Opinion: The strands linking Putin to Trump

Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. (AP)

Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. (AP)

It’ll be a while before we know the truth, or some semblance of it. We will never know it all. But I’m beginning to think that the ouster of Mike Flynn as national security adviser had very little to do with his conversations about sanctions with the Russian ambassador or even his subsequent misleading denial to Vice President Mike Pence.

Those may turn out to be the public excuses, not the private reasons, for his ouster.

The private reasons, the real reasons, may include Flynn’s own eccentricities, which even some in the Trump administration may have recognized as dangerous. In the event of an international crisis, you really don’t want a half-cocked president seeking counsel from a half-cocked national security adviser, a paranoid deputy national security adviser and the likes of Steve Bannon sitting on the National Security Council. If Pence and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus conspired to engineer Flynn’s removal, as some on the right allege, they deserve their country’s thanks for at least that much.

Then there’s the fact that Flynn, a retired three-star general, has acknowledged being paid by Russian state TV to make an appearance with Vladimir Putin in Russia in 2015. Late last week, after his ouster, news broke that Flynn did not clear that appearance or the financial arrangement with the Pentagon, as both the Constitution and military regulations require. And according to a new account by the New Yorker, the fee that Flynn was offered was $40,000.

With all the attention being paid to Trump’s ties to Russia, the administration did not need Sean Spicer standing behind his podium trying to justify a national security adviser who had illegally taken $40,000 from Putin. At the very least, Flynn’s timely ouster took some of the steam out of that revelation.  (It is a strange coincidence — and surely only that — that Flynn ended up as Trump’s top foreign-policy adviser while Paul Manafort ended up as his campaign manager.)

Flynn’s name also pops up in a startling new story published Monday by The New York Times that begins to peel back the network of ties linking Trump to Russia. The Times’ account — well-documented, using named sources — involves Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, and Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and convicted felon with long business ties to Trump.

Along with a pro-Putin Ukrainian legislator with political ties to Manafort, Cohen and Sater collaborated on a proposed “peace plan” for Ukraine along lines that would make Putin very happy. The Ukrainian, Andrii V. Artemenko, told the Times that top aides to Putin had signed off on the deal.

As Cohen admitted to the Times, he then hand-delivered that secret plan to Flynn at a meeting in the White House earlier this month, and was awaiting a response when Flynn was pushed out. (Cohen later offered the Washington Post a different version of events, claiming that he had agreed to deliver the plan but in the end did not do so).

If that all sounds bizarre to the point of being almost inconceivable, it should. With the Trump administration deeply embroiled in controversy about its Russia policy, the very idea that Trump private-sectorassociates are secretly dabbling in back-channel, unauthorized and pro-Russian diplomatic efforts just boggles the mind.

And here’s the cherry on top: Cohen, a longtime Trump confidante, had been accused in that infamous intelligence dossier of having traveled to Prague in August to confer with Russian intelligence agents, a charge that he emphatically denies. Absent some evidence, I’m inclined to believe him. However, with that charge hanging over your head, with the FBI and other intelligence agencies investigating the dossier to try to confirm its details, what kind of naive numbskull raises the ante by getting involved in a separate pro-Russian outreach, in effect acting as an emissary between Putin and Trump?

I get the feeling that these folks are in way over their head, that they are amateurs who aren’t nearly as smart as they like to think they are, playing a game where they don’t understand the stakes.

On Friday afternoon, as members of Congress fled Washington for a recess, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Trump/Russia ties stayed behind for an unannounced, two-hour secret briefing by FBI Director James Comey. By all accounts, senators of both parties emerged from that briefing with grave faces and buttoned lips, refusing to say a thing.

The only hint of what they were told came from one of the panel members, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who tweeted this cryptic message a few hours later:

Reading that, you’d have to conclude that something important has changed.

