Looking Into the Russia Connection
The drip, drip dripping of inconvenient revelations continue to plague the new administration.
The Russian connection has undergone a new round of scrutiny this week, with the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath about whether or not he had contact with the Russian ambassador to the US during the campaign. The ambassador has been seen as a key link between the Trump administration and the Russian government. This is now the second cabinet member to come under fire due to failing to disclose conversations with him.
Sessions appears to be in serious hot water here, especially after his lackluster explanation that he simply didn’t recall meeting the ambassador, even after the firing of General Flynn. This is all a part of an ongoing FBI investigation, but the matter at hand here is whether Sessions commited perjury.
Furthermore, by rescuing himself from all investigations into the campaign’s ties to Russia, he cripples the opportunity to stop any investigation into this matter. The Democrats are smelling blood here for sure. But are they getting help from a more insidious element?
This is a vastly complex issue, one that requires a ‘deep dive” approach. Philip Bump of The Washington Post published an in-depth analysis of all of the players in this saga. He takes a step back and examines the big picture, mapping out all of the connections and relationships involved:
In the most abstract sense, there is nothing noteworthy about a government official meeting with an ambassador from a foreign country. When such an interaction becomes important is when that official is an ally of a presidential campaign that’s got a complex set of possibly inappropriate relationships with other representatives of that ambassador’s country — and when that official while under oath says he did not have communications with representatives of that country.
Mr. Bump is the first to point out that none of these relationships prove wrongdoing in any way, but rather help provide context to the broader narrative of whether or not there is a connection between Trump and the Russians
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow took the plunge into the connections between Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev and president Trump, hinging on a real estate deal between the two. The connection was made through Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (pictured above). She theorizes the sale was a way to transfer a large sum of money from Rybolovlev, who has ties to Putin, to Trump. This is a very interesting angle, and I highly recommend watching her report, it is very thought provoking.
These links deserve serious attention, and thanks to work like this, they are getting it. Specifically targeted, in-depth investigations are the way to get to heart of this matter.
A New Cold War?
Are we witnessing the Washington establishment fighting back and going rouge against Trump’s failure to play ball? Robert Parry of Consortium News thinks so:
There is a grave danger in playing partisan “gotcha” over U.S. relations with the world’s other major nuclear superpower. If President Trump finds himself having to demonstrate how tough he can be on Russia — to save his political skin — he could easily make a miscalculation that could push the two countries into a war that could truly be the war to end all wars – along with ending human civilization. But Democrats, liberals and the mainstream news media seem to hate Trump so much they will take that risk.
I will certainly agree that the climate in Washington seems to be one of hysteria, and anonymous leaks from nefarious intelligence agencies are not enough to render a guilty verdict, as vile as Trump and his goons are.
That does not mean that there is nothing to see here, but at this point, the evidence is still unclear.
Making the Case
A more thorough investigation into this matter is certainly warranted. It remains to be seen whether that will come from a special committee or law enforcement channels. However the case proceeds, it should be built on a solid foundation of evidence, with specific investigations into all facets of the issue, rather than some broad overarching thesis that “Russia hacked our election.” The narrative will establish itself accordingly if built on a foundation of facts, writes Paul Rosenzweig of Lawfare:
But in the end — and this is the important point — the overarching thesis isn’t necessary. Each of the sub-units of investigation stands on its own and only if a solid foundation is constructed will the arch stand. Perhaps none of the inquiries will prove out — one certainly hopes so for the country’s sake! But only if they do does the overarching question become interesting.
This is how the Russian connection will ultimately be exposed, if in fact there was any wrongdoing. For the time being, it certainly looks like there is something there. These connections will be scrutinized further, and the case will continue to mount until the facts are made plain.
If this is the administrations’ Watergate, these facts must come out in a court of law. But we cannot convict on innuendo, even if it is Donald Trump who is on trial.