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

Fear That Trump Will Fire Special Counsel in Russia Probe

American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

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 “Fear That Trump Will Fire Special Counsel in Russia Probe”

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 “What’s Next in the Trump-Russia Scandal”

Republicans Think Democrats Are Worse Than Russia

Jens Stoltenberg Donald Trump
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, April 12, 2017 (NATO)

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 hard right has convinced itself that Democrats are such a threat to America that it justifies collaboration with a foreign power. Read more “Republicans Think Democrats Are Worse Than Russia”

Trump’s Son Joins List of Officials Who Lied About Russia Contacts

Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a campaign event for his father in Tempe, Arizona, October 27, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

It’s hard to find anyone in Donald Trump’s orbit who didn’t meet and speak with Russian officials at some point.

And they all lied about it.

The latest addition to the list is the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The New York Times reports that in the summer of 2016, the young Trump met with a Kremlin-friendly lawyer in New York, hoping to get compromising information about Hillary Clinton.

Paul Manafort, the then-Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor, both attended the meeting.

Junior first denied the meeting happened. Then he admitted it did, but claimed it had nothing to do with politics. Only then did he admit it was campaign-related after all, but there was nothing wrong with it because the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, didn’t have any dirt on Clinton. Read more “Trump’s Son Joins List of Officials Who Lied About Russia Contacts”

Trump Investigated for Obstructing Justice, Financial Crimes

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)

The Washington Post reports that President Donald Trump is under investigation for potentially obstructing justice when he fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, in May.

The newspaper describes this as a “major turning point” in the legal offensive against the American president, who also faces questions about his team’s ties to Russia. Read more “Trump Investigated for Obstructing Justice, Financial Crimes”

Trump Administration Looked to Unilaterally Lift Russia Sanctions

Jens Stoltenberg Donald Trump
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, April 12 (NATO)

Is this it?

Last time we checked in with the Russia-Trump scandal, I wondered why the president’s team was so desperate for a back channel with Moscow.

A possible answer comes from Michael Isikoff, who reports for Yahoo! News that one of the first things Donald Trump’s people did when they came to power in January was ask the State Department for proposals to normalize relations with Russia, including lifting economic sanctions and returning diplomatic compounds which had been seized by the Obama Administration in retaliation for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Read more “Trump Administration Looked to Unilaterally Lift Russia Sanctions”

Trump’s Team Was Desperate for Back Channel with Moscow

Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend, the American commander in Iraq, speaks with President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, in Baghdad, April 3
Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend, the American commander in Iraq, speaks with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, in Baghdad, April 3 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

The Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of the president’s top advisors, proposed setting up a secret back channel with the Kremlin in December during a meeting that was also attended by General Michael Flynn.

According to The Post, Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, reported to Moscow in a cable that was intercepted by American spies that Kushner had suggested to him using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the back channel.

Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.

You think? Read more “Trump’s Team Was Desperate for Back Channel with Moscow”

Possible Russian Collusion Matters Less Than Trump’s Cover-Up

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Donald Trump
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16 (Turkish Presidency)

The cover-up is worse than the crime. It’s a cliché, but Donald Trump proves it.

Last week, we learned that the president had asked the director of the FBI, James Comey, to end an investigation into the foreign ties of his security advisor, Michael Flynn. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. He admitted as much in an interview with NBC.

Now The Washington Post reveals that Trump asked two of America’s spy masters to undermine the FBI investigation by publicly denying there was any evidence of collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Admiral Michael Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, both turned Trump down — as anyone in their position should have. But the fact that he asked is inexcusable. Read more “Possible Russian Collusion Matters Less Than Trump’s Cover-Up”