Observing President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, which lawyers and historians might ultimately describe as an obstruction of justice and impeachable offense, patriotic Republicans and Democrats must ask a critical question.
Does Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who is waging a cyberwar of aggression against American and European democracy, possess damaging information about President Trump that could destroy his presidency and lead to his removal from office if it is leaked or disclosed by Putin?
If Putin does possess such negative information about Trump, he could weaponize this tool of information warfare against America in multiple ways.
First, Putin could blackmail Trump, threatening the president that if he does not submit to Russia on security issues he would leak or disclose information that would be politically catastrophic for Trump.
Second, Putin could initiate aggressive actions against America or another democracy, and if Trump responded he could leak the negative information in the midst of a major crisis that Putin himself creates, confident he has this politically lethal infowar weapon in his cyberwar arsenal.
I am not claiming today that Putin has negative information against Trump that would be so devastating it would destroy his presidency and lead to his removal from office if disclosed.
I am urgently warning that if Putin does possess incriminating information about Trump, which is certainly possible, it would pose a clear and present danger to American and Western security. Congressional investigating committees and the FBI must learn with 100 percent certainty whether or not the president and the nation are vulnerable to such a grave and extreme danger.
Somewhere in Moscow, Putin possesses a Russian intelligence dossier listing every contact between agents of Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign and Trump administration.
Putin knows all of the answers to questions under investigation by the FBI and Congress. If there was collusion or coordination between anyone associated with the Trump campaign and Russia, Putin knows exactly who is implicated, exactly what they did and exactly how to leak such information if it serves his purposes.
Putin knows whether or not there any Russian-related loans, business or other financial arrangements between Trump or Trump associates and Russian entities that could be politically devastating if publicly disclosed, provide blackmail material to threaten disclosure, or give Putin financial power over Trump or his associates during an international crisis.
American counterintelligence officials know that Russia employs spies to lure targets into sexually and financially compromising positions and employs cyberwar weapons for potential use against Republicans as well as Democrats. Could Putin have gained access to Trump’s undisclosed tax returns or other negative material he could weaponize against Trump or Republicans as well as Democrats?
Trump fired Comey, who was investigating Russian attempts to attack our democracy and elect him president, on the advice of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE, who violated his recusal from the Russian investigation. Trump fired former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who warned the White House that Trump’s first national security adviser was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, and fired Preet Bharara, the widely respected former U.S. attorney in New York, while he was investigating Russian cyberwar against America.
Trump has deliberately created a constitutional crisis with extreme and aggressive actions against one leading investigator after another designed to distract, disrupt, impede and obstruct every major investigation of Russian attacks against American democracy. Trump’s actions have been so reckless, frenetic and egregious that he acts like a man who is conscious of his own guilt and desperate to obstruct thorough investigations and avoid devastating disclosures.
Former U.S. Attorney Bharara, who was praised by Trump before he was fired by the president, should be named as special prosecutor for the Justice Department or special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Every American must know that no hostile power will be able to undermine American democracy or destroy an American president by weaponizing dark-side information kept secret from our people by coverups.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.