There is a certain element of timeliness inherent in the constitutional crisis that is Donald Trump’s nearing inauguration. The uproar over Trump’s developing Dossier Scandal is appropriate, and its potential to contain erroneous information does not warrant any reason to slow investigations into its claims. Trump is going to be the least transparent president in 40 years, reversing an objectively welcome trend toward financial transparency, and the growing suspicion that Trump is hiding impeachment-worthy sums of debt to foreign banks (for example, Trumps owes up to $300 million to Deutsche Bank) along with financial entanglements with foreign oligarchs deserves immediate attention.
Donald Trump Jr.’s 2008 explanation that much of the Trumps’ money was coming from Russia seems to immediately dump disbelief all over Trump’s claims that he has no business involvement with Russia whatsoever. The dossier may be less than the sum of its salacious but unverifiable details, yet it is but one piece of unfolding evidence suggesting that Trump should not be president. That its context and veracity are pursued is the most important thing our free press—our persistent 4th branch of government—should ensure.
Without a US Intelligence doubt, the Russian government hacked the DNC and orchestrated a misinformation campaign to shepherd liberal Democrats away from Hillary Clinton and smear Clinton’s reputation in the minds of echo chamber conservatives on Facebook. Despite the Russian affront to US self-sovereignty, Trump has been more willing to insult Meryl Streep, John Lewis, CNN, NATO, and the United Nations than Vladimir Putin. Trump is not behaving like a patriot.
The urgency is in the reality that Trump will be inaugurated in just three days, and that Republicans will soon be able to disrupt the ability of ethics watchdogs and journalists to investigate him. He will be working with Republican majorities in Congress seeking an ambitious agenda without the Democratic executive veto for which the nation popularly voted in November.
The Republican Party will soon control all three branches of government because of insultingly gerrymandered congressional districting that has, along with the natural gerrymander of the Senate and Electoral College, giving the GOP a disproportional majority in our government that is virtually invincible. There has been a tendency in the last few elections of the Democratic Party to lose governmental representation while winning millions more Congressional and presidential votes.
Meanwhile, President-Elect Donald Trump and his administration have upped their rivalry against the press (escalating conflicts is all Trump seems to know how to do), muddied up his supporters’ conception of a free and independent press, and threatened to remove the media’s access to his presidency. Trump literally campaigned on the idea that the media is “disgusting.” Donald Trump is authoritatively not on the media’s side.
As such, almost-President Trump will not be cooperating according to transparency, respect, precedence or intellectual aptitude, and he will continue to lie about virtually anything he wants. Trump’s enduring compulsion for childish Twitter usage gives no indication that he will cease his compulsions to destroy anyone who pricks his thin, thin, little-emperor skin.
The kicker is that Trump could disprove all the allegations (in the dossier and elsewhere) of blackmail-able financial conflicts of interest. Releasing his tax returns would go a long way to prove his non-entanglement with Russia. For the record, Trump did promise he would release his tax returns, though it was nestled in between months of excuses such as:
- that all of his years are being audited (not true)
- that tax information can’t be released during an audit (not true)
- that no one’s interested (not true)
- that nothing can be learned from them (not true)
- that he can’t have a conflict of interest because he’s president (not true)
- that he doesn’t have to
But Trump isn’t releasing anything, is he? And he’s not going to.
The Trump Administration did not even release any of the mysterious documents in his press conference last week. To the side of Trump’s podium sat a mountain of folders alleging to be the documents disentangling Trump from his businesses, but none of the documents were individually cited or described. A later press release about the business structure included just six pages.
During the press conference—for which Trump, unusually, did not speak the entire time—the speakers did not seem to share the same conceptions of Trump’s future level of involvement in his businesses, or the legal legitimacy of his prospective amalgamation of private and public focus while serving as president. Now, he soon will officially be president in an undeservedly Republican-controlled government that is charging full steam ahead down the predictable Republican track of gutting the “public” out of public government, that historically leads to economic depression.
That the GOP lost the national presidential election by nearly 3 million votes but is using the convenient and suspicious confluence of vote-suppressing ID laws, of James Comey’s FBI politiking, of Russian media espionage, and of the anti-Obama institutional sabotage to claim a mandate to undo literally everything twice-elected Obama did is democratically destructive.
The path to defeating Trump begins with identifying the threat he poses to American national interests and security, and the dossier is a relevant topic of media attention because it has been circling in top levels of government as well as news companies for months. BuzzFeed responsibly included a disclaimer that it hadn’t yet been verified but that they thought their readers should know of the dossier’s existence. Still, numerous media organizations criticized BuzzFeed’s decision to publish, though in return the Trump Administration has issued various threats against the media at large, particularly CNN (which has also criticized BuzzFeed’s publishing decision) and the dossier is requisitely getting even more press.
With various sources, including Vice-President Joe Biden, having affirmed that the dossier’s allegations had in fact been included in the daily presidential briefing, the decision to publish—though risky—is of course pursuant toward the interest of disclosing pertinent threats to our democracy.
May the dossier and cornucopia of other pieces of evidence of Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to be addressed, investigated, and expedited, as all potential public harm must be defended against vigorously and courageously by the media in spite of the Trump Administration’s promised attacks on facts, transparency, and responsible impartiality.