Reports of Trump’s ties to Russia, as well as ties involving many of his inner circle, were reported well before he won the Republican nomination for President. The media discussed Paul Manafort’s links to Ukrainian oligarchs. Pictures of General Michael Flynn dining with Vladimir Putin circulated widely before the election.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize there was more than met the eye when the ONLY change the Trump campaign requested in the GOP platform had to do with Russia. In favor of Russia. What was not known at that time was the extent or the depth of the tentacles that Putin had insinuated into the Trump campaign, and that carried over into the Trump administration.
That the Federal Bureau of Investigation was conducting a criminal investigation into the Trump organization’s involvement with Russia was also kept from the voters. Rumors of the now-famous “Steele dossier” also circulated in Washington, although it was not made public until the two-page analysis of its allegations were attached to an official intelligence briefing provided to President Obama and President-elect Trump.
But then, on March 4th, Donald Trump, who never knows when to leave well enough alone, decided to initiate a tweet storm early that morning claiming that President Obama “had my ‘wires’ tapped’ at Trump Tower. Perhaps he was trying to deflect public attention away from the fact that his National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, had been forced to resign after only 24 days in office, purportedly for lying to Vice President Pence about his ties to Russia.
When Trump was unable to offer a scrap of verifiable data to back up these outrageous claims, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes of California, announced its intention to investigate these charges. No doubt the Republicans thought they could smell blood in the water, bolster their leader’s allegations and throw damaging Obama’s reputation into the bargain.
As we all know now, this plan backfired bigly. Not only were Trump’s claims unequivocally denied by both the FBI and the NSA, but Director Comey of the FBI made public, for the first time, that Trump and his cohorts had been under an FBI investigation for months.
The House committee’s investigation came to an abrupt halt after Rep. Nunes completely muddied the waters with his visit to the White House to brief Trump on intel that he refused to share with the rest of the committee. Now it seems that the intel he briefed Trump on came from sources within the White House.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is going forward with its own investigations with a much greater mandate than proving whether or not Trump’s phones were wiretapped. There is an information overload right now on who listened to who’s conversations, unmasking of individual names, and FISA warrants. Lawyers for Gen. Flynn announced that he is will to testify – in exchange for immunity.
Polling shows that at least two-thirds of Americans want either a bi-partisan or independent investigation into the charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election.
This entire situation becomes more complicated every day. It certainly involves much greater issues than Watergate, our last great presidential scandal. That involved an attempted break-in of the DNC headquarters and subsequent cover up. Russiagate could prove that our President actively colluded with an enemy of our nation to sway the outcome of the election.
And this is an idea that many Americans have a hard time reconciling. Throughout our history, there have been unpopular presidents, presidents involved in scandals, presidents who made mistakes in policies. But, no matter how much people might have disliked, or even hated, their president, no one doubted that their president genuinely acted in what they believed were the best interests of the United States. Even Richard Nixon.
Never, never in the history of the United States has a president ever been considered to be a “useful tool” of a foreign adversary. We are entering uncharted waters here.
And we have no idea if the captain of our ship of state is willing to steer directly into the path of an iceberg on the orders of a thug dictator.