The list of people connected