words did contain the possible seeds of a less warlike strategy. Trump said: “America is willing to find new friends and to forge new partnerships where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. America is friends today with former enemies. We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies decades ago fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars.”
Depending on the strength of one’s powers of self-delusion, those last words might be construed as a hint: just wait, allow me to get my footing and establish my popularity in Congress and in the broad public and I will come back and deliver on my détente aspirations.
But it is an inescapable reality that the firing of Flynn and Trump’s retreat from his foreign policy intentions were precipitated by the powerful collusion between the intelligence services, particularly the CIA, and the mainstream media with a clear intent to either neuter Trump by forcing a policy reversal on Russia détente or remove him through some form of impeachment. The phoniness of the McCarthyite charges of Russian connections used to smear Trump and his entourage has been well explained in recent articles by Professor Stephen Cohen in The Nation and by Gareth Porter at Consortiumnews.com.
Those with a more conspiratorial turn of mind have long spoken of the Deep State, which ensures continuity of policy whatever the results of U.S. elections with this subterranean power residing largely in the intelligence services, especially the CIA and FBI, in the Pentagon, and in the State Department.
State is said to have been purged in its policy-making “seventh floor” during the week of Secretary Tillerson’s European travels. But the text that was placed before the inexperienced Ambassador Haley for delivery in the Security Council shows that not all the old actors have been sent packing. Any purge of the CIA and Pentagon has not even begun.
The ability of neocons and hardliners at the Pentagon to sabotage presidential policy was demonstrated last September when a promising collaboration between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over a cease-fire in Syria was torn to shreds by an “accidental” attack by U.S. and Allied fighter jets on a Syrian government outpost at Deir ez-Zor that killed nearly 100 Syrian soldiers.
If these recalcitrant Cold Warriors in America’s “power ministries” remain untouched, they will be in a position to create provocations at any time of their choosing to override Trump’s planned détente policies. To do so would be child’s play, given the close proximity of U.S. and Russian forces in Ukraine, in Syria, in the Baltic States, on the Baltic Sea and on the Black Sea.
Given the poor state of relations and the minimal trust between Russia and the U.S.-led West, any accident in these areas could quickly escalate. And then we might see the side of Donald Trump’s personality that his Democratic opponents warned us about, his short temper and alpha-male nature which could bring us into an armed clash the outcome of which is unforeseeable but surely not good.
There is another troubling issue for those who hoped Trump would rein in military spending to finance his promised domestic infrastructure investments. Instead, Trump has focused on expanding military spending even more, financed by cuts in domestic spending. There has not been a word to suggest he is considering restructuring the $600 billion military appropriations, for example by cutting the military bases abroad, which are configured to support precisely the global hegemony and American imperialism that he has denounced.
What is at issue is not only the tens of billions of dollars in savings that would come from slashing this overseas base structure but also removing an American presence from countries where it only serves to foster anti-Americanism and to embroil us either in defending hated regimes or intervening in regional conflicts where we have no vital interests.
Without restructuring and reducing the gargantuan network of foreign military bases, the U.S. will be condemned to a never-ending succession of wars abroad and the entire plan of investment in America is doomed to failure. These are not issues that allow for tactical retreats but rather must be addressed head-on. But who will explain this to a headstrong President with the fawning applause of Congress ringing in his ears?
Gilbert Doctorow is a Brussels-based political analyst. His latest book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.
The British government is helping universities across the UK suppress the right to criticize Israel over its human rights violations in Palestine, says a Jewish professor, vowing to never give in to the pressure.
“They are trying to stop us talking about Palestinian rights, and about peace and we will just not shut up,” Dr. Haim Bresheeth, a Jewish academic and filmmaker, told Press TV on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately the government has helped the universities that want to shut up free speech by accepting a definition of anti-Semitism that makes anti-Semitism any criticism of Israel,” he added.
The scholar was referring to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition that was adopted by the government of Prime Minister Theresa May last year.
It was based on IHRA’s definition that the University of Exeter and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) cancelled an annual pro-Palestinian event on Monday, which was aimed at raising awareness about human rights violations in the occupied territories.
Following the move, some 250 academics at dozens of universities across the UK penned an open letter, condemning the Tory government’s attempts to curb their right to free speech by banning criticism of Israel.
The professors said in their letter that the government’s definition of anti-Semitism is too broad and can include any criticism of Israel with regards to its occupation of Palestinian lands.
“The government has ‘adopted’ the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which can be and is being read as extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights, an entirely separate issue, as prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism,” read the letter, sent to the Guardian.
