You don't require a deerstalker cap, a magnifying glass and a London address of 221B Baker Street to solve the Mystery of the Corrupted Tycoon. All you need do is sit back and watch as the evidence piles up. Even Dr. Watson could connect these dots.
It started with Donald Trump's unexplainable bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin — former KGB agent, butcher of Chechnya and Aleppo, and brutal invader of Georgia, the Crimea and Ukraine.
Concerns grew when a Trump representative watered down the GOP platform from "providing lethal defensive weapons" to the Ukraine to providing "appropriate assistance." Then Trump picked some real Russophiles as advisers, including retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Kathleen McFarland and Paul Manafort.
Next, there's Trump's secretary of state designee and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been steadily lobbying against the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia after its Ukraine invasion. That's because he wants to exercise drilling rights to rich offshore reserves in the Arctic and Black seas. Tellingly, Putin awarded him Russia's Order of Friendship in 2013.
Now we come to the infamous hacking of emails of organizations affiliated with Hillary Clinton's election campaign, including the Democratic National Committee. The stolen documents were given to WikiLeaks, which released only those that damaged the Democrats and benefited Trump. When U.S. security agencies traced the hacking to the highest levels of the Kremlin, Trump refused to believe them. Only lately has he accepted that Russia was involved, but he also wants to implicate China and other parties, though there's absolutely no evidence.
Why did Putin clearly prefer Trump to Clinton? Was it because he saw Trump as more malleable than her regarding the lifting of sanctions? Why hasn't Trump released his income tax returns? Did Putin's hackers also get into the IRS data base and steal these returns, and is Trump being blackmailed? Would the returns reveal that he has outstanding loans from Russian oligarchs? Have they been laundering their ill-gotten gains by buying Trump real estate? Does this blackmail include compromising sex tapes from Trump's visits to Moscow, as detailed in a still-unproven report published by BuzzFeed.
There has been steady contact between the Kremlin's operatives and Trump's team since well before the election. President Obama dismissed Russian diplomats and closed down some of their alleged spy bases in retaliation for interfering in our election on Dec. 29. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, had phone conversations with Russia's ambassador to Washington on Dec. 28 and 29. Why? The Logan Act forbids unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments with which we have disputes to prevent the undermining of official government positions.
It's elementary, my dear reader. Trump has become the first president-elect to skate on the thin ice of treason. More proof? Instead of supporting the president on the recent sanctions, Trump sided with Putin, who announced he wouldn't retaliate. That's because he'd rather wait for the Trump administration to begin. Trump then tweeted, "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!"
The Constitution says treason consists of "adhering to their (i.e., those of the United States) enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Russia has systematically subverted liberal democracies throughout the world, destabilized NATO and has now attacked the U.S. election process in what Sen. John McCain called "an act of war." Russia's ultimate goal is to sow discord in the U.S. and roll back all the freedoms and reforms that have blossomed in Europe since 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. If that doesn't define an enemy to the principles and security of the U.S., what does?
This is not left-wing paranoia, fake news or sour grapes about the election. There is a clear trail of gobsmacking evidence that this White House has been hijacked by the Russians and a Putin puppet will be putting his hand on the Bible today to become our 45th president.
If all of these issues are not thoroughly investigated and Trump is not stopped, watch for him to roll back the sanctions on Russia in the next few months. We'll then know for sure that America has made a terrible mistake, and buyer's remorse won't help. In the interim, there's not much we can do but watch, wait and continue to speak out. I am afraid things will get a lot worse before this long night is over.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.