Big, big week for the Trump team and Russia. Monday, we had national security adviser Michael Flynn resign because he prematurely communicated with Russian officials. He was discussing Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador as a private citizen, then misled Mike Pence and other top officials over it. Can’t do that.
So he’s out, but now reports are surfacing left and right about the depth of this communication, the depth of possible collaboration between the Trump team and Russian officials.
Let’s detail both sides of it.
We remember the dossier. We remember the alleged hotel videos used to “bribe” Trump. We remember the notion that Putin’s been holding Trump by the balls since early in the election and has walked him right into the presidency. We remember that Russia purposefully leaked damaging information about the Clinton campaign in an effort to help The Donald. We remember that, conversely, they withheld damaging information on Trump/the GOP.
So, adding narratives like Trump aides were in “constant communication” with Russian officials throughout the campaign only makes the speculation worse. If true, that’s a horrific sign for the diplomatic and integrity standards of our White House. Putin might be funny and likable in an alpha male, “hey that dude does shirtless horse-riding photo ops lol” kinda way, but Russia has Russia’s best interests in mind. Always. They poison outspoken opponents. They invade sovereign nations and blatantly lie about it.
Therefore, Russian officials potentially holding our president’s aides’ hands throughout the campaign, the transition, and into running the country is not good. Not good at all.
Paul Manafort, a Trump adviser picked up on the alleged calls with Russian officials, defended potential communication with Russian intelligence officials with this solid point:
“It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”
Big if true.
The Not So Bad
Look, Trump attacks the media. Constantly. He insults them, demeans them, discredits them, calls them “fake news.” This inevitably gets under the media’s skin, and they’re out to paint him as as big a failure as they possible can. Of course the media does not TOTALLY allow this sort of bias to rule its coverage of the Trump administration, but it obviously seeps through. It muddies the waters. It’s there and it has an effect. That NYT journalist blabbering out “Melania is a hooker” to Emily Ratajkowski is a clear example of that.
Communication between campaigns and foreign governments is normal. It’s common. Not on a massive, uber frequent basis, but in general it’s very common.
CNN themselves write:
Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations.
Adding to US investigators’ concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.
And the New York Times writes:
Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia. And it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.
The officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.
Former Bush W. press secretary Ari Fleischer also chimed in, pointing out that the New York Times’ article on this — despite headlines — also made it clear that there’s not necessarily any damning evidence.
Why isn’t the headline: “Officials Say No Evidence of Cooperation Betw Trump campaign and Russia”- as story states. https://t.co/8WleU06Tig
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) February 15, 2017
Russia’s really walking on eggshells through all of this… just kidding they have a massive spy ship just hanging out just off the Connecticut coast.
And that’s the Russia situation.
Remember, folks, Putin does have a soft side.
PS — Lyin’ Ted from the top rope!
Breaking: ABC releases video of POTUS promising "more flexibility" w/ Russia after election. Media outraged: https://t.co/KF0Bw7qSgt
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 15, 2017