Saturday, March 4, 2017

Michael Flynn followed by Jeff Sessions

March 4, 2017

By Saeed Qureshi

It is a soothing news that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to “step aside from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States”. He made this announcement at a hastily called news conference held at the Justice Department today.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under intense scrutiny after reports surfaced that he had contacts with Russian government officials during the 2016 Presidential election.

Session’s main problem is that he is alleged to have met with Russian senior officials and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in United States during the 2016 elections. It is basically an issue of ethics, truthfulness and integrity that in the first instance why Sessions kept this meeting secret.

Secondly in response to the questions by the press reporters and the other competent authorities, he denied of having any meetings with the Russian diplomats. Then he further changed his stance by pleading that these were harmless contacts and that the security of United States was not compromised during those backdoor parleys.

The relevant questions that come to a layman’s mind are the following:

Did he meet the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential elections?

When did he meet?

why did he meet him?

What was discussed?

Has that meeting impacted upon the national interest of United States or the 2016 elections?

Why did he hide earlier that he didn’t meet the Russian ambassador until it was disclosed by the Washington Post?

What can be the implications for him for hiding a high-level meeting with the ambassador of an enemy country and later acknowledging it when it came out?

Meeting clandestinely, with Russians and all the more with diplomats raises many questions as Russia is not a friend or strategic ally of United States. This event also has embarrassed the new administration under president Donlad Trump. Already Trump administration is faced with a host of crises. President’s tongue lashing has been very severe and hard against the media as well the judiciary. The media plays its role objectively, irrespective whether the people in the power corridors were pleased or annoyed.

The American press and for that matter media in any society plays the vital role in highlighting the achievements and drawbacks of the state institutions. Therefore, it acts as a watchdog to safeguard the democratic and constitutional fabric of the society as well as conduct of the rulers, state employees and state institutions.

President Trump’s denunciation of the media as “dishonest” and “enemy of the people” are highly toxic and overly distasteful verdicts about the press and the journalists.

Session’s controversy was preceded by another similar incident involving Trump’s National Security Advisor Retired Army Lieutenant General, Michael T. Flynn. Flynn had to resign for misleading key government’s top officials, media and the people about the nature of his telecommunication contacts with the Russian diplomats. Flynn remained as the National Security Advisor just for 24 days which is the shortest in the history of the office.

Flynn has been replaced by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser. President made this announcement today at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had been interviewing candidates to replace Flynn.   

While president Trump’s policy announcements, promulgated through the executive orders have either remained unfulfilled or viewed as impracticable, the issue of secret meetings of the two top ranking members of his cabinet is exceedingly serious and fraught with dire fallout.  It might turn to be an “Achilles Heel” for the present administration in case the charge is proved that somehow Russia was involved in the hacking of the 2016 elections in support of Donlad Trump and against his democratic rival Madam Hillary Clinton.

The American press both print and Media have joined hands in painting a totally negative image and unsuitable temperament of Trump as the president of the United States of America. He is under constant scathing censure of the press except Fox Television Channel which favors a radical right leaning administration including the incumbent one, no matter how dysfunctional those could be.

It ought to be an utmost and crucial urgency for president Donald Trump and his administration as well as the retinue of advisors and cabinet members to reset their sails of governance. Instead of embarking upon the path of belligerency and confrontation and vitriolic rebuttals, they should be moderate, sober and accommodating and rather discrete in lowering and softening their headstrong outbursts and uncalled-for rebukes and retaliations.

American Press has seldom been against or critical of any government or individuals unless there are valid reasons and grounds for that. If a leader calls the media as “dishonest” and “enemy of the people”, then he or she cannot expect bouquets of flowers in return.

The press can be rebuked or contradicted when there is a need to correct news reports or editorials or opinion columns. Yet to characterize media and journalists as an assemblage of dishonest people is certainly neither wise nor factual. It is the right and role of the press to criticize and analyze what they believe was right or wrong for the people and the country. But the stigmas of enmity and dishonesty is exceedingly lethal and insidious insinuation.

As far the Russian involvement in manipulating the 2016 American presidential elections is concerned, it would be indeed in the best national interest as well as for the clearance of Trump administration from this blame is to order a high-level probe.  That would help clear the mystery of the backdoor role of the Russians in connivance with the Trump and his associates in winning the 2016 elections. Tagged with this is also the issue of role of the American individuals or groups involved in that yet to be resolved rigmarole.  

The details of the alleged Russian involvement in American elections and even president Trump’s personal links with Russian are yet to become public and be clarified. But if the insinuation proves right then it could be quite embarrassing for the incumbent administration of United States and personally for president Donald Trump

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