In June of 2016, The Washington Post broke a story detailing the first public element of an operation a year in the making. The Democratic National Committee had been hacked. And Russian intelligence was the undeniable culprit.
Slowly but surely, the following year offered up a growing list of connections between the Trump administration and the government behind the attack. An ongoing FBI investigation, left largely out of the media, looked both into the hacking of committee servers, and its potential connection to the Kremlin’s involvement in President Donald Trump’s campaign. The investigation focused on the contact Russian personnel/emissaries and members of the Trump campaign had maintained throughout 2015 and 2016.
This began with Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, who had engaged in discussions of establishing a Trump real estate presence in Russia. Continued contact between the two led to conversation concerning Trump forging a relationship with Russian government officials, which would be conducted through meetings Sater attempted to organize. Other members of Trump’s circle shared similar experiences concerning Russia. Paul Manafort, campaign chairman and chief strategist, was a former lobbyist for the President of the Ukraine (and close Putin ally) Victor Yanukovych. George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor, met with a London professor to receive Russian ‘dirt’ on Hillary during the campaign. He additionally attempted to organize meetings between the campaign and Russians throughout 2016.
Meanwhile, Trump did little to prove his presidency’s innocence. He took to Twitter to vehemently defend Russia and Putin in light of scrutiny. Within a week of his tweet, he publicly denied any relation to the Kremlin, even of an innocent nature. However, Trump is cited in a 2013 interview with MSNBC detailing his cordial and personal relationship with Vladimir Putin. A glinting instance of a presidential dishonesty that should not only be damned, but also taken as a practical admittance of guilt.
As American intelligence continued to investigate Trump, Russian infiltration of American politics and the internet/media networks it relies on was made starkly apparent. Russian hackers with ties to their nation’s intelligence agency(s) were found to have participated in the distribution of propaganda promoting Trump’s campaign over social media.
By the end of the year Trump had been elected president, and both the FBI and CIA had all but confirmed Putin’s involvement in his success.
In the January of 2017, Michael Flynn, national security advisor to the president, was found to have been in contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice. When interrogated, he lied to the FBI about both his conversations with the diplomat. He pleaded guilty to the offense in December of the same year.
The time in between Flynn’s crime and confession was spent publicly outing many Trump officials’ transgressions involving Russia over the previous two years. The American public was being gradually made aware of a gaping hole in the ethical validity of the Trump administration.
The February of this year brought with it the indictment of The Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization responsible for much of the political infiltration the Trump administration has enabled. They were charged with “operation to interfere in elections and political processes”. This included the spread of propaganda, organization of rallies in the United States in support of Trump, and even suppression of the minority vote.
Not only does collusion prove Donald Trump’s lack of integrity as a person and a president, but the circumstances of his election show a blatant disregard for the role the American people have always valued playing, as citizens: The role of the active voter, the active political agent.
As the years of Donald Trump’s presidency wear on, more and more evidence of Russian involvement in his entry to the Oval Office continues to surface. Yet his position remains unchallenged at a level any higher than that of the private citizen. Maintaining the staunch negligence of the American people, are our congressional representatives.
Not only does collusion prove Donald Trump’s lack of integrity as a person and a president, but the circumstances of his election show a blatant disregard for the role the American people have always valued playing, as citizens: The role of the active voter, the active political agent. The Internet Research Agency was cited in their indictment to have deliberately manipulated social media users, particularly young Americans, into wasting their vote. They set up social media accounts like ‘Blacktavist’ which preyed on the innocent and rightful desire for social justice many young Americans possess, and directed them towards voting for Jill Stein, assuring them that their voices would be heard. This ploy to split the democratic vote is one that went undetected by many of the social media users who believed themselves to be doing the right thing.
The Trump administration is, and always has been, built on a single value—personal glorification and grandeur. This is granted to our egomaniacal leader at the cost of American voices, particularly those of minorities whose voices have always held precarious positions. The allowance and acceptance of the Kremlin’s encroachment on our political spheres by Donald Trump, so that he may gain the personal satisfaction of the ultimate American victory, is disheartening, to say the least.
Enabling a systemic corruption of American patriotism is not, and has never been, the role of a president. As members of the public, we have a duty to uphold and fulfill our freedom as a people and as a nation. As Muslims, as girls, as individuals, we have a duty to ourselves to be aware of our voices and when they are being taken from us, so that we may reclaim them. In this task, we cannot be anything less than completely and utterly relentless.