Opinion: Trump campaign ‘had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials’?

APTOPIX Damaged Dam

The U.S. intelligence community seems to have sprung a small leak or two.

A few days after the Washington Post broke the news of secret transcripts of phone calls between National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador, the New York Times reports that phone records and intercepted calls prove that members of the Trump campaign “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

Let that sink in: ” … repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials.”

It’s important to note that those contacts do not in themselves constitute evidence of actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, although the investigation is continuing.  However, these revelations come on the heels of a CNN report that investigators have corroborated many “non-salacious” details in the infamous dossier alleging multiple contacts and even collusion between the Trump campaign and high-level Russian officials. For example, according to CNN, calls that were alleged to have taken place in the dossier have now been documented as occurring at the time and place that the dossier reported.

Meanwhile, fighting in Ukraine continues, a Russian spy ship lingers off the U.S. coast and the Russians have reportedly tested a cruise missile in violation of a longstanding arms treaty, with no official response yet from the Trump White House.

If it’s hard to wrap your head around all of that, join the club.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen this level of discord and disorganization in a presidential administration, at least not in living memory. But here are a few points of potential clarity:

— So far, three people with ties to the Trump campaign — former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and now Flynn — have had to sever those ties after their dealings with Russian officials became too difficult to defend in public any longer. In a normal administration, just one such incident would be deeply troubling. As you may have noticed, this is not a normal administration.

— Just a few weeks ago, President Trump visited CIA headquarters, stood before the wall of the fallen and proclaimed that he enjoyed the love, affection and support of America’s intelligence professionals, dismissing any allegation to the contrary as a media invention. Based on what has since been leaked to the media, Trump appears to have been wrong about that level of support.

— Conservatives would like to believe that these leaks are coming from Obama administration holdovers, and I guess that’s plausible to a degree. On the other hand, the spy services are not exactly known as hotbeds of liberalism, and sometimes what doesn’t happen can be more instructive than what does. In this case, we’re seeing no pushback against these leaks from within the intelligence community as a whole, suggesting that they are not the work of rogue employees or those with a political agenda, but rather represent the consensus of our intel apparatus. I’ve also seen no claim from intel professionals that the reports are inaccurate.

— Government by leak is a terrible way to run a country, and every American ought to be alarmed by the sense of chaos that these leaks create. We don’t know who the leakers are or what their agenda might be. On the other hand, if the intelligence community had grounds to question the honesty, loyalty and competence of those at top levels in the Trump administration, what avenues would be open to it to communicate that concern to the American people? Through the Justice Department, where Trump ally Jeff Sessions has made clear that he will not recuse himself from leading the investigation? Through a Republican Congress that is largely deaf to such concerns?

I’ve been troubled by Trump’s attitude toward Putin and Russia for a long time now, but for the most part I’ve tried to attribute it to political naivete and to Trump’s own eccentricities. The notion of it being something deeper and more sinister seemed unlikely, and the consequences to our system too profound to take seriously.

But with each new revelation, one after another after another, that approach becomes harder to sustain.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

2692 comments
BuzzBelle
BuzzBelle

It is possibleTrump* actually lost the popular vote by 10 million.  3 million less than Hillary, another 7 million that voted independent.  Whoever looked at Trump's approval rating comprehends just like Trump*.  His DISapproval rating is at 55%, his approval is at 40%, 5% lower than Jan. 20.

WDE
WDE

@BuzzBelle so all those independents in your pointed little head were voting against Trump and not against Hillary ??  

Deplorable Veteran
Deplorable Veteran

Trump's  approval at 55% . Boeing rejects union.  Press is mad at Trump.  Rally in Melbourne Fl.  Democrats frantic  and silly .  Life is good !

Here's_to_Blue
Here's_to_Blue

@Deplorable Veteran Wasn't that Boeing union rejection in South Carolina?  Big surprise, there.  And narcissistic Donnie Trump misses the adulation of crowds, so he called a "rally."  Poor baby.  He's had such a rough time in his administration so far that he needs to cry on the rally-ers' shoulders.

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

Inside Donald Trump's White House Chaos

For two years, Donald Trump mastered the art of disruption. Name a political precept and he probably broke it during his improbable march to the White House. But disruption in government--the rulemaker breaking the rules--turns out to be more costly. In the first month of his presidency, the New York billionaire has witnessed the lesson of Samson: toppling the temple can be painful if you try it from the inside.

http://time.com/4672974/donald-trump-white-house-chaos/ 

Kamchak
Kamchak

Our boy rebbie-poo has Pulitzer envy.

LOL!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"If he were a Democrat, impeachment hearings would already be underway," Krugman tweeted as part of a tweetstorm on Wednesday.

