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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trump: On the surface and beyond

What the public sees about the connections between Donald Trump, his campaign surrogates, and "the Russians." is a pattern of contacts. CNN provides a credible depiction in a report that begins with saying that there is no presumption that the connections and communications are anything more than friendly exchanges of ideas. Sure.

Russia is not an ally of the U.S. nor is it even a "frenemy." While the U.S. might want improved relations, the Russian attack on the Crimea and Ukraine and a host of hostile acts by the Putin-led government make conditions poor for negotiating progress.

Donald Trump has long sought to do commercial business with the Russians. He has been involved in business with Russians on various projects around the world outside of Russia. He has banking relationships with Russians. Those things make Emolument Clause compliance essential. Furthermore, the Treasury Department and FBI are pouring over the books to vet and verify that there are no illegalities or breaches that would undermine the Presidency.

The visible connections between Trump campaign and executive branch staff with Russian contacts make an investigation essential. Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, confidants of President Trump have had active relationships with Russians as has Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and others.

What is the official status between the U.S. and Russia?

Let's search the CIA World Factbook for Russia:

Let's ask the U.S. State Department about our official policy toward Russia. Here is a synopsis from the Brookings Institute, a "think-tank."

"Russia today poses a greater foreign policy and security challenge to the United States and its Western allies than at any time since the mid-1980s, when it was incarnated as the Soviet Union and the U.S. and the USSR were engaged in a nuclear arms race that seemed set to bring the world to the point of a nuclear conflagration. 
Russia’s military seizure and annexation of Crimea, and its war in Ukraine’s Donbas region, have sparked Europe’s worst security crisis since the 1990s Yugoslav wars. 
Russia’s military intervention in Syria has upended Western calculations in the Middle East. Russian actions now endanger Euro-Atlantic aspirations for stability across a region stretching from Belarus to the Eastern Mediterranean. 
Russia’s challenge has occurred during a period when the U.S.-led post-Cold War security order has weakened and fragmented, along with the norms that have sustained Western institutions like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). The legitimacy and credibility of these institutions has been undermined in spite of the fact that the enlargement of NATO and the EU, along with the creation of the framework for an institutionalized partnership with Russia through the Charter of Paris, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the NATO-Russia Founding Act, were all seen to have led to a new era of more cooperative U.S.-Russian relations and the stabilization of Eastern Europe in the 1990s and 2000s.
In an August 2014 speech in Yalta, in Crimea, only a few months after annexing the peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin openly rejected the U.S. and Western vision of the post-Cold War order in Europe"

"Trump officials and Russia talked a lot. But about what?
Here's where things can get a little complicated.
An important reminder right off the top: Connections do not suppose collusion or collaboration. Take the incident that led to Flynn's ouster. Incoming officials in newly elected administrations routinely make contact with the people they'll be working with (or against) after taking office.
Flynn was fired because he lied to the vice president, both a workplace blunder and, in the eyes of the Justice Department, an action that could make him liable to blackmail by the Russians. Trump's personal reasoning is still unclear, but taken together, it's pretty obvious why he had to go.
Beyond Flynn, there is a vast web of connections among Trump campaign officials and Russian officials and business leaders. There is nothing to suggest, at this point, that any of the contacts were made for the purpose of coordinating activities. Nor is there proof that anyone, including Trump, was aware of what US officials allege Moscow was up to.
But the volume of contacts is enough to raise reasonable questions."

1 comment:

  1. An FBI official claims to have information that suggests collaboration between President Donald Trump's associates and Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election, CNN reported Wednesday night.

    The anonymous law enforcement official told the news outlet that FBI evidence shows "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information" in order to promote Trump and erode trust in Hillary Clinton's campaign.

    Still, other agents said that the evidence in question was almost all circumstantial, which means that it cannot be used to make any conclusive suppositions.