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In the 2016 presidential election, West Virginia backed Donald Trump by 67.9% and in 2020 it was 68.6%, according to figures from the New York Times. Recent reporting sheds light on why two-thirds backing for Trump from the voting populace of West Virginia will go down as a massive historical blunder and embarrassment.

Exclusive reporting from The Guardian newspaper published July 15 titled “Kremlin Papers Appear to Show Putin’s Plot to Put Trump in White House” was quite revealing. Documents recovered from the Kremlin, which The Guardian ran by independent experts who said the documents appear genuine, and which are understood to have been on the radar of U.S. intelligence for some months, provide evidence that Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret operation to support Donald Trump in the 2016 election at a closed session of Russia’s national security council.

According to The Guardian, “There is a brief psychological assessment of Trump, who is described as an ‘impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex.’ There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat, or potentially compromising material, on the future president, collected — the document says — from Trump’s earlier ‘non-official visits to Russian Federation territory.’ The paper refers to ‘certain events’ that happened during Trump’s trips to Moscow. Security council members are invited to find details in appendix five, at paragraph five, the document states. It is unclear what the appendix contains. ‘It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of US president,’ the paper says.”

That’s not all. The Guardian coverage continues, “Moscow would gain most from a Republican victory,” the paper states. This could lead to a “social explosion” that would in turn weaken the U.S. President, it says. There were international benefits from a Trump win, it stresses. Putin would be able in clandestine fashion to dominate any U.S.-Russia bilateral talks, to deconstruct the White House’s negotiating position, and to pursue bold foreign policy initiatives on Russia’s behalf, it says.

We’ve been hearing for five years from the right that this Russia-Trump thing was just a conspiracy contrived by Democrats and the Clinton campaign, but the proof is in the pudding. Time will tell us more about this Kremlin leak, but there’s still more. The Guardian also published a report July 14 titled “Top US General Warned of ‘Reichstag moment’ in Trump’s Turbulent Last Days.” Originally reported by New York Magazine, excerpts from a forthcoming book titled “I Alone Can Fix This,” by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, quote Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, telling aides that the U.S. is facing a “Reichstag moment” because Donald Trump was preaching “the gospel of the Führer.”

A “Reichstag moment” refers to a fire at the German parliament which the Nazis used to consolidate their authoritarian rule in 1933, to quote The Guardian. The Guardian stated that, “Milley is reported to have believed long before the Capitol attack that ‘Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military.’”

Mind you, this is not a left-wing podcast host or a Democratic Party operative saying this; this is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, top brass in the U.S. military.

There’s even more. In a book that’s just been released by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election,” former Trump Chief of Staff and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly was reportedly “stunned” when Donald Trump, on a trip to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, reportedly remarked to the retired general, “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

According to coverage in The Guardian, “Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly ‘reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict’ and ‘connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities.’” The Guardian’s coverage continues, “But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly ‘told the president he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred,’ emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.”

Now, I’m not a registered Democrat. I am a democratic socialist and the only party-like organization I am a member of (though it is not a political party, and I am registered nonpartisan) is the Democratic Socialists of America. I’ve been derogatorily accused of being a communist and my problems with U.S. policy in the Cold War and with red scares that came before (and since) are myriad.

But I certainly don’t support Soviets and I certainly do support the heroes who died in WWII fighting fascists. Apparently Donald Trump doesn’t feel the same. This is something the two-thirds of voting West Virginians who have supported him (many of whom continue to support the idea of a 2024 Trump run) should think about carefully.

Eric Engle resides in Parkersburg.

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