The 56-year-long crisis of treasonous and illegitimate US Republican Party presidents is happening again
Courtesy Thom Hartmann of Rawstory
Treason, treachery, trickery and deceits appear to be the traditional method of the ~US Republican Party for winning the Democratic Elections. In fact Trump’s predecessors had some smart foul-play to get elected.
Once again, America and the world are watching with horror as a Republican candidate for president — just to win an election — manipulates world affairs in a way that will cause widespread death and destruction while damaging the interests and reputation of America.
There’s a long tradition of Republicans running for president committing what can best be called treason, or at least criminal manipulation of international affairs, to advantage themselves and hurt incumbent Democratic presidents.
Yesterday, Mitch McConnell let the proverbial cat out of the bag. A bipartisan group of senators had been working on a bill to provide funding to Ukraine and Israel, with money for the southern border, and when it looked like they were going to produce something that would actually pass the House and Senate, Donald Trump inserted himself, telling the Republicans they should kill the bill.
Trump apparently wants to run on chaos at the border, and solving the problem as this legislation is intended to do would take that issue away from him. But he’s also explicitly opposed to any further US aid to Ukraine. This is a treasonous twofer, putting Trump’s election above the interests of the United States and world peace.
Trump, of course, knows that if it weren’t for Putin’s intervention in the 2016 election, he never would have been president. And he desperately needs a repeat to hold onto his fortune and stay out of jail: he’s in a far greater bind now than when he first ran for president as a hustle to get GE to pay him more for his TV show.
His 2016 Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, after all, admitted that during that election he was handing secret internal campaign polling and strategy information off to Russian intelligence, so they could successfully use it to micro-target vulnerable voters via Facebook, an effort that reached 26 million targeted Americans in 6 swing states.
Now, Trump wants Putin’s help again for 2024. He knows that Putin can do things from overseas, including using deepfakes and posing as Americans to spread explicit lies on social media, that would send people to prison for election interference if done here in the US.
Putin’s number one goal, of course, is to seize control of Ukraine while destabilizing western democracies. So, Trump, wanting Putin’s help, is now trying to deliver Ukraine to Putin by killing US aid.
This pattern of Republican presidential candidates criminally intervening in foreign policy just to win elections started in 1968 and has been a feature — not a bug — of every Republican president who succeeded in taking the White House since: it’s time to seriously discuss the five-decade-long problem we have with treasonous and illegitimate GOP presidents.
It started in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson was desperately trying to end the Vietnam war. It had turned into both a personal and political nightmare for him, and his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, who was running for President in the election that year against a “reinvented” Richard Nixon.
Johnson spent most of late 1967 and early 1968 working back-channels to North and South Vietnam, and by the summer of 1968 had a tentative agreement from both for what promised to be a lasting peace deal they’d both sign that fall.
But Richard Nixon knew that if he could block that peace deal, it would kill VP Hubert Humphrey’s chances of winning the 1968 election. So, Nixon sent envoys from his campaign to talk to South Vietnamese leaders to encourage them not to attend upcoming peace talks in Paris.
Nixon promised South Vietnam’s corrupt politicians that he’d give them a personally richer deal when he was President than LBJ could give them then.
The FBI had been wiretapping South Vietnam’s US agents and told LBJ about Nixon’s effort to prolong the Vietnam War. Thus, just three days before the 1968 election, President Johnson phoned the Republican Senate leader, Everett Dirksen. You can listen to the entire conversation here.
President Johnson: Some of our folks, including some of the old China lobby, are going to the Vietnamese embassy and saying please notify the [South Vietnamese] president that if he’ll hold out ’til November 2nd they could get a better deal. Now, I’m reading their hand. I don’t want to get this in the campaign. And they oughtn’t to be doin’ this, Everett. This is treason.
Sen. Dirksen: I know.
Those tapes were only released by the LBJ library in the past decade, and that’s Richard Nixon who Lyndon Johnson was accusing of treason.
At that point, for President Johnson, it was no longer about getting Humphrey elected. By then Nixon’s plan had already worked and Humphrey was being wiped out in the polls because the war was ongoing.
Instead, Johnson was desperately trying to salvage the peace talks to stop the death and carnage as soon as possible. He literally couldn’t sleep.
In a phone call to Nixon himself just before the election, LBJ begged him to stop sabotaging the peace process, noting that he was almost certainly going to win the election and inherit the war anyway. Instead, Nixon publicly said LBJ’s efforts were “in shambles.”
But South Vietnam had taken Nixon’s deal and boycotted the peace talks, the war continued, and Nixon won the White House thanks to it.
An additional twenty-two thousand American soldiers, and an additional million-plus Vietnamese died because of Nixon’s 1968 treason, and he left it to Jerry Ford to end the war and evacuate American soldiers.
