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Tallahassee Democrat: Patriots must allow Russia investigation to be completed | Opinion

Monday, September 24, 2018

Even as the National Guard deployed for Hurricane Florence response and a key Supreme Court confirmation process unfolded, it’s been almost impossible to escape news of the Russia probe. GOP frustration with the investigation is mounting, which could lead to the dismissal of Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — if not before the mid-terms, then soon after.

Republican patriots should resist such actions. For the good of the country, the examination of Russia’s interference in the last elections must be allowed to reach a natural but swift conclusion.

I realize the toll such restraint will take on President Donald Trump. As a veteran, I stand behind my Commander-in-Chief. He deserves far more respect than he’s received, with unremitting, biased accusations launched at him but never landing true.

However, a president’s responsibility lies above protecting his good name. Partisan speculation about its outcomes aside, the Special Counsel continues to lead a vital inquiry. To date, 12 Russians have been indicted for election-related crimes, and every intelligence agency agrees Russia meddled. What’s more, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of Intelligence Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray — all appointed by President Trump and confirmed by the GOP-led Senate — have expressed grave concerns about future intrusions in our democracy.

Whatever malfeasance was at work in 2016, the American people have a right to know— and our leaders have an obligation to act. This is a serious national security issue. Although the 2016 attempts appear to have been preliminary and did not make a decisive difference, no foreign power can be permitted to choose our representatives. If 2016 was the warm-up, we must prepare for full-on assault in 2020, unless we want a shill for Russia, China, or a cabal of Middle Eastern countries to take up voice in Congress, or worse, win our nuclear codes.

The current investigation is part of a prudent response, making its speed all the more important. Americans of ever political persuasion expect Mr. Mueller to use the time leading up to the mid-terms to quietly conclude his efforts and compile his report. Once voters have had their say at the ballot box, the nation can quickly review what he has found and, hopefully, move on.

Focused and rapid completion of the investigation is also a matter of national security. To have the president operating under a cloud does not project U.S. strength and resolve in a manner that keeps the peace and promotes our national interests abroad. Although weakening a president may be advantageous in energizing the opposition’s base for November, it is a dangerous game to play as we face an emergent China, manage two wars in the Middle East, and advance efforts to bring North Korea to heel.

The greater loyalty must always be given to country over party. This will require sacrifices on both sides. The GOP must trust in our system of justice and not circumvent it in a well-intentioned but unnecessary effort to protect the president, lest they set a dangerous precedent of putting one man above the law.

At the same time, Democrats must overlook their differences with Mr. Trump to back America’s leader on the global stage. Anything less from either party would be a disservice to this great nation we all love.

Mark Alvarez is a military veteran and Tallahassee resident.

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