The warning signs have been there all along. The US intelligence community concluded Russian hackers—at the direction of Vladimir Putin—tried to influence the American election last November, and did so to put a thumb on the scale for Donald Trump. Manafort, Page, Flynn. The names and their connection to Putin’s Russia continue to pile up. It doesn’t take Woodward and Bernstein to connect the dots. The connections between Trump, his election, the transition and his people are simply overwhelming and demand nothing short of a full, fair and exhaustive investigation.
The situation surrounding the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser is just the latest revelation. At best, Trump waited until Flynn troubling action was found out. At worst, it’s just part of an overwhelming pattern that could result in a constitutional crisis or impeachment.
• After repeatedly promising to do so, Trump now refuses to release his tax returns (or at least we think so since it was Kellyanne Conway who said so and we can never be sure). Why? Of course, speculation is that he has substantial financial ties to Russia.
• Flynn talked to the Russians about easing sanctions on the very day President Obama imposed them. Then he lied about it to Vice President Pence who unwittingly (we think) lied to the nation about it. Why would Flynn seek to reassure the Russians that all would a-ok when Trump takes over? Maybe because Trump owed Putin.
• Trump knew of Flynn’s misdeeds as early as January 26th yet he didn’t ax Flynn until the media started reporting on them. Trump even told reporters on Air Force One that he hadn’t heard about the story when he was clearly briefed on it. Such a lie would be outrageous but in Trump’s case, it’s just the new normal.
• Why didn’t Putin retaliate against Obama’s sanctions? Perhaps because he got “don’t worry” from Flynn. Let’s also not forget Trump raised Putin for being “very smart” in holding off on evening the score.
• The propaganda arm of the Kremlin characterized Flynn’s firing/resignation as a “retirement.” A minor detail but telling nonetheless.
• Paul Manafort. The former Trump campaign chairman has some disturbing connections to Russian influences in Ukraine (which used to include Crimea).
• Carter Page. The early foreign policy advisor to Trump caught the FBI’s attention when he had extensive communications with Russian officials back during the summer. He was back there two months ago.
It could very well be that Russia is already cashing in on the favors Trump owes Putin. Word came Tuesday that Russia has deployed a new type of cruise missile in apparent violation of an arms reduction treaty. Further, Russia has parked a spy ship off the coast of Delaware.
These connections between Trump and Russia are more than concerning. They’re frightening. And they could end up in impeachment.