The New York business magnate and GOP presidential nominee held a news conference at which he criticized his Democratic rival and promised better of US-Russian relations under a Trump administration.
“I have nothing to do with Russia,” said the candidate, who frequently asserts he will get Putin’s respect. Trump said he had never met or spoken to the Russian leader, but he cast doubt over accusations that Moscow was behind a hack of Democratic Party e-mails that embarrassed the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“If it is Russia, which it probably isn’t, but if it is Russia, it’s bad for a different reason, it shows how little respect they have for our country,” said Trump in reference to the e-mail hack.
He then referenced Clinton’s scandal involving her use of a personal e-mail server during her time as secretary of state, and the more than 30,000 messages that she deleted on grounds they were personal and not related to her government job function.
“I will tell you this, Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said.
The Democrats and much of the media are jumping all over this, criticizing Trump for inviting a foreign power to hack a political rival. And I have to agree. Even if you argue that this was more of an off-the-cuff remark and Trump was merely saying the Russians should release e-mails — an assessment I think is probably accurate — he was still making light of a foreign power influencing our politics. It’s not “treason” but it’s the sort of thing you shouldn’t be doing when dealing with someone as dangerous as Putin.
However … I wish we could get some consistency on this kind of thing. Because whatever you think of Trump’s remark, it’s kind of small potatoes compared to this:
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.
“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”
Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”
Kennedy did not just challenge the Soviets to embarrass his political rival. He offered a list of specific things he would do to advance their agenda. He would visit Moscow and give them information about our politics. He would arrange for Andropov to have interviews with American media. And Kennedy would lever this “thawing” to lead opposition to Reagan and, hopefully, put himself in the White House in 1988. He essentially wanted to conduct his own foreign policy of detente.
This was far more serious than Trump’s gaffe today but the media ignored it and have continued to ignore it for years. Just as they pretended Hillary Clinton’s deleted e-mails were a big bowl of nothing and are now OUTRAGED that Trump would suggest the Russians release them. It’s political opportunism at its rankest.
So, yeah, I’ll be happy to blast Trump for suggesting, even jokingly, that a foreign power hack his political rival and influence American politics. But I will also blast Ted Kennedy and the fifth column within the Democratic Party that he represented. Because I don’t see this as yet another tool to bash the other party with.