The New York Post
May 31, 2017
President Trump’s immediate Russia problem is that he insists he doesn’t have a Russia problem. He does.
Whether the multiple investigations underway reveal indisputable evidence of subversive relationships or give the president a clean bill of political health, they must be pursued to the end. It’s essential to the integrity of our system of government.
Given the allegations and the extraordinary, if largely circumstantial, evidence already accumulated, every American, whatever his or her political bent, should want answers. Instead, we have Democrats prematurely demanding impeachment, while Republicans dismiss a paramount security threat as a witch hunt.
Let the independent counsel, the FBI, Treasury and other relevant agencies do their jobs.
What do we know that merits investigation?
At least five Trump campaign advisers have had dubious ties to Russia. Carter Page shared energy-industry information with Russian agents. Roger Stone, who’s known Trump since the 1980s, appears to have had advance knowledge of Russian mischief during the election. Paul Manafort made a fortune working for Vladimir Putin’s now-vanquished puppet regime in Ukraine and had extensive Moscow ties.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, once a fine soldier, disgraced his uniform by taking payment from the Putin regime (and by surreptitiously flacking for Turkey) then attempting to cover it up. He lied to Vice President Mike Pence, obfuscated with investigators and deceived the Pentagon.
Now Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been placed, along with Flynn, in a secretive meeting with Russia’s US ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, reportedly for the purpose of establishing clandestine back-channel communications with Moscow (the line was never activated). Whether the idea was first broached by Flynn and Kushner or by the Russians, this isn’t business as usual. Even Henry Kissinger, pursuing his opening with China, didn’t rely upon Chinese intelligence-service communications.
Kushner also met with Sergey Gorkov, Russian spy-school grad and head of Vnesheconombank, a Russian international bank under US sanctions that appears to serve as a slushfund for Putin. Why? This isn’t business as usual, either.
-- Recent reports claim US intelligence intercepted Russian chatter during the campaign in which our enemies discussed holding compromising information on Trump or his associates. The president’s defenders dismiss this as Russian disinformation — but why would the Russians compromise the most pro-Moscow major-party candidate for president since FDR’s last campaign? Or his pro-Russian staffers?
-- The president fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been heading the investigation into Russian campaign activities. Then Trump told the Russian ambassador and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that getting rid of Comey took the pressure off of Russia-related matters. That isn’t business as usual.
-- Trump made it clear that, in the recent French presidential elections, he preferred pro-Putin candidate Marine le Pen (who lost by a landslide). Trump mirrors Putin’s line on the European Union and, to a worrisome degree, NATO. And while the president is swift to criticize allies, he doesn’t criticize Putin. That isn’t business as usual.
-- All US intel agencies agree the Russians actively interfered in our presidential election, hoping to defeat Hillary Clinton. As a former intelligence officer, I can assure readers that this isn’t a “deep-state conspiracy” to “get Trump.” The intel agencies do their best to remain nonpartisan — and ironically, intel professionals probably voted overwhelmingly for Trump, given how severely they condemned Clinton’s misbehavior.
-- The members of the relevant Senate and House committees who’ve had access to closely held intelligence believe further investigation is required.
-- White House media surrogates make much of the fact that “no charges have been filed.” Well, not yet. The FBI doesn’t work that way (nor does Treasury, the ringer in this match). Arguably the most methodical government agency, the FBI, doesn’t recommend charges in any case until it has squeezed out each last drop of evidence — and that takes time, even years. That is business as usual.
And when, after his brief tenure as national-security adviser, Gen. Flynn asked Congress for immunity in return for his testimony — a request that was promptly denied — it suggested that prosecutions of at least some of the figures enmeshed in this saga will lead to a courtroom and, perhaps, a prison.
It’s unfortunate that this vital national-security issue has been muddied by the shamelessly biased media (on both sides) and by hysterical partisan loyalties. This transcends politics. It’s about the safety of the republic, the integrity of our national elections and possible hostile penetration of a presidential administration.
No matter which side of the political divide we’re on, as Americans we should want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
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