Donald Trump’s love affair with Russia has not only caused Trump to allegedly spill secrets to a couple of guys named Sergey. Trump’s Russia fixation has also spilled over into the rhetoric of the white nationalists who follow him.
How else to explain the curious sights and sounds at protests led by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer just days after Trump revealed classified information to the Russians during a White House meeting?
The torch-bearing demonstrators were protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Va. But instead of accompanying their Klan-like symbolism with the racist slogans of their forebears, they chanted, “You will not replace us,” and “Russia is our friend.”
Given that white nationalists in America claim to be focused on saving America for white people, I don’t get their sudden Russia fixation. But I guess that’s the effect of having a president who benefited from Russian hacking, fired the man who was investigating possible Russian collusion with his campaign, and topped it all off by allegedly revealing classified information to Russian diplomats.
With that much Russia love coming from the same man whose bigoted campaign rhetoric wowed them, I can understand how white nationalists might get off message. But I can’t believe they’re so wrapped up in their racism that this mess doesn’t trouble them.
We all watched with raised eyebrows as the president fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading the investigation of possible Russian cooperation with Trump’s campaign. We were shocked to learn that the president revealed highly classified information about an ISIS terror plot to Russian diplomats Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak.
Sadly, it seems that white nationalists aren’t as concerned as the rest of us. After all, they got what they wanted. They helped elect a president who promised to ban Muslims, stop and frisk black people, deport millions of Latinos, and make America white — I mean great — again.
They desperately want to believe Trump is a competent leader. But a growing mountain of evidence tells us something different.
Not only are there numerous Trump associates with connections to Russia. We now know that the president who refused to show us his tax returns made $100 million from Russian business interests since 2008.
That would’ve been nice to know during a campaign in which Trump was strangely complimentary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but I don’t know that it would’ve made a difference.
Even after the Washington Post reported Monday night that Trump shared highly classified information with Russian diplomats during a meeting closed to American media but open to the Russian press, Trump’s supporters are still on board, and they show no sign of changing their minds.
As has been the case with past Trump missteps, conservative media embraced the White House version of the story. That version does not focus on the incident itself. Rather, it hones in on the leaks that allowed the story to be told.
“I think national security is put at risk by this leak and by leaks like this,” said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who spoke to the media after Trump tweeted that he’d shared information with the Russians about the fight against ISIS. “And there are a number of instances where this has occurred, and I think it’s important to investigate these sort of things.”
I agree. It’s important to investigate. So let’s investigate the ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Let’s start with Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman after he was accused of receiving $12.7 million in secret payments from former Ukrainian President and Russian ally Viktor Yanukovych. Let’s talk about Jeff Sessions, who failed to reveal his conversations with Russians during Senate confirmation hearings. Or Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who failed to disclose his contacts with the Russians when he sought security clearances.
We should investigate all of that. Then we should investigate why Trump’s followers are so willing to ignore the president’s alleged ties to a country that has long been an enemy of the United States.
If after investigating, we learn that Trump and his cronies are beholden to Russia, we must acknowledge that those ties are a bigger threat to national security than any leak to the American media.
But even if we find such ties, that might not be enough to convince people such as Spencer and the white nationalists who marched to save a statue of a Confederate general.
After all, such people are accustomed to embracing traitors in an effort to maintain white supremacy.
But it’s one thing to light torches in a childish effort to intimidate people into accepting racist monuments in public spaces. It’s something else altogether to be naïve enough to believe Russia is our friend.
Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books. Listen to him mornings from 7 to 10 on WURD (900-AM).