Reader Comments 0

1838 comments
Corey
Corey

A seventy year old insecure, paranoid man is driving national policy.

luckjoe
luckjoe

@Corey As opposed to the Globalist, illegal alien embracing, cop hating, Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islamic sympathizer we had for the past 8 years.

ProudAmerican2017
ProudAmerican2017

Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein has attacked Donald Trump’s “lying” and said his attacks on the media are more treacherous than those of Richard Nixon, the president he helped bring down.

Bernstein, whose reporting with Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee helped exposed the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, has told his 26,000 twitter followers: “The most dangerous ‘enemy of the people’ is presidential lying – always.  Attacks on the press by Donald Trump [are] more treacherous than Nixon’s.”

Apparently questioning Trump’s mental stability, Bernstein added: “Real news (not fake) is that Donald Trump is trying to make conduct of the press the issue instead of egregious (and unhinged) conduct of POTUS [President of the United States].”

Apparently questioning Trump’s mental stability, Bernstein added: “Real news (not fake) is that Donald Trump is trying to make conduct of the press the issue instead of egregious (and unhinged) conduct of POTUS [President of the United States].”

Donald Trump is the new Richard Nixon – without the brains

Bernstein’s tweets appear to be a response to Donald Trump calling his journalistic critics “enemies of the people”.

This itself followed a chaotic press conference in which Trump called the assembled journalists dishonest, accused a Jewish reporter of lying and ordered him to sit down, and told a black reporter asking about the Congressional Black Caucus: “Are they friends of yours?  Set up a meeting.”

While the President’s press conference performance was widely mocked, his enemies of the people comment drew comparisons with despots like Stalinand Mao Zedong who had a habit of using the phrase about opponents shortly before they died or “disappeared”.

Trump is far from being the first US President to attack the media.  As far back as 1807 President Thomas Jefferson was complaining: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Nixon was also notorious for his hatred of the press.  He publicly raged against “distorted” and “hysterical” reporting, and in December 1972, while being pursued by journalists including Bernstein over Watergate, he privately told Henry Kissinger that the press was the “enemy”.

No US Presidents before Trump, however, are thought to have gone as far as publicly declaring sections of the media “enemies of the people”, and Bernstein has repeatedly alleged that Trump’s paranoia, attacks on the press and “factless madness” are worse than Nixon’s.

RantNRave
RantNRave

 "More...Trump: I don't know where anti-Semitism is coming from. RELATED: @POTUS aide flashes "white power" hand signs on TV

White power sign.....W.....P"


@Jezel


I dare him to go to the hood and flash


the "white power" hand signs.


No one would recognize him afterwards.


If  he makes it out alive.


heeheehee

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Pay attention America, pay close attention to the Trump humpers and their policy of deflection.  Coincidence?  


How Do You Say 'Drain the Swamp' in Chinese?

FEB 17, 2017 
Donald Trump got his good name back earlier this week. On Tuesday, China gave the president new trademark protections for his business operations there, something that the Trump Organization had been pursuing unsuccessfully for about a decade

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-17/trump-s-china-trademark-victory-raises-conflict-of-interest-issue

Paul42
Paul42

Do you understand hypocrisy now, cons?  Especially since you made it a major issue for the previous president?

"White House forced to reverse course on Trump’s golfing"

"For the third consecutive weekend, Donald Trump has headed south, spending time at his private club in South Florida, where the president appears to enjoy golfing. And while that ordinarily wouldn’t be especially notable – just about every modern president has enjoyed hitting the links – with Trump, nothing is ever easy.


THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, 2/16/17, 9:13 PM ETTrump not delivering on promised 'winning'Because Trump complained bitterly for years about President Obama’s golfing, the Republican’s aides are a little touchy about the subject, to the point that they’ve begun shading the truth a bit. Politico reported this afternoon:

After initially saying Trump had only played a few holes, the White House reversed itself Monday after professional golfer Rory McIlroy posted on his website that he had played 18 holes with the president.

“As stated yesterday the President played golf. He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Monday.





