Tag Archives: Russia

Who ‘turned’ the 2016 GOP Convention Platform?

As Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller hunkers down, subpoenas stalk the corridors of power, and James Comey is set to testify before Congress, how about having a word or two with the Chair and Co-Chairs of the 2016 GOP Platform Committee?

‘Seems like it’s about time to revisit the story of changes to the 2016 GOP Platform that
dramatically altered the party’s position on arming the Ukraine to resist Russian incursions.

Perhaps Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming (chair), Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma (co-vice-chair) and Rep. Virginia Foxx of N.C.(the other co-vice-chair) could shed some light on the subject.

News reports contemporary to the Convention indicated that, at the behest of the Trump team, the party platform was altered,  eliminating a call for lethal defense arms to be supplied to the Ukrainians for their fight against the Russians. That story was later challenged by, among others in the Trump campaign’s inner circle, Paul Manafort, international man of mystery, himself.

On July 18, The Washington Post wrote:

The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.images

Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.

“This is another example of Trump being out of step with GOP leadership and the mainstream in a way that shows he would be dangerous for America and the world,” said Rachel Hoff, another platform committee member who was in the room.

Of course Mr. Manafort has suffered a marked credibility downgrade since last summer, but the FBI would, nevertheless, very much like a word with him.

If we are to believe the denials of Manafort and the rest of Trump’s retinue, we are forced to accept that the revision to the platform just happened spontaneously, unaided by human intervention. It certainly wasn’t proposed by any mainstream Republicans, who have predictably been even more hostile to the Russians than have Democrats.

One could be forgiven for forgetting Republican hawks’ traditional  hard position on Russia, as they have recently become such fervent apologists for Donald Trump (and, by extension, Russia) tut-tutting the very idea of Russian intervention on Trump’s behalf. Only Lindsey Graham and John McCain seem at all familiar on the subject.

It’s positively surreal; but that’s the new GOP.

Anyway, if the chair and co-chair persons can’t shed some light on this odd transformation of policy, there are a couple of other platform delegates whom I am sure would be more than happy to tell us what happened.

According to NPR (Aug. 21, 2016):

“It started when platform committee member Diana Denman tried to insert language calling for the U.S. to provide lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainian government, which is fighting a separatist insurrection backed by Russia. Denman says she had no idea she was “going into a fire fight,” calling it “an interesting exchange, to say the least…

The Trump campaign convinced the platform committee to change Denman’s proposal. It went from calling on the U.S. to provide Ukraine “lethal defensive weapons” to the more benign phrase “appropriate assistance…”

…Another GOP delegate on the platform committee, Rachel Hoff, is a national security analyst with the American Action Forum and believe the final platform language signals that a Trump administration would refuse to send lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.”

Wouldn’t you like to hear from both of these delegates?

H.R. McMaster shreds the Honor Code

You are undoubtedly familiar with the Honor Code H.R. McMaster was required to adhere to when he was a cadet at West Point. Everyone knows “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” A seemingly simple rule that anyone can comprehend and follow, but you may not know the rest of it. In this case it is clear beyond clear that McMaster violated the Code by quibbling.

LYING: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead. The term for this kind of evasive, misleading statement is “quibbling”, and it is considered a violation of the Code.

In the administration’s effort to discredit the report of the president revealing sensitive classified intelligence to Russian officials in the White House, they had McMaster make this statement:

The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. … At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen.

This was a clear attempt to lead the listener to conclude that the press story was false, but it did so in what has been termed a classic non-denial denial. He categorically denied certain actions, discussing intelligence sources or methods and disclosing military operations that were not already publicly known. By listening to his statement we are expected to conclude that the story reported by the Post and others was false and shouldn’t be relied upon. If you look more closely, though, you see that the stories in question never claimed that he discussed sources and methods or military operations.

In other words, in order to give the false impression that the Post story was wrong McMaster denied facts that were never alleged. That is, he told a partial truth and used vague or ambiguous language with the intent to mislead.

I don’t know if a military officer remains bound to the Honor Code when he is no longer a cadet, but at a minimum he violated the most basic principles that those seeking a commission in the armed forces are expected to follow.

Can you possibly argue that this can be tolerated?