What really happened between Trump and Putin in Helsinki?
Re “Is Trump committing treason?” (Opinion, July 17): John Shattuck acknowledges that the United States has a history of meddling in foreign politics but adds that this “does not diminish the need to respond decisively to the grave threat to US national security when a foreign power disrupts our democratic process.”
How decisively does he think we should respond to the domestic threats to democracy (gerrymandering, disenfranchisement largely on racial bases, revolving doors between Congress and industry, a two-party duopoly maintained by vast infusions of cash, et al.), each clearly and decisively contributing to the marginalization of the popular will, compared to the Russian threat, whose effects remain largely subjunctive?
Richard M. Nasser
There’s a difference between disloyalty and treason
In his July 17 op-ed, John Shattuck makes one fundamental mistake when he refers to Russia as an “enemy.” They may well be our political enemy — and I agree that they are. But as federal law specifies in 50 US Code Section 2204, we must be engaged in hostilities — i.e., a shooting war — for a country to be considered our enemy within the application of the treason clause and laws.
He makes another huge mistake when he suggests that Trump “adheres” to our enemy, Russia. In fact, American law holds that “adhering” means an affirmative joining, not just actions of assistance. Even during the Cold War, no American convicted of spying for the Soviet Union was ever convicted of treason — not even the Rosenbergs.
If treason (under American law) did have the expansive definition that Shattuck and others are claiming, Trump and his minions would be using it against his critics — especially Hillary Clinton. He wouldn’t even have to win the cases, because by bringing those cases, he could force his opponents to spend time and money defending against prosecution rather than building strength and seeking to unseat him.
What Trump is doing is arguably disloyal; but it is not treason.
Jonathan T. Melick
After Trump’s outrageous performance in Helsinki, this is the time that voters need to look more closely at the issue of integrity in politics. Why is it that Republicans have to be either retiring or terminally ill before they speak out about Trump’s alternative reality? Does the GOP really think this is good for the country, or do they simply monitor the popularity polls and think about their next election prospects?
Difficult political decision-making should represent the will of the people as tempered by the knowledge and wisdom of our political leaders. The GOP leadership has been failing us.
An American stress test
Cardiologists use a physical stress test to determine if a patient’s heart is at risk. Regulators use financial stress tests to evaluate the ability of banks to survive an economic downturn. Unfortunately, there is no advance test to find out the viability and resiliency of democratic institutions. Instead, a free press, the rule of law, a fair voting system, an independent judiciary, and the integrity of political leadership are put to the test by events that are as sudden and stressful as they are unforeseen.
President Trump’s statements during the last week — at NATO, in England, in Helsinki, and in between — present an extraordinarily alarming challenge to our institutions. Trump stands for nothing less than abandoning Western values and undermining our democratic way of life. Our political leaders must, without regard to party, respond forcefully and effectively to his provocations. At a minimum, political leaders at local, state, and especially the national level should reassert our values by approving motions of censure of the president.
John D. Aram
Use of the term ‘meddling’ sounds like fake news
Re “Trump lets Putin deny meddling” (Page A1, July 17). Why does everyone continue to use the term “meddling” to describe what is clearly a major attack on our country? The Russians did not “meddle” in our election process; at this point, it is impossible not to conclude that their sophisticated and specifically targeted efforts cost Hillary Clinton untold numbers of votes. Even so, Trump/Putin fell far short of receiving a majority of votes cast in the “crooked” 2016 election.
“Meddling” trivializes the Russian attack on our democratic process, which should define our country. It is also an antiquated term. Imagine saying, “Stop meddling in European affairs, Adolf!” Or, “That Mr. Stalin seems to be meddling with certain populations in his country.”
Please step up and call the successful Russian efforts the attack that they were and continue to be. And think about the implications of allowing a “president” with such questionable credentials to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will influence the direction of the country for decades. Republicans, where are you?
It is now time for special counsel Robert Mueller to subpoena President Trump. To quote Trump, we need to “find out what the hell is going on.”
Garlan Morse Jr.