Krugman said that while Trump has not created a "constitutional crisis," the new administration has plunged the country "deep into a *legitimacy* crisis."

From Business Insider.

Paul42
Paul42

@JohnnyReb


"There's growing bipartisan unrest among the rank and file over just how much of the White House popular vote loser Donald Trump

No wonder you LibProgs are so wrong.

Your media is corrupt."

So how many popular votes did Trump win by, JohnnyReb?

(I'm betting you won't answer.  You seem to be in knee-jerk response mode).

Paul42
Paul42

@JohnnyReb

You just said Trump was the loser in the popular vote.

Now you said he lost the popular vote by 3 million?

You going to make up your mind anytime soon?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Paul42 @JohnnyReb

Hillary lost with 3 million more popular votes.

How's that?

When are you guys going to come to grips with having lost?

It's over.

The fat lady sung.

You are out.

Live with it.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Paul42 @JohnnyReb  Well, when you notice that over 4 million of those 3 million votes came from California, there's really not much to say.

Paul42
Paul42

@DownInAlbany

What's your point?  Some votes don't count?  People in certain regions cluster more to one view than another?  There are more people in America who voted for Hillary than Donald?

What?

WDE
WDE

@Paul42 @DownInAlbany I think what he is saying that people in the more populous states should not count more than folks is any other state there fore we have the electoral college system...so people out side of Cail and NY actually count..I think that is what he is getting at..

KimberlyKrautter
KimberlyKrautter

I'm just glad the "old line" media is finally picking up this story. Better tardy than a no show. The Daily Beast exposed Paul Manafort's Russian Connections

4/03/2016

8/18/2016

11/07/2016

And Politico put Carter Page's Russian wheeling and dealing in the spotlight on 9/23/2016.

In other words, A) Old line media failed to do its job, and B) We were warned.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@KimberlyKrautter Lots of people do business with Russia including Europeans.

Talking to a Russian is not a crime.

Manafort has not been charged with a crime.

When he has, come back to see us.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Why not?

You guys blamed W for 8 years.


Please compare the country each President left after 8 years.


See a difference ?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@JohnnyReb 

Yes, me and millions saw the difference and put a Repub back in the White House.

Nearly 3 million more voted for Clinton.

Moving the goalposts from voters to the EC in 3...2...1....

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Kamchak @JohnnyReb

I can't help you continue to show your lack of understanding.

We have never elected a president by popular vote and never will.

Never, I say?  Yes

There is no way enough states to ratify the Constitution would give up their liberty to a bunch of Lib idiots in big cities.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Hedley_Lammar Yeah both W and Obama doubled down on the national debt. And middle class wages are still flat or dropping. Our Infrastructure still needs trillions in repairs, the military need an overhaul, inner cities are still decaying, public education is in need a better lesson plan, But I will give President Obama credit for the stock market's wild ride to over 20,000 and the continued growth of the coveted donor class(the 1%).

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Hedley_Lammar Yes, me and millions saw the difference and put a Repub back in the White House.

Does that answer your question?

WDE
WDE

@Hedley_Lammar truly I do my country was much better off and stronger and more united after Bush..

WDE
WDE

@Hedley_Lammar @JohnnyReb funny everyone that doesn't agree with you is dumb or worse...liberal tolerance on display again.

WDE
WDE

@KimberlyKrautter WTF are you talking about...employed he hide millions of jobless folks but just dropping them off the rolls...

Kamchak
Kamchak

@WDE 

 employed he hide millions of jobless folks but just dropping them off the rolls...

Got proof?

Please, show your work.

Thanks in advance.

WDE
WDE

@Kamchak @WDE sorry that you don't agree...wait silly me nothing is valid if it differs from you company line...   

Kamchak
Kamchak

@WDE 

Did Jonah "Doughy Pantload" Goldberg ever find his missing Pulitzers?

LOL!

KimberlyKrautter
KimberlyKrautter

Yeah... W left the nation jobless, tattered, and a stock market in ruins. Obama left the nation employed, spending tons on crap and fun, with the stock market soaring at 166.3% higher than Jan 20, 2009. #ThanksObama

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

So looks like Trump has nominated a decent pick for labor secretary.  Alexander Acosta. Guess they round out the field for diversity. Wonder how well he will do on the job.



Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@McGarnagle A  NLRB board member, assistant attorney general and US attorney for south Florida,and now dean of the FIU law school.It appears mr Acosta may have been a better choice for AG rather than Labor sec.

gotalife
gotalife

After we are attacked. then what?

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@gotalifeThey’ll find a way to BLAME OBAMA and let Trumped off the hook.

That’s how they roll.