Trump Builds Kleptocracy as Evidence of Russian Collusion Piles Up

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)

Evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians continues to pile up.

Previously, Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was forced to step down for failing to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak.

Now we know both Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, met and spoke with Kislyak as well. We don’t know what they discussed.

We have also learned that Kushner — who is nominally in charge of everything from Israeli-Palestinian relations to government modernization — met with Sergei Gorkov, a former Russian spy and the head of Vnesheconombank. We have no idea what they talked about either. Read more “Trump Builds Kleptocracy as Evidence of Russian Collusion Piles Up”

Trump Seeks to Allay Russia Criticism with New Ambassador

Former ambassador Jon Huntsman gives a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, April 29, 2014
Former ambassador Jon Huntsman gives a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, April 29, 2014 (ImageLink Photography/Dennis Kan)

Former China ambassador Jon Huntsman is the latest Russia hawk to join the Donald Trump Administration.

If confirmed by the Senate, Huntsman would succeed John F. Tefft as the American ambassador in Moscow.

Other appointments sure to trouble the Kremlin include Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond McMaster and the White House senior director for Europe and Russia, Fiona Hill. All have been critical of Vladimir Putin.

Their elevations may be a way for Trump to allay criticism of ties between his advisors and Russia. Read more “Trump Seeks to Allay Russia Criticism with New Ambassador”

It Seems Everybody Around Trump Was Talking to the Russians

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

Was there anyone on Donald Trump’s campaign not talking to the Russians?

The latest news is that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States in September, when he was serving as foreign-policy advisor on the presidential campaign.

We don’t know what the two discussed, but we do know that Sessions lied about the conversation taking place.

During his confirmation hearings, he was explicitly asked by senators if he had been in contact with Russians — any Russians — during the campaign. Sessions said “no”. Read more “It Seems Everybody Around Trump Was Talking to the Russians”

The Russo-Trump Alliance

Russian president Vladimir Putin participates in a videoconference from the Kremlin in Moscow, December 27, 2016
Russian president Vladimir Putin participates in a videoconference from the Kremlin in Moscow, December 27, 2016 (Kremlin)

The Russian hacking scandal of the Democratic National Party continues; accusations that incoming President-elect Donald Trump is a Russian stooge are as steady as the drumbeat of yesteryear’s cries that Barack Obama was not really a citizen. The evidence behind the attack is still thin. Yet it is also irrelevant because it seems the incoming administration has concluded that an alliance with Moscow is just what America’s geopolitical doctor has ordered.

A Russo-Trump alliance is in the offing and it does make a lot of sense in the short term.

Alas for the international system, and for the United States, it’s a deal with the devil that will exact ever-higher tolls the longer it goes on. Read more “The Russo-Trump Alliance”

Trump’s Credibility Problem on Russia

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)

I’ve been meaning to write about this since The Washington Post reported on Friday that the CIA is now confident Russia hacked the Democratic Party’s emails in July and November to help Donald Trump win the election — but NBC News sums it up perfectly today: Read more “Trump’s Credibility Problem on Russia”

The Real Scandal Is That Putin Obviously Prefers Trump

Russian president Vladimir Putin answers questions from reporters at a summit in Ufa, Bashkortostan, July 9, 2015
Russian president Vladimir Putin answers questions from reporters at a summit in Ufa, Bashkortostan, July 9, 2015 (Kremlin)

You can find excellent reporting elsewhere on the Democratic Party’s email leak and the ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin. Read this from Vice, for example, which argues that all the signs point to Russia being behind the leak. Or read this from Talking Points Memo on the connections between Trump’s operation and Vladimir Putin.

It’s tempting to put two and two together and imagine that the Russian government hacked into the Democrats’ emails and shared them with WikiLeaks in order to embarrass Hillary Clinton at the very moment her party is convened in Philadelphia to nominate her for the presidency.

From what I’ve read, we’re not there yet. But when it looks like a duck and swims like a duck… Well. Read more “The Real Scandal Is That Putin Obviously Prefers Trump”