“This definition seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism,” the academics charged, accusing universities minister Jo Johnson of asking for the definition to be “disseminated” throughout the higher education system.
In his interview with Press TV, Bersheeth said the definition sought to protect “Zionism and Israel” from criticism.
“You can criticize and you should criticize every political institution that you wish,” he argued. “We are told now that Jews who criticize Israel like me are anti-Semitic. This is nonsense.”
I am giving a talk entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” in Leeds University tomorrow. I have just been told by Leeds University Union I will not be allowed to speak unless I submit what I am going to say for pre-vetting.
I am truly appalled that such a gross restriction on freedom of speech should be imposed anywhere, let alone in a university where intellectual debate is meant to be an essential part of the learning experience. I really do not recognise today’s United Kingdom as the same society I grew up in. The common understanding that the values of a liberal democracy are the foundation of society appears to have evaporated.
As regular readers know well, I do not write speeches in advance but always speak extempore. My opinions on Israel and Palestine are very well documented on this blog and elsewhere. I want to see a single, unitary state in Israel/Palestine, encompassing everyone who currently lives in those territories, as a secular democracy blind to ethnicity and religion. This includes an acceptance that further forced large population movements by anybody are not desirable and the Palestinians should receive more compensation than restitution. If I am not permitted to express this view within a University, I find that truly shocking.
I should be equally shocked if anybody who held views very different to my own were not permitted to express them.
I think that if people like me are now being prevented from speaking, society has crossed a very dangerous line indeed.
The New York Times has made it official. In a Sunday front-page article entitled “Trump Ruled the Tabloid Media. Washington Is a Different Story,” the paper gloats that Donald Trump has proved powerless to stop a flood of leaks threatening to capsize his administration.
As reporters Glenn Thrush and Michael M. Grynbaum put it: “This New York-iest of politicians, now an idiosyncratic, write-your-own-rules president, has stumbled into the most conventional of Washington traps: believing he can master an entrenched political press corps with far deeper connections to the permanent government of federal law enforcement and executive department officials than he has.”
Thrush and Grynbaum add a few paragraphs later that Trump “is being force-fed lessons all presidents eventually learn – that the iron triangle of the Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy is simply too powerful to bully.”
Iron triangle? Permanent government? In its tale of how Trump went from being a favorite of the New York Post and Daily News to fodder for the big-time Washington news media, the Times seems to be going out of its way to confirm dark paranoid fears of a “deep state” lurking behind the scenes and dictating what political leaders can and cannot do. “Too powerful to bully” by a “write-your-own-rules president” is another way of saying that the permanent government wants to do things its way and will not put up with a president telling it to take a different approach.
Entrenched interests are nothing new, of course. But a major news outlet bragging about collaborating with such elements in order to cripple a legally established government is. The Times was beside itself with outrage when top White House adviser Steve Bannon described the media as “the opposition party.” But one can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about since an alliance aimed at hamstringing a presidency is nothing if not oppositional.
If so, a few things are worth keeping in mind. One is that Trump was elected, even if only by an Eighteenth-Century relic known as the Electoral College, whereas the deep state, permanent government, or whatever else you want to call it was not. Where Trump gave speeches, kissed babies, and otherwise sought out the vote, the deep state did nothing. To the degree this country is still a democracy, that must count for something. So if the conflict between president and the deep state ever comes down to a question of legitimacy, there is no doubt who will come out ahead: The Donald.
A second thing worth keeping in mind is that if ever there was a case of the unspeakable versus the inedible (to quote Oscar Wilde), the contest between a billionaire president and billionaire-owned press is it.
Both sides are more or less correct in what they say about the other. Trump really is a strongman at war with basic democratic norms just as innumerable Times op-ed articles say he is. And giant press organizations like the Times and the Washington Post are every bit as biased and one-sided as Trump maintains – and no less willfully gullible, one might add, than in 2002 or 2003 when they happily swallowed every lie put out by the George W. Bush administration regarding Iraqi WMDs or Saddam Hussein’s support for Al Qaeda.
Trump’s Feb. 16 press conference – surely the most riveting TV since Jerry Springer was in his prime – is a case in point. The President bobbed, weaved, and hurled abuse like a Catskills insult comic. He threw out pseudo-facts, describing his victory, for instance, as “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan” when in fact George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all got more votes. But commentators who panned the display as a “freak show” or simply “batshit crazy” didn’t get it. It wasn’t Trump who bombed that afternoon, but the press.
