Secretary Clinton landed many zingers during the first debate, but perhaps the most memorable exchange came when she raised the omnipresent issue of Trump’s refusal to hand over his taxes.
“I have no reason to believe that he's ever going to release his tax returns, because there's something he's hiding. And we'll guess. We'll keep guessing at what it might be that he's hiding. But I think the question is, were he ever to get near the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to?”
There’s a clear, insidious answer. Throughout this election, Trump has repeatedly cast himself as an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His relationship with the Russian government is unconventional, to say the least.
For instance, consider his choice of staffers. Paul Manafort worked for Viktor Yanukovych’s campaign in Ukraine between 2004 and 2010. Yanukovych ended his tenure in Ukraine wanted for mass murder, and Manafort went home to eventually work for Trump. However, the controversies blanketing Manafort ended his run with the GOP frontrunner once it was revealed he was secretly taking millions of dollars in off-the-book payments from pro-Russia political groups.
This week, Carter Page stepped down as Trump’s foreign policy advisor under similar circumstances. As a foreign policy advisor, one should be free of any perceived biases. Nobody must have relayed the message to the Trump campaign, as Page has been intimately involved with Russian energy and politics since the early 2000s. Page lived in Moscow, working in the energy sector and brokering deals with Russia’s state-run energy giant, Gazprom. Putin personally owns 4.5% of Gazprom, while the Russian government he helms owns 50% of it. Carter Page has his own wealth invested in Gazprom and attends the annual investor meetings.
Before Page’s resignation on Monday, Yahoo reported that US intelligence officers were “looking into” Page’s connections in Moscow after he flew there shortly before the RNC convention in Cleveland.
The Washington Post reports that while in Russia, Page met with some suspicious friends, although he has denied these allegations:
“The US government had received intelligence reports that Page met with Igor Sechin, a friend of Vladimir Putin who runs Russian oil giant Rosneft, and Igor Diveykin, a high–ranking Russian intelligence official.”
Secret meetings aside, Page gave a speech while in Moscow that casts a shadow over Trump’s energy policy:
“In exchange for sanctions relief, Page said, American companies might be invited to partner with Russian firms to exploit Russia’s oil and gas fields.”
This, apparently, prompted a response from US Intelligence officers. “It’s on our radar screen,” said one official to Yahoo, regarding about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. Page resigned shortly after.
When Trump’s top advisors have this much invested in foreign oil conglomerates, is it any surprise that Trump isn’t interested in clean energy? And since Trump is steadfast in his decision to be the first Presidential candidate since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his taxes, what exactly are his personal interests?
While Page was stepping down, Clinton was embracing renewable energy at Hofstra University. Clean and renewable energy came up within minutes of her opening remarks. Later on, she doubled down with this:
Clinton: Take clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.
Trump: I did not. I did not. I do not say that.
Clinton: I think science is real.
Trump: I do not say that.
Imma let you finish but —
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2014
Clinton is absolutely right. There will be a clean energy superpower, and if we play our cards right, we’re the first in line.
Although Trump lamented the disintegration of the automotive industry along the Rust Belt, the traditional gas-guzzling motor industry isn’t coming back. Oil is on its last legs — according to BP, we have 52 years of global supplies left. The future will rely on homegrown renewable energy that doesn’t require America’s dependence on unstable regions (that also fund terrorist groups like ISIL) or engage in destructive environmental practices. The future, as Clinton said, is clean, renewable energy that is manufactured in America and provides jobs for Americans.
Hypothetically speaking, if Trump did have a “special relationship” with Putin, the last thing Putin wants to see is a clean energy superpower — especially if it’s American. 63% of Russia’s exports are oil and gas. China, by the way, is one of Gazprom’s biggest customers. China recently loaned Gazprom $2.8 billion loan from Bank of China to secure the exportation of oil through Siberia.
Putin has made his thoughts on alternative energy sources abundantly clear. He favors nuclear power over renewables, stating the following:
“Nuclear power generation is the only available alternative to oil and gas today. These projects exist. They are viable alternatives. All other ideas are just for fun.”
It’s almost as if it were spoken by Trump himself.
Putin once casually remarked over dinner that he could "destroy America in half an hour or less." State-controlled Russian TV is flooded with anti-American propaganda. According to Trump, Putin referred to our first African-American President as the “n-word”, which Trump seemed to have no problem with. During the same speech, Trump also invited Putin to hack into government servers to retrieve Hillary’s emails.
Russia has already has exerted far too much power in this election. Putin’s potential influence on a Trump administration cannot be ignored. And while Trump’s tax returns are filed under lock and key, we simply do not know whose interests he is protecting. But it’s unlikely to be those of the American people.