Nixon was never held to account for that treason, and when the LBJ library released the tapes and documentation long after his and LBJ’s deaths it was barely noticed by the American press.
Gerald Ford, who succeeded Nixon, was never elected to the White House (he was appointed to replace VP Spiro Agnew, after Agnew was indicted for decades of taking bribes), and thus would never have been President had it not been for Richard Nixon’s treason. He pardoned Nixon.
Next up was Ronald Reagan.
During the Carter/Reagan election battle of 1980, then-President Carter had reached a deal with newly-elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr to release the fifty-two hostages held by students at the American Embassy in Tehran.
Bani-Sadr was a moderate and, as he explained in an editorial for The Christian Science Monitor, successfully ran for President of Iran that summer on the popular position of releasing the hostages:
“I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign…. I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote…. Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it [hostage-taking].”
Carter was confident that with Bani-Sadr’s help, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side ever since it began in November of 1979.
But behind Carter’s back, the Reagan campaign worked out a deal with the leader of Iran’s radical faction — Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini — to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 Presidential election. Khomeini needed spare parts for American weapons systems the Shah had purchased for Iran, and Reagan was happy to promise them.
This is the story that was finally confirmed just last year with The New York Times’ reporting that we now know how the deal was conveyed to the Ayatollah and by whom, including the lieutenant governor of Texas.
This was the second modern-day act of treason by a Republican wanting to become president.
The Reagan campaign’s secret negotiations with Khomeini — the so-called “Iran/Contra October Surprise” — sabotaged President Carter’s and Iranian President Bani-Sadr’s attempts to free the hostages.
As President Bani-Sadr told The Christian Science Monitor in March of 2013:
“After arriving in France [in 1981], I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the symbiotic relationship between Khomeinism and Reaganism.
“Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the ‘October Surprise,’ which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.”
And Reagan’s treason — just like Nixon’s treason — worked perfectly.
The Iran hostage crisis continued and torpedoed Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes. And the same day Reagan took the oath of office — to the minute, as Reagan put his hand on the bible, by way of Iran’s acknowledging the deal — the American hostages in Iran were released.
Keeping his side of the deal, Reagan began selling the Iranians weapons and spare parts in 1981, and continued until he was busted for it in 1986, producing the so-called “Iran/Contra” scandal.
But, like Nixon, Reagan was never held to account for the criminal and treasonous actions that brought him to office. Which is one reason Bush Jr. and Trump believed they could get away with anything.
After Reagan — Bush senior was elected — but like Jerry Ford — Bush was really only President because he served as Vice President under Reagan. And, of course, the naked racism of his Willie Horton ads helped boost him into office.
The criminal investigation into Iran/Contra came to a head with independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh subpoenaing President George HW Bush after having already obtained convictions for Weinberger, Ollie North and others.
And Walsh was now looking into actual criminal activity by Bush himself in support of the Iran/Contra October Surprise.
Bush’s attorney general, Bill Barr, suggested he pardon them all to kill the investigation and protect himself, which Bush did.
The screaming headline across the New York Times front page on December 25, 1992, said it all: “BUSH PARDONS 6 IN IRAN AFFAIR, AVERTING A WEINBERGER TRIAL; PROSECUTOR ASSAILS ‘COVER-UP’”
And if the October Surprise hadn’t hoodwinked voters in 1980, you can bet Bush senior would never have been elected in 1988. That’s four illegitimate Republican presidents.
Which brings us to George W. Bush, the man who was given the White House by five right-wing justices on the Supreme Court.
In the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision in 2000 that stopped the Florida recount — and thus handed George W. Bush the presidency — Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his opinion:
“The counting of votes … does in my view threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [George W. Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election.”
Apparently, denying the presidency to Al Gore, the guy who actually won the most votes in Florida and won the popular vote nationwide by over a half-million, did not constitute “irreparable harm” to Scalia or the media.
And apparently it wasn’t important that Scalia’s son worked for a law firm that was defending George W. Bush before the high court (with no Scalia recusal).
Just like it wasn’t important to mention that Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife worked on the Bush transition team — before the Supreme Court shut down the recount in Florida — and was busily accepting resumes from people who would serve in the Bush White House if her husband stopped the recount in Florida…which he did. (No Thomas recusal, either.)
More than a year after the election a consortium of newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today did their own recount of the vote in Florida — manually counting every vote in a process that took almost a year — and concluded that Al Gore did indeed win the presidency in 2000.
As the November 12th, 2001 article in The New York Times read:
“If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won.”
That little bit of info was slipped into the seventeenth paragraph of the Times story so that it would attract as little attention as possible because the 9/11 attacks had happened just weeks earlier and journalists feared that burdening Americans with the plain truth that George W. Bush actually lost the election would further hurt a nation already in crisis.
