Progressive Congressman Defends Father’s Soviet Ties
By Cliff Kincaid on June 5, 2017
After delivering a powerful anti-Russian speech at Saturday’s March for Truth in Washington, D.C., the “effective progressive” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) threatened this reporter, saying, “if you talk about my father again you’ve got a real problem.”
Clearly upset about a line of questioning that exposed his hypocritical anti-Russian stance, Raskin said, “Stop harassing me.”
The exchange, captured on tape, followed questions about his father’s involvement in arranging conferences with Soviet officials during the Cold War, for the purpose of undermining then-President Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist policies. His father was Marcus Raskin, a former Kennedy administration official who was a founder of the Marxist Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
Regarding Trump and the Russians, however, Raskin has Tweeted, “We need an independent commission to scrutinize Trump’s pervasive staff infection.” It was a clever line he repeated in his speech.
Described by the liberal press as an “open humanist” with atheistic beliefs, Rep. Raskin seemed to threaten this writer with some kind of undefined action and asserted, “I don’t know who you are, but you’re deranged.” Walking away in disgust when I further questioned his father’s involvement with Soviet officials, he told me, “Go work for Donald Trump.”
My press credentials were hanging around my neck where he could see them.
A vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Raskin refused to engage in any extended substantive discussion with this writer, and his press secretary gave me his business card, hoping that would satisfy me and I would go away. I didn’t.
As I stood by, Raskin spoke French with a French broadcaster for several minutes, apparently repeating his allegations that the Russians had intervened against the successful pro-European candidate, Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron, in the recent French presidential election.
Raskin’s own particular “March for Truth” consisted of marching away in anger and disgust when I pressed him about his father’s ties to the Russians and the nature of his father’s think tank, the IPS.
The record is clear. In the 1980s, in order to undermine Reagan’s defense buildup, Marcus Raskin and the IPS planned several conferences with Soviet officials believed to be under the influence or control of the Soviet intelligence services. At the time, 12 members of the U.S. Senate and 70 members of the House wrote to Secretary of State George Shultz, warning that the Soviet Union would use the events for intelligence purposes.
IPS subservience to the agenda of the Soviet Union and its client state was a major topic of concern to those backing Reagan’s anti-Soviet policies.
Journalist and author Brian Crozier wrote in National Review that the IPS was “the perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB.” S. Steven Powell’s book on the IPS, Covert Cadre,includes photographs of identified Soviet agents who attended IPS functions or associated with IPS personalities. He names two as KGB officers.
The IPS even hosted convicted Soviet spy Alger Hiss. It regarded him as innocent and launched a series of “Alger Hiss lectures” in 2002, after receiving a bequest from the estate of Alger and Isabel Johnson Hiss.
Ironically, Rep. Raskin used his D.C. speech to denounce the Russians for using “active measures” or influence operations against the United States, the same kind that his own father’s organization facilitated.
In his heated speech to the “March for Truth” crowd of about 1,000 people, Raskin attacked President Trump and other administration officials as Russian agents or dupes. He also claimed that former Trump advisor Roger Stone hosted a show on Russia Today (RT), the Moscow-funded channel. “He hosted a series on the Russia propaganda network,” Raskin said. Stone has said he appeared on the channel but didn’t host a show.
Later, when I asked Raskin for his opinion on Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz, two progressives who do host shows on RT, he claimed ignorance, saying, “Drop me a note.” When I pressed him on the matter, he said they were “private citizens” and not government officials.
As more proof of rank hypocrisy on the part of the rally organizers and speakers, evidence shows that Hartmann is on the board of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), one of the “National Partner organizations” of the “March for Truth” demonstration.
Hartmann, who has been paid by RT to do a show on the Kremlin channel for several years, tried to rip a camera out of my hands when I questioned him a few years ago about his Moscow funding.
Raskin also demonstrated curious sensitivity on the subject of Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) connections to Moscow. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders, then a Democratic presidential candidate, appeared on the air with RT host Schultz, formerly of MSNBC.
Sanders had worked on a pro-Stalin Israeli Kibbutz during his younger days and, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, had participated in a conference sponsored by the U.S. Peace Council, an organization controlled by the Moscow-funded Communist Party USA. He is a frequent speaker at events sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), one of whose members, Kurt Stand, is a convicted communist spy for the Soviet Union (and later Russia) and East Germany.
What’s more, Sanders and his wife went to the old Soviet Union on their honeymoon.
But when I asked Raskin if Sanders should be investigated for his Russian ties, he was skeptical and responded, “To search for what crime?” When I told him that “collusion” and “collaboration” with the Russians, the justification for the ongoing Trump investigation, were sufficient grounds, Raskin was still not convinced but conceded that an independent commission might be able to look into it. In regard to the Sanders honeymoon, he asked, “What year was that?” as if it had occurred too long ago to investigate. He eventually walked away, saying, “Stop harassing me.”
At that point, I was suggesting that Russian influence over his father’s organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, was also a suitable subject for investigation. The IPS still exists and today calls itself “a progressive think tank dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful society. In partnership with dynamic social movements, we turn transformative policy ideas into action.”
Raskin and his father also have deep ties to academia.
While Rep. Raskin was a Professor of Law and Director of the Law and Government Program at the American University Washington College of Law, his father Marcus Raskin is currently serving as a professor at George Washington University. He is still listed on the IPS website as one of its “experts,” and” a “Distinguished Fellow and Founder” specializing in “Democracy, National Security.”
Media ties to Raskin and the IPS crowd are substantial. In the 1980s, many journalists were so close to the IPS that they actually taught classes at the organization. One, Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post, told students that “most journalists now, most Western journalists at least, are very eager to seek out guerrilla groups, leftist groups, because you assume they must be the good guys.”
That IPS class was held during a time when the old Soviet Union and its surrogate, communist Cuba, were destabilizing Central America and hoping to install a series of communist governments. Reagan had stopped the Soviet takeover at a critical juncture when he ordered the military liberation of communist-controlled Grenada.
Today, DeYoung is an associate editor and senior national security correspondent for The Washington Post, where she covers the Trump administration and U.S.-Russia relations.