I’ll gladly concede that this White House’s falsehoods are so numerous, giving deceptive information about the president’s golf game hardly registers. For that matter, the president’s own lies are often so serious, it’s hard to get too worked up about this latest misstep.

But even with those caveats in mind, it’s an odd thing to lie about..."  (continued)

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/white-house-forced-reverse-course-trumps-golfing?cid=eml_mra_20170221



gotalife
gotalife

trump grew government on immigration. More waste.

gotalife
gotalife

Ban playing partisan politics of hate would solve a lot of problems.

It would also unite a lot of Americans. 


Media creates a lot of division too with war on everything and playing politics with everything.

gotalife
gotalife

spicer snl skit coming up.


conway is mia.

rimsky
rimsky

@gotalife Even according to Trump's standards she is a total FU.

gotalife
gotalife

Amazing, the leader of Israel bowed down for a anti semite.

gotalife
gotalife

Fire bannon, sessions and gorka to end the attacks on Jews trump.


Talk is cheap.

rimsky
rimsky

@gotalife Who is the gorka fella.  NPR interviewed him Twice and seemed to be a RW flunky.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@rimsky @gotalife  Sebastian Gorka.  Born in the UK.  Plagiarized parts of his PhD dissertation.  Worked for the Hungarian Ministry of Defense for 5 years prior to coming to the US.  Wore a medal associated with the anti-Semitic Horthy regime at one of the inaugural balls.  His most recent job before the WH was with Breitbart.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@td1234 @PaulinNH  Breitbart defends own reporter shock!  Same Breitbart that hasn't said a word about the racist troll it employs that promotes pedophilia.

td1234
td1234

@StraightNoChaser Meaningless drivel. Most of the Historians that will write about and rank Obama and GWB have not even completed college yet since it will be up to 70 years before all the archives are released for research. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@StraightNoChaser


Wow. G. H. Bush made top 20. He only served one term. But I guess the success in Desert storm gave him the nods. Other then that list seems reasonable to me. Note I am not a historian so i don't know much of the lesser presidents

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@td1234 @StraightNoChaser It's not meaningless drivel for current history.  History books are updated every year to include current history.  You should know that being the historian that you profess to be. 

td1234
td1234

@StraightNoChaser @td1234 And you really believe this meaningless poll will make it in one of those new history books? LOL


It sure will not make it in the history books that most of the southern states take that goes through Texas approval process. 

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@td1234 @StraightNoChaser One thing about it, I will be picking a new history book before you do so I will let you know then.  As a matter of fact I already have history books that include G Bush and Barack Obama.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@StraightNoChaser Try to keep up, will you?

I posted reference to this last week.

It's all BS.

FDR 3rd and Obama 12th with Reagan 9th.

It's from liberal historians.

Both FDR and Obama had problems with the Constitution holding them back. 

JFK is more romance than reality.

And LBJ needs to be off the bottom, out of sight.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@StraightNoChaser

I don't understand why Kennedy ranks so high. Sure, he had promise, but in the grand scheme of things he didn't achieve all that much, presidency-wise.

I'd also argue that Reagan's true legacy (ie, the conservative freak show we have now and the persistence of trickle down) is a net negative.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @StraightNoChaser


FDR presided over the Great Depression and WW2. Served more terms then any other president.


He is top 5. Just because historians feel that way does not make them liberal. The greatest generation were coming of age while he was president.

Corey
Corey

@JohnnyReb @StraightNoChaser I lived through Reagan. Do you want to have all of the Reagan scandals and the terrorist attacks that occurred while he was POTUS revisited? I didn't think so. You do realize Reagan came close to being impeached regarding the Iran-Contra Affair don't you? We also went from being a creditor nation to being a debtor nation. All of this is just a mouse click away.

gotalife
gotalife

wolf finally woke up his party hates him.


There is no bigger Israel supporter than wolf blitzer.