America’s Russia Question: Face Up to the Crisis in Democratic Politics

Ordeals that threaten American democracy just keep erupting. This series of events make up the “Russia question.”

A report summarizing the results of a two-year investigation into the Russia question has been released. It confirms that Russia interfered in the previous presidential election, and examines contribution to Donald Trump’s campaign.

There was no evidence of conspiracy between the campaign and Russia. However, it sets aside the question of whether Trump illegally obstructed the investigation. That judgment has been left to Congress.

Congress is facing a situation where it should move beyond party and recognize the significance of the separation of powers. Can Congress monitor the president and fulfill its responsibility to protect against mischief? If Congress fails to have a discussion that U.S. citizens can agree with, it will further deepen a lack of faith in politics.

Information about repeated misuse of presidential power emerges from the report. It is clear that Trump put pressure on the investigation and acted coercively with respect to the investigation staff so he could avoid suspicion.

Trump will not be prosecuted due to the limits set by Justice Department policy which provides that a sitting president cannot be indicted pursuant to the department’s constitutional analysis and the difficulty of proving the president’s intent.

By replacing the FBI director and attorney general when they refused his requests related to the investigation, Trump issued a presidential challenge to administrative ethics. Even if Trump cannot be prosecuted, it is obvious that his political responsibility should be thoroughly investigated.

Unfortunately, the reactions of the two parties in Congress are totally different. While the opposition Democratic Party is emphasizing the president’s malfeasance, the ruling Republican Party is trying to pull a curtain over the matter to appease the president.

From the beginning, it could be said that this “Russia question” has exposed a longstanding illness in American politics, namely the divisive policy of putting partisan interests and priorities above everything else.

Shutting down the government over a failure to resolve the federal budget was a drag on the life of citizens and on the economy. This also occurred under the the Obama, when political malfunction was a factor in the downgrade of American debt.

The “Russia question” that originated with the presidential election and gave birth to the Trump phenomenon is an extension of this ugly political conflict.

A campaign that resorted to any means available to pound its opponents and win the election. A president that scurries to protect himself even when meddling by a foreign intelligence agency is uncovered. And above all, a party that only sees the problem in terms of its partisan interests …

Realistically speaking, the outlook for a congressional inquiry into the truth is dark. Both parties will likely manipulate the handling of the issue as it scrutinizes public opinion ahead of next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

When will the American political sector face up to the danger posed to American politics by its endless squabbling? The international community gazes at the self-righteous “America First” diplomacy and the division and confrontation in American domestic politics through sad eyes.

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