Trump’s Russian Ties to be Investigated
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump confused a lot of people. While vocally espousing conservative issues, he would sometimes drop in a comment that liberals liked, such as when Trump condemned and ridiculed George W. Bush. Could it be that this was the man who could please both sides, and “bring us together again”??
His history showed strong support for “freedom of choice,” Planned Parenthood, gun control, and a lot of other liberal issues. Might he be a liberal in conservative clothing?? His desire to get along with Russia was surely anathema to conservatives.
In December, Barack Obama levied sanctions on Russia, for their efforts to try to throw our election. But Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, apparently talked to the Russian ambassador, telling him not to worry about American foreign policy. It would soon be turned on its head. The Washington Examiner says that was a firing offense.
After Election Day, President Trump carried with him more than a whiff of excessive coziness with Russia. Dropping National Security Adviser Michael Flynn from the administration Monday night was the biggest step Trump has taken yet to clear the air around him. There’s more the president needs to do on this front.
The Russia stench had many sources. Trump refused, for weeks, to admit Russia had tried to influence the 2016 election, or to call that meddling a problem. His choice of campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was an operative who has worked for the worst elements of the Russian regime. The Trump campaign had quietly killed, without debate, a pro-Ukraine plank in the GOP platform. Trump asserted he had no business dealings with Russia while we know he had some. And picking Flynn, with his own known coziness with Vladimir Putin’s regime, added to the list of widespread concerns. . .
Since the election, Trump has made some positive steps. Just before the inauguration, he finally pinned the blame for election hacking on Russia. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, in her first day on the job, hit Moscow hard on Ukraine. Forcing out Flynn, presumably after learning that Flynn didn’t shoot straight about his conversation with Russia’s ambassador, is the most important move in this step-by-step corrective.
The next advisable step would be full disclosure, with paperwork, of all the Trump’s business dealings in Russia. We know he held a beauty pageant there. It would be simple, and clarifying, to make public all his Russia ties.
The Examiner, a conservative Washington paper, previously complained that Trump seemed to be putting “Russia First.”
When prodded last weekend by Bill O’Reilly about Vladimir Putin being a “killer,” President Trump demurred, saying, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”. . .
Trump is a Twitter gadfly, a tabloid fixture, a reality television star — an entertainer. But now he is president, and it is important for him to grasp that his latest job is not just one among many, but is by far the greatest of them, and requires him to behave in ways that the others do not.
He understands that Americans want a president who puts America first. He is right to do so despite the revulsion of the chattering classes. When you’re president, it is your job to put America first. And that is what he should have done in answering the question about Putin.
Whatever reasons he has for wishing to make nice with Putin — one can imagine a wide range of possibilities from the strategic to the venal, legitimate to alarming — Trump should not use America as a foil against which to burnish the reputation of another country.
Trump was on Fox News, being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly when he made the comment above. The next night, O’Reilly had another Fox “talking head” on his show to discuss it. Charles Krauthammer complained about Trump’s condemning American “killing,” but O’Reilly said he thought Trump was just pandering to Russia.
Bill O’Reilly brought Charles Krauthammer onto his show tonight to react to his big interview with President Trump, and Krauthammer made it clear he too has a serious problem with what the president said about Russia.
He was disturbed by Trump drawing a “moral equivalence” between the U.S. and Russia, but O’Reilly said he didn’t get that impression.
O’Reilly offered that it sounded like Trump was saying the U.S. doesn’t “have a right to form a judgment” on Vladimir Putin killing opponents, mixed in with a calculation that he wants Putin’s help in fighting ISIS.
The Russians, of course, think the Flynn resignation is a plot against Russia.
“It’s obvious that Flynn was forced to write the letter of resignation under a certain amount of pressure,” Leonid Slutsky, head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.
“The target was Russia-US relations, undermining confidence in the new US administration. We’ll see how the situation develops further,” he added.
Business Insider says Trump’s Russian ties deserve more investigation.
Trump made clear during his election campaign that he revered Putin’s leadership of Russia, and he made a direct public appeal to the Kremlin during a news conference in July asking it to find damaging information on his Democrat opponent, Hillary Clinton.
A classified dossier on Trump originally compiled as political opposition research, which had been making the rounds in Washington since last year, contained unverified details of supposed associations between Trump and Russia. US officials on Friday said some elements in the 35-page document had indeed proved accurate.
Much of the Trump-Russia collusion story is based on a “dossier” that was originally funded by Anti-Trump Republicans. While much of the dossier is “unsubstantiated” (that is, it’s not “untrue,” it is just without secondary evidence), much of it lines up with known facts, according to Business Insider.
The dossier was compiled by veteran British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia by the Washington, DC-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Steele developed a network of sources while working on the Moscow desk of UK intelligence agency MI6.. . .
Fusion was initially hired by anti-Trump Republicans to conduct opposition research on Trump in late 2015, and Democrats took over funding for the project after the Republicans pulled out. Fusion’s cofounder, Glenn Simpson, a former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, continued the project with Steele even after Democrats pulled funding when Trump won the election. . .
But US investigators, who have opened investigations into several members of Trump’s inner circle and their ties to Russia over the past year, say they have been able to corroborate some of the details in the dossier by intercepting some of the conversations between some senior Russian officials and other Russians, CNN reported on Friday.
That has given the investigators “greater confidence” in the credibility of the some aspects of the memos, CNN’s sources said.
As noted at the beginning of this article, it is the GOP which is usually hawkish about Russia, so it’s not just Democrats who want to know “what Trump knew and when he knew it” about various Russian ties and activities.
The Senate’s second-ranking Republican and other GOP senators are calling for an investigation into connections between President Donald Trump and Russia, and want former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to testify.
Sen. John Cornyn, who has called for an investigation into Trump’s tie to Russia before Flynn resigned, told reporters Tuesday that the Senate standing committees with oversight of intelligence need to investigate Flynn. Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also told KTRS radio he wanted to speak with Flynn. . .
Sen. Lindsey Graham also said he wants an investigation into Flynn’s conversations with a Russian ambassador about sanctions.
“I think Congress nees to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions,” the South Carolina Republican told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.”
“And I want to know, ‘Did General Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?’”
Trump earlier had fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who had warned the White House that Michael Flynn was likely vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.