Why? Because reporters behaved with all the intelligence of a pack of Jack Russell terriers barking at a cat up a tree. Basically, they’ve been seized by the idée fixe that Russia is a predator state that hacks elections, threatens U.S. national security, and has now accomplished the neat trick of planting a Kremlin puppet in the Oval Office. It doesn’t matter that evidence is lacking or that the thesis defies common sense. It’s what they believe, what their editors believe, and what the deep state believes too (or at least pretends to). So the purpose of the Feb. 16 press conference was to pin Trump down as to whether he also believes the Russia-did-it thesis and pillory him for deviating from the party line.
More than half the questions that reporters threw out were thus about Russia, about Mike Flynn, the ex-national security adviser who got into trouble for talking to the Russian ambassador before the new administration formally took office, or about reputed contacts between the Trump campaign staff and Moscow. One reporter thus demanded to know if anyone from Trump’s campaign staff had ever spoken with the Russian government or Russian intelligence. Another asked if Trump had requested FBI telephone intercepts before determining that Flynn had not broken the law.
“I just want to get you to clarify this very important point,” said a third. “Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?” A fourth wanted to get the President’s reaction to such “provocations” as a Russian communications vessel floating 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut (in international waters). “Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?” the reporter asked as if he had just uncovered a Russian agent in the Lincoln Bedroom. “… But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine this country’s ability to work with Russia?”
When yet another journalist asked yet again “whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election,” Trump cried out in frustration: “How many times do I have to answer this question?” It was the most intelligent query of the day.
The press played straight into Trump’s hands, all but providing him with his best lines. “Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse,” he responded at one point. “That’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now tomorrow, you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”
The prose may not be very polished, but the sentiments are unassailable. Ditto Trump’s statement a few minutes later that “false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. … And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia – and by the way, China and Japan and everyone – if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.”
If the Washington Post and the Times do not agree that bogus assertions about unauthorized contacts with Russia are not poisoning the atmosphere, they should explain very clearly why not. They should also explain what they hope to accomplish with a showdown with Russia and why it will not be a step toward World War III.
But they won’t, of course. The media (with encouragement from parts of the U.S. government) are working themselves into a fit of outrage against Vladimir Putin just as, in past years, they did against Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein (again), Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych. In each instance, the outcome has been war, and so far the present episode shows all signs of heading in the same direction as well.
Reporters may be clueless, but working-class Americans aren’t. They don’t want a war because they’re the ones who would have to fight it. So they’re not unsympathetic to Trump and all the more inclined to give the yapping media short shrift.
This is a classic pattern in which strongmen advance on the basis of a liberal opposition that proves to be weak and feckless. Today’s liberal media are obliging Trump by behaving in a way that is even sillier than usual and well ahead of schedule to boot.
A Fragile Meme
The anti-Russia meme, meanwhile, rests on the thinnest of foundations. The argument that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and thereby tipped the election to Trump is based on a single report by CrowdStrike, the California-based cyber-security firm hired by the DNC to look into the mass email leak. The document is festooned with head-spinning techno-jargon.
It says of Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, the hackers who allegedly penetrated the DNC in behalf of Russian intelligence: “Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none, and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels, and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”
Impressive? Not to independent tech experts who have already begun taking potshots. Sam Biddle, The Intercept’s extremely smart tech writer, notes that CrowdStrike claims to have proved that Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are Russian because they left behind Cyrillic comments in their “metadata” along with the name “Felix Edmundovich,” also in Cyrillic, an obvious reference to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka, as the Soviet political police were originally known.
But, Biddle observes, there’s an obvious contradiction: “Would a group whose ‘tradecraft is superb’ with ‘operational security second to none’ really leave behind the name of a Soviet spy chief imprinted on a document it sent to American journalists? Would these groups really be dumb enough to leave Cyrillic comments on these documents? … It’s very hard to buy the argument that the Democrats were hacked by one of the most sophisticated, diabolical foreign intelligence services in history, and that we know this because they screwed up over and over again.”
Indeed, John McAfee, founder of McAfee Associates and developer of the first commercial anti-virus software, casts doubt on the entire enterprise, wondering whether it is possible to identify a hacker at all. “If I were the Chinese,” he told TV interviewer Larry King in late December, “and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into organizations. … If it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you: it was not the Russians.” (Quote starts at 4:30.)
This may be too sweeping. Nonetheless, if the press really wanted to get to the bottom of what the Russians are doing, they would not begin with the question of what Trump knew and when he knew it. They would begin, rather, with the question of what we know and how we can be sure. It’s the question that the press should have asked during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but failed to. But it’s the question that reporters should be asking now before the conflict with Russia spins out of control, with consequences that are potentially even more horrendous.
It’s not easy making Donald Trump seem like a peacenik, but that’s what the billionaire’s press has done.