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Review of traitors: American perfidy, from Benedict Arnold to Donald J Trump | Books

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One of the most important qualities that a good journalist can have is a very low threshold of outrage. Useful and critical coverage of your topic becomes impossible once nonchalance or indifference leads you to scandal.

It became a huge problem during Donald Trump’s presidency. In the souls of far too many Washington journalists, an endless wave of scandals, crimes, indictments and various obstructions to justice has swept away this essential capacity for indignation just as the republic has it. most needed.

This is why a book like David Rothkopfs Traitor still serves a vital purpose, even after tens of other books and thousands of articles on the President’s criminal behavior. A former senior Clinton administration official and Foreign Policy editor who taught at Columbia and Georgetown, Rothkopf still has all the anger a good Trump administration columnist needs.

Trump is contemptible, he writes. But beyond its defective, even non-existent, nature, there are the short-term and lasting consequences of its actions. We have to understand them in order to reverse them, and we have to understand how easily Russia has achieved its goals to avoid such catastrophes in the future.

Our president is the literal Manchurian candidate, without the ending that made the film more of a caveat.

Russia’s success in bringing Trump to power, he writes, must be seen as perhaps the most successful international intelligence operation of modern times. Rothkopf implies that our president is the literal Manchurian candidate, without the ending that made the film more of a warning than a foreshadowing.

Drawing on the Mueller Report, various congressional inquiries, and the work of journalists still active in capitals, Rothkopf provides an important roadmap with overwhelming evidence of the Trump campaign’s collaboration with the Russian Secret Service, including 272 contacts between members of the Trump team and Russia. related people, in nearly 40 meetings, noting that at least 33 senior campaign officials and Trump’s advisers were aware of those contacts, including, of course, Trump himself.

Between the detail of Trumps’ transgressions at the beginning and the end of this compact volume, Rothkopf provides a turbulent history of many other Americans accused rightly or wrongly of treason, from Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr to Robert E Lee and Alger Hiss. He drops a lot of interesting historical tidbits, like the fact that Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born a hundred miles and less than a year apart.

He’s especially good about John Brown, the violent abolitionist who was convicted of treason against the state of Virginia. Victor Hugo called him a hero and predicted that if he was not forgiven it would certainly shake all of American democracy. But instead of a pardon, there was a quick hanging witnessed by Walt Whitman and John Wilkes Booth. And of course, Browns’ death also inspired the writing of what ultimately became the Republic battle anthem. When it was first sung by Union soldiers during the Civil War, the essential lines were the body of John Browns lying in the grave, his souls marching!

Returning to the main topic, from our modern traitor, Rothkopf is rightly harsh on Robert Mueller’s shortcomings, including his failure as special adviser to secure an in-person interview with the President and his refusal to indict the president for one of the crimes. his report describes, comprising up to 10 counts of obstruction of justice.

Mueller relied on a famous 2000 Justice Department memo that excludes impeachment of sitting presidents, but which was never argued in Federal Court.

There is no doubt in my mind that the memo is bogus, writes Rothkopf, whose point of view is shared by Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe. But what is salient here is that by taking his point of view, Mueller was released from the obligation to do what prosecutors do, which is to make a decision to indict.

Benedict Arnold persuades Major André to conceal papers, to be sent to the British to enable them to capture West Point, in his boot. Photograph: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

At the end of the book, Rothkopf lists all of Trump’s greatest failures in 10 paragraphs. Its recitation reminded me of Dayenu, the great hymn of the Passover to all the gifts of God to the Israelites, punctuated by the chorus, That would have been enough! Only in the Rothkopfs version, everything is too much and the subject is the Supreme Pagan.

It’s racism. But it’s not just racism. His sex crimes. But it’s not just sex crimes. It is the concentration camps along our southern border. But it’s not just the concentration camps. It is corruption. But it’s not just corruption.

These are the attacks on our most important allies and alliances. But it’s not just the attacks on our most important allies and alliances. It’s the systematic destruction of our environment

The author concludes that Trumpism is a disease that has infected our system and is killing it. In just 16 days, America has its last best chance to escape this scourge. Right now, there’s a good chance the election verdict will inspire several happy new verses for The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

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