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The American Way on Trial

November 1, 2017
Plain English Version

Richard Gates (l.) and Paul Manafort, charged with money laundering and failure to register as foreign agents. Photo credit: AP Top News

It is not hard to find fault elsewhere. China is America’s competitor. It wants to be the biggest player in the world economy. It wants to become a powerful nation. How is it going about doing this? It is placing power in the hands of one man, Xi Jinping. That is a dictatorship. There is no free press and no free elections. There is no right to campaign for change.

Then there is America. Today, it is about as contentious as a nation can be. There is no doubt that President Donald Trump wants to silence his critics. But his weapon of choice is Twitter. He sends out short sentences to belittle his foes.

That is the big difference between China and America.

This week the U.S. showed how the rule of law works. Robert Mueller is a man the president would like to remove from his job. He is Special Counsel to the U.S. Department of Justice. He has accused some of Trump’s close advisors of breaking the law. He is investigating links between Russia and America during the 2016 campaign for president.

Trump cannot stop Mueller. Except by firing him. Most politicians, even those in his party, would condemn him if he were to do that. Trump would lose in the court of public opinion. So firing Mueller is not likely. That leaves Mueller in charge.

Trump insists he had nothing to do with the Russians during the campaign. No one has said that he did. But the same may not be true of the people who ran candidate Trump’s campaign. Already, one campaign volunteer has come forward. He admits he tried to work with Russia to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Even the men accused of crimes are not accused of working with Russia to defeat Mrs. Clinton. The Special Counsel has charged them with ‘money laundering.’ This involves taking money from a foreign government (in this case Ukraine) and not reporting it. He also accused them of being ‘foreign agents.’ This means not registering with the U.S. as working for a foreign government (Ukraine.)

One issue is that the president of Ukraine was a close ally of President Putin of Russia. The accused were getting money from the Ukraine government account. This happened while they were working for Donald Trump’s campaign.

Big investigations into wrongdoing often begin with bringing charges that may be criminal. The accused, facing jail, may be willing to talk about other things. These might include Russian meddling in the U.S. campaign.

It is not pretty to watch. Some call it betraying others to save your self. But compared to one-man rule in Turkey, Russia, China, and North Korea, it is a beautiful thing.

Resource: The New York Times October 30, 2017

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