Trump Accepts Putin’s Denials of Election Interference

American president Donald Trump meets with Japanese officials in Tokyo, November 6
American president Donald Trump meets with Japanese officials in Tokyo, November 6 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

America’s spy agencies are unanimous in their assessment that Russia tried to sabotage the 2016 election. Yet Donald Trump puts more faith in the word of Vladimir Putin.

“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that’,” Trump told reporters after meeting with the Russian president on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam, “and I really believe that, when he tells me that, he means it.”

Asked if he accepts Putin’s denials, Trump said, “I can’t stand there and argue with him,” adding he would rather discuss international issues, such as the war in Syria or the nuclear crisis in Korea.

“If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing,” he argued.

The American Culture Wars Are Officially a Strategic Threat

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump campaign people are going to jail.

This isn’t quite the fall of the Trumpian house of cards. Paul Manafort’s indictment is very specific to him and his work in Ukraine. More information must come out before we can be certain this will lead to the White House. While the revelations of George Papadopoulos create the strongest link yet, they have not produced an indictment to date.

Yet there is an essential tale here: for the first time in modern American history, a foreign power has substantially interfered with a political campaign. It’s not that others haven’t tried. The Soviet Union tried several times to back favored candidates, especially in the turbulent 1960s and 70s. But in those Cold War cases, American candidates refused the help.

This is the first time it looks like someone said yes.

What changed? Read more

Former Trump Campaign Officials Arrested in Russia Probe

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to sabotage the 2016 election has yielded charges against three veterans of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:

  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to register as foreign agents, giving false and misleading statements and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign-policy advisor, has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign. Read more

Kushner Had “Hardly Any” Contacts with Russians. Except These

Jared Kushner listens as his wife, Ivanka, speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and American president Donald Trump outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17
Jared Kushner listens as his wife, Ivanka, speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and American president Donald Trump outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

American president Donald Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, Jared Kushner, claims he had “hardly any” contacts with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.

Except for these:

  • One (brief) meeting with Sergei Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, in April.
  • And maybe two phone calls with Kislyak in the months thereafter, as Reuters has reported. Kushner is “skeptical” the calls took place.
  • Definitively a meeting with various Russian officials, including the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, that was also attended by Donald Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, and his oldest son. Read more

Fear That Trump Will Fire Special Counsel in Russia Probe

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for ways to disparage Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating Russia’s attack on America’s 2016 election.

The New York Times reports that Trump’s political aides and legal counsel are hoping to find a conflict of interest they could use to discredit Mueller’s investigation — or even build a case to fire him. Read more

What’s Next in the Trump-Russia Scandal

American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24 (Michael Vadon)

We have entered a new phase in the Trump-Russia scandal.

Not only did the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Kremlin-friendly lawyer last summer hoping to learn damaging information about Hillary Clinton; he did not seem at all surprised when a Russian contact told him Moscow was supporting his father.

This is the clearest evidence yet of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Which, despite what Trump’s apologists in the conservative media are saying, would be a crime.

But that doesn’t mean Trump is about to lose his job. Read more

Republicans Think Democrats Are Worse Than Russia

Radio and television host Sean Hannity speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Radio and television host Sean Hannity speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

How can Republicans still support Donald Trump now that there is proof of collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia?

Several users on Twitter have suggested that the right-wing media would have gone berserk if this story was about Hillary Clinton. They’re right. Instead of giving Donald Trump Jr. a softball interview, Sean Hannity would be screaming bloody murder.

We know, because that’s what he did during the phony Clinton email scandal.

And perhaps that helps answer our question: The American hard right has convinced itself that Democrats are such a threat to the country that it justifies collaboration with a foreign power. Read more