June 15, 2017

Demand full disclosure of contacts with Russia

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Dear Editor:

As I watched the Senate testimony of former FBI Director James Comey on June 8, I wondered whether my fellow Ukrainian Americans are paying attention to the multiple scandals unfolding in Washington. Never before have we seen a president and his administration currying favor with the Russian government to this extreme.

There is no longer any doubt on the part of our intelligence community, the FBI and the CIA that the Russians penetrated our electoral system on a massive and sophisticated scale. The Watergate break-in was trivial compared to Vladimir Putin’s penetration of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. Yet President Donald Trump can’t wait to sweep this massive intrusion under the rug and to distract Americans from this gross violation of our democratic process.

There is no longer any doubt that Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and others at the highest levels of the Trump administration sought to make common cause with the Russians. The photo of Mr. Trump meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov and laughing heartily should turn the stomach of every freedom-loving American. When Mr. Kushner tried to establish back-channel communications with Ambassador Kislyak in January, the Russians must have felt like they’d hit a jackpot in one of Mr. Trump’s Las Vegas casinos.

As much as Mr. Trump would have his minions believe that this is all “fake news,” the evidence of coordination, perjury under oath and collusion is becoming blatant and overwhelming.

I was pleased to see that, here in Connecticut, some Ukrainian Americans are beginning to protest against the tens of millions of dollars that Paul Manafort received for his 10 years of strategic planning and influence-peddling services on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych and Mr. Putin’s top oligarchs. Why didn’t Mr. Trump run a basic background check on Mr. Manafort before he became his campaign chairman? Or was Mr. Trump fully aware of Mr. Manafort’s sordid history; did he deliberately hire him to ingratiate himself with Mr. Putin and surround himself with advisers completely lacking in scruples or moral compass?

For every one of their blatant violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), Messrs. Manafort and Flynn should face multiple sentences in federal prison. Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans who are concerned about Mr. Putin’s aggression and his breach of America’s electoral process should be clamoring for full disclosure of every contact and maneuver between the Trump campaign and Russia’s global disinformation machine.

Instead of making excuses for Mr. Trump’s boorish and outlandish behavior, or trying to make sense of his juvenile tweets, Ukrainian Americans should be on the frontlines of the campaign to bring Messrs. Manafort, Flynn, Sessions and Trump himself to justice.

New Haven, Conn.

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