Trump and the Russian connection

 

Sir, – The election of Donald Trump is, without question, potentially disastrous for the US and the wider western democratic world. But I haven’t heard anyone claim credibly that his election was illegitimate, in the sense that it didn’t comply with American constitutional requirements. This seems to be the reason that there is now an apparent push toward impeachment.

The principal avenue being pursued in this connection now seems to be the Russian connection. Media outlets, including your newspaper, are flooding us with so far unsubstantiated allegations tending in this direction. The sources are unnamed, but nearly always are said to be in the intelligence or security services. No evidence has been produced that Donald Trump himself was implicated. Indeed, no less a person than Senator Dianne Feinstein, of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, has accepted that there is no evidence that Trump’s attitude to Russia is part of a conspiracy that links him to Russian hacking of last year’s election.

So, in what way do you think that a headline (July 12th) saying “Emails confirm Trump and Russia attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton” is justified? A reading of the report indicates that one Rob Goldstone suggested to Donald Trump jnr that he might meet one Natalia Veselnitskaya, in order to hear of some dirt she had on Hillary Clinton. Ms Veselnitskaya is reported elsewhere to be “a formidable presence in the courtrooms of suburban Moscow”, and her connections otherwise indicate that her concern, in relation to the US, is the Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned some Russian officials. Mr Trump jnr may have hoped for dirt on Hillary Clinton, but she says she had none. We don’t know, and aren’t told, to what extent Mr Goldstone was pursuing an otherwise opaque agenda.

Is there anything unusual in interested parties trying to get negative information on their opponents in the case of an election campaign? Is it at all unusual for one country to try to influence the outcome of an election in another? The US engages in this routinely, and has a National Endowment for Democracy and an International Republican Institute, both publicly funded, which have done just that in, for example, the Ukraine and Georgia.

I don’t in any way wish to suggest that, in a perfect world, all this would be other than deplorable. But your readers deserve, I think, the full picture. In addition, they could be spared a deal of hysteria. – Yours, etc,

PÁDRAIG MURPHY,

Dalkey , Co Dublin.