News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Let’s start with the truth

Letters to the Editor that are filled with “alt-facts” are dismaying. Before we can have productive discussions about policy, we must agree on the facts. But that is difficult when a right-wing media machine churns out broadly-shared falsehoods.

From Jeff Mackey’s LTE, December 9 — Assertion: “…[Democrats] concocted the biggest failed hoax in history with a Russian connection that in fact was based on a fake dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.”

Facts: Department of Justice Inspector General Horowitz concluded: “…the FBI opened Operation Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, just days after its receipt of information from a Friendly Foreign Government (FFG) reporting that, in May 2016, during a meeting with the FFG, then Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopolous suggested that the Trump team ‘had received some sort of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).’” It was this information that sparked the FBI investigation, not the Steele dossier.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Rubio, found Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, had a long-standing relationship with Russian intelligence agent Kilimnik, whom Manafort provided with internal polling data and campaign strategy. The Senate report stated: “Manafort worked with Kilimnik starting in 2016 on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.”

Those are the facts and they are damning. Attorney General Barr’s efforts to deceive the public with his distorted “summary” of the Mueller Report notwithstanding, it, Horowitz’ report, and the Senate report together paint a detailed picture of the “grave counterintelligence threat.” The FBI’s decision to launch an investigation was justified.

Assertion: “…the drumm-ed-up impeachment initiated behind closed doors … again dragged our nation thru months of invented testimony with not one witness claiming to have actual evidence of laws broken or specific violations of the Constitution.”

Facts: Investigative depositions frequently happen behind closed doors. Republicans on the relevant House committees attended and participated in these depositions, despite their disingenuous complaints.

Trump pressured Ukrainian President Zelensky to “investigate” Joe Biden, the opponent Trump most feared running against, by withholding an important meeting and crucial defense support. (Withholding defense support was illegal because it had already been approved by Congress.) Ambassador Sondland testified he worked with Trump’s attorney Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the President’s “express direction.” Diplomat Holmes testified that he heard Trump discussing the Biden “investigation” during a call between Trump and Sondland.

Other brave witnesses, like Ambassador Yovanovitch and Lt.

Col.

Vindman, testified despite fears for their personal safety and careers due to a vengeful Trump.

Both the Russia investigation and the impeachment trial starkly revealed the dire national security threat Trump poses because he elevates his personal interests above the Constitution he swore to preserve, protect, and defend.

Trump has now combined subversion of our national security with attacks on our elections, the crown jewel of our democracy.

But our institutions have held.

The votes were counted and recounted.

Dozens of lawsuits were resolved, none validating any of the alleged voting fraud.

The Supreme Court, with three Trump-appointed justices, twice sternly rebuffed Trump’s baseless claims.

Third Circuit Trump-appointee Judge Bibas wrote: “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy.

Charges of unfairness are serious.

But calling an election unfair does not make it so.

Charges require specific allegations and then proof.

We have neither here.

Another Trump appointee, Judge Ludwig, held: “A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred…This court allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits.

In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ It has been.”

This is the truth, not the “alt-facts” of those who urge Nugget readers to rely on disreputable news outlets. I welcome a civil discussion about where we can go from here to heal our country’s divisions. #TruthMatters and #FactsMatter. We must agree on them before we can undertake that vital task.

 

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