Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States of America has been in office for six months. So far his presidency has been enmeshed in a tortuous struggle to prove that Russia did not meddle in the last November's presidential elections . And I fear that this struggle may determine his entire presidency unless something gives. It is either he finally accepts the current overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered with the elections or his continued effort to deny reality will mare his presidency. Today in America, Russia has become the most mentioned word as it seems to dominate most political discussions.
  There are three issues. One has been established by the seven intelligence agencies in the United States and that is, that Russia interfered in America's democratic process last year. Everybody has accepted this fact unequivocally except President Donald Trump who is still ambivalent:"It could be Russia, it could be other countries, nobody knows for sure". The second issue which is in contention is: Did Trump campaign team collude with the Russians? That was what former Director James Comey of the FBI was trying to establish. But the President did not want that and when his attempt to pressurize Comey to abandon the quest failed, he sacked Comey.
But due to pressure from the Congress and the American Public, an independent Counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was hired by the Justice department to continue the investigation. The third issue that needs determination is : Did Russia's intervention help Trump to become President?
  Now because Mr Trump thinks that if he accepts unequivocally that Russia intervened, that could eventually lead to resolving the third issue in the affirmative, that Russia helped him win the election, he has done all he could to stop every inquiry on the matter. Yet day after day, new revelations drawing all to the ultimate conclusion appear, as slides of an onion bulb. Virtually all the members of his Campaign team have been implicated one way or the other in what some call the Russia gate scandal. And still the denials continue and every news that reports any of the unfolding revelation is regarded as 'fake news'.
  Meanwhile Russia gate is taking its toll. First to fall was General Mike Flynn, the National Security Adviser. He lied that he did not meet with the Russians. When it became increasingly apparent that Flynn lied to everybody( including Vice- President Mike Pence?), he was sacrificed. Next is Attorney General -Jeff Sessions who when it was proved that he met with the Russians, rather than resign like Flynn, opted to recuse himself from the Russian investigations started by Comey. Eventually he supported the sacking of Comey, hoping like his boss that it would 'remove the heat' from the "Russia fever".But it did not. Last week as I was in Washington I was shocked to hear President Trump lampooning Jeff Sessions for rescuing himself from the Russian probe. He in effect was regretting appointing Sessions the Attorney-General. Though Sessions has put up 'bold face', absorbing the insult and vote of no confidence from his boss, I want to put my bet that Sessions is on his way out. He is definitely the second game in this hunt.
  Recently the peel got closer to the heart of the onion, when on the promptings of the Washington Post, Donald Trump Jnr, who earlier denied the story that he held a meeting with Russian government agents at the Trump Tower in New York last year, finally accepted he met with the Russians and their agents, but said the meeting discussed adoptions. Soon after he released the email trail between him and the Russian agent which clearly stated that the meeting was called to receive unfavorable information on Hilary Clinton as part of the Russian government's support for Donald Trump's election.Hell broke loose and the noose tightened around President Trump regarding Russia's meddling in the 2016 elections. Some one called it Treason! Now all the other senior members of the Trump campaign, some who are currently  occupying official positions in the White House like Jared Kushner, Manifort, Steve Bannon are under investigation by both houses of the Congress and the special counsel. I predict that many more will become victims, one way or the other.
  Before this very material development, President Trump attended a G-20 meeting in Germany and had such a chummy interaction with Vladimir Putin, president of the Republic of Russia. First he had over two hours meeting with him after which he and his Russian Friend came out with different recollections of what happened. Most Americans had expected that Trump would use the opportunity to slam Putin for interfering in the American elections. But he did not. In my mind, he just made a joke with Putin like: ' Mr Putin, the democrats and the fake news media in America said that you interfered in the elections, did you?' To which Mr Putin would have said: " My friend Mr Trump, you and I know what happened. Do not mind the fake media, especially CNN". Everybody laughed and went on to other friendly matters. At the end, to satisfy the American audience , Trump's team gave the impression that Trump pushed Putin very hard and that Putin continued to deny, whereas Putin and his team reported that they denied the allegation to the satisfaction of President Trump. Indeed the 'love' between Trump & Putin was so hot, that Melania ( Trumps'wife) had problem stopping their lively interaction, so that they could go for dinner and when eventually they went to the dinner, Mr Trump left his seat and walked over to Mr Putin and they spent nearly another hour( or elastic 15-minutes) trying to finish their matters, which according to Trump,again bordered on 'Adoption'( an euphemism for 'Sanctions').This was done in the full glare of the other global leaders especially the Europeans who were amazed at this open display of 'love' between Trump & Putin.Once again, it took pressure to accept that this unusual meeting held.
  For me there is really nothing wrong with Trump liking Putin or both of them sharing mutual admiration and respect for each other. As a pacifist myself, I will support any move that will bring Russia and America together. If America and Russia become friends,I believe that the World would be a more peaceful place. The arms race will decline significantly and it would be easier to reign in such trouble makers as Assad of Syria, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey,  Hassan Rouhani of Iran and the kim Jong-un (bom boy) of North Korea. But the way things are going,it is looking like Putin & Trump have built their friendship on a fraudulent basis. They seem to be acting as "partners in crime" and not as true friends who mean well for the world. Otherwise why are they in denial of what seems obvious. During the campaigns last year, I heard Trump invite the Russians on television to help with Hilary Clinton emails. And if they did, why the denial? Well as they say "guilty conscience fears accusation".Yesterday, I departed the US  for Nigeria after visiting some historic sites at St Simons Island's Dunbar Creek in South Georgia called "Igbo(Eboe) Landing"where some 13 Igbo slaves who had been shipped among st others from Nigeria, preferred to drown themselves rather than accept a life of slavery, way back in May 1803. Rather than submit to an existence of bondage and forced labour at the hands of another, these products of proud Igbo heritage made a staggering poignant Declaration of Independence with their very lives! As I reflected on this sacrifice which embodies the distinctly Igbo traits of independence and self-determination, I learnt that a third guy had fallen in this Russian Roulette -Sean Spicer, the White House Press secretary who has had to play the most unenviable role of not only defending the indefensible but who has had the painful job of being contradicted so very often by the same indefensible principal.  Many more will fall in this effort by Trump to lead America to Russia.
 How will this end? Who knows? But the lessons of history are replete.
Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR 


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