Tuesday, August 09, 2016

TOP STORY >> Trump seen as quitting

Leader executive editor

Prominent Republicans are pressing Donald Trump to abandon his run for the presidency and let Michael Pence, his running mate, take over the top spot as the GOP standard bearer falls further behind Hillary Clinton with just 90 days to go till the election.

Trump has dropped at least 10 points in the polls since the party conventions as most Americans, including 50 Republican national-security experts, question his qualifications to lead our nation.

On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced she will not endorse Trump. She joins dozens of other Republican leaders, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who oppose their party’s nominee.

Trump has fallen so far behind, the authoritative 538 polling website gives Hillary Clinton an 83 percent chance of victory — and he is seen as dragging down Senate and House candidates in the fall.

But beyond the disastrous polling for Trump, knowledgeable Republicans realize he is unfit to serve because of his temperament, ignorance of the issues, questionable business dealings, not to mention his close ties to the Kremlin and the Russian criminal underworld.

Some 50 prominent former national security experts who served under both Presidents Bush issued a warning Monday that electing Trump would put our nation at risk. They said “he would be the most reckless president in American history.”

The signers, who include Michael V. Hayden, former director of the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, and John D. Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state, said Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president. Their letter said he “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Other signatories include Robert B. Zoellick, another former deputy secretary of state, United States trade representative and president of the World Bank. Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, two former secretaries of Homeland Security, also signed the statement.

The signatories say Trump has “demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding” of the nation’s “vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances and the democratic values….Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.”

They said they could not vote for Trump, although some of them now support Clinton. One of the signers told The New York Times they all “agree Trump is not qualified and would be dangerous.”

These national-security experts, who know Trump is the most pro-Russian candidate since the Second World War, were alarmed when he asked the Russians to hack Clinton’s emails. Trump’s close ties to Vladimir Putin raises suspicions not only among these experts but all Americans who remember the Cold War.

“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter continued. “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander in chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Talk about out of control: On Tuesday, Trump told his followers that if Clinton wins and picks her own judges, “Nothing you can do, folks.”

The crowd booed. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is,” the presidential candidate said, hinting that sometimes you have to choose between ballots and bullets. It’s the kind of threat Putin would understand.

Former CIA Director Michael Morell, who last week endorsed Clinton, calls Trump an “unwitting agent” of Russia, not only because Trump and Putin have formed a mutual-admiration society, but also because Trump’s advisers are close to the Kremlin and have made millions off business investments and consulting in eastern Europe.

This Russian connection may be why Trump won’t release his tax returns.

Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, a national-security adviser to Trump, sat with Putin at an anniversary dinner for Russia Today, a crude propaganda TV channel run by the Kremlin.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, has been a paid adviser to tyrants around the world, including former Ukrainian dictator Victor Yanukovich, who fled to Russia after he was overthrown in 2002; Carter Page, Trump’s foreign-policy adviser, is a major investor in Gazprom, the Russian energy giant. Frank Mermoud is another adviser with business interests in Ukraine and Russia.

Trump’s advisers deleted a reference in the Republican platform that called for arming Ukraine against Russian aggression. Trump thinks Putin has no ambitions toward Ukraine, unaware that Russia grabbed Crimea that was once part of Ukraine.

Trump can read the polls and could drop out at any time, unless the Kremlin tells their unwitting agent to stay the course.