To compound the crime, Bush could only have gotten as close to Gore in the election as he did because his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, had ordered his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, to purge at least 57,000 mostly-Black voters from the state’s voter rolls just before the election. Thousands of African Americans showed up to vote and were turned away from the polls in that election in Florida that Bush “won” by fewer than 600 votes.
The simple reality is that Al Gore won Florida in 2000, won the national popular vote by a half-million, and five Republicans on the Supreme Court denied him the presidency.
Florida Governor and George W. Bush’s brother Jeb had his Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, throw thousands of African Americans off the voting rolls just before the election but then — when the votes had come in and it was clear former Vice President Al Gore had still won — she invented a brand new category of ballots for the 2000 election: “Spoiled.”
As The New York Times reported a year after the 2000 election when the consortium of newspapers they were part of finally recounted all the ballots:
“While 35,176 voters wrote in Bush’s name after punching the hole for him, 80,775 wrote in Gore’s name while punching the hole for Gore. [Florida Secretary of State] Katherine Harris decided that these were ‘spoiled’ ballots because they were both punched and written upon and ordered that none of them should be counted.
“Many were from African American districts, where older and often broken machines were distributed, causing voters to write onto their ballots so their intent would be unambiguous.”
George W. Bush “won” the election by 537 votes in Florida, because the statewide recount — which would have revealed Harris’s crime and counted the “spoiled” ballots, handing the election to Gore (who’d won the popular vote by over a half-million nationwide) — was stopped when George HW Bush appointee Clarence Thomas became the deciding vote on the Supreme Court to block the recount order from the Florida Supreme Court.
Harris’ decision to not count the 45,599 more votes for Gore than Bush was completely arbitrary: there was no legal category and no legal precedent, outside of the old Confederate states simply refusing to count the votes of Black people, to justify it.
The intent of the voters was unambiguous. And the 5 Republicans on the Supreme Court jumped in to block the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court (in violation of the 10th Amendment) just in time to prevent those “spoiled” votes from being counted, cementing Bush’s illegitimate presidency.
So, for the third time in 4 decades, Republicans took the White House under illegitimate electoral circumstances. Even President Carter was shocked by the brazenness of that one. And Jeb Bush and the GOP were never held to account for that crime against democracy.
To get re-elected in 2004, Bush used an old trick: become a “wartime president.” In 1999, when George W. Bush decided he was going to run for president in the 2000 election, his parents hired Mickey Herskowitz to write the first draft of Bush’s autobiography, A Charge To Keep.
Although Bush had gone AWOL for about a year during the Vietnam war and was thus apparently no fan of combat, he’d concluded (from watching his father’s “little 3-day war” with Iraq) that being a “wartime president” was the most consistently surefire way to get reelected and have a two-term presidency.
“I’ll tell you, he was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” Herskowitz told reporter Russ Baker in 2004.
“One of the things [Bush] said to me,” Herskowitz said, “is: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of (Kuwait) and he wasted it.
“[Bush] said, ‘If I have a chance to invade Iraq, if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.’”
Bush lying us into that war was an act of treason against America that cost 900,000 Iraqi lives, over 7,000 American lives (on the battlefield: veterans are still committing suicide daily), and over $8 trillion added to the national debt.
But it did what it was supposed to do: it got Bush re-elected in 2004.
Which brings us to this year’s election.
In 2016, Trump ally Kris Kobach and Republican Secretaries of State across the nation used Interstate Crosscheck to purge millions of legitimate voters — most people of color — from the voting rolls just in time for the Clinton/Trump election.
Meanwhile, Russian oligarchs and the Russian state, and possibly pro-Trump groups or nations in the Middle East, are alleged to have funded a widespread program to flood social media with pro-Trump, anti-Clinton messages from accounts posing as Americans, as documented by Robert Mueller’s investigation.
It was so blatant that it provoked the U.S. Intelligence Community’s assessment of their similar actions during the 2020 election (done while Trump was still president but released in March, 2021) pretty much declaring Trump a “Russian asset.”
It was a repeat, in many ways (albeit unsuccessful this time) of the Russian efforts in 2016. Then, as mentioned, Republican campaign data on the 2016 election, including which states needed a little help via phony influencers on Facebook and other social media, was not only given to Konstantin Kilimnik by Paul Manafort, but Kilimnik transferred it to Russian intelligence.
And now Trump is trying to exacerbate a crisis on our southern border and screw Ukraine in a way that will lead to mass causalities and disrupt the international order — all to give Putin what he wants — the same way Nixon used Vietnam, Reagan used Iran, and Bush used Iraq, just to win a damn election.
While we can’t rewrite history, at least we can try to prevent it from being repeated. Call your members of Congress — your representative and both your senators — and let them know if you agree that Ukraine aid and resolving the issue at the southern border shouldn’t be held hostage to Trump’s need for Putin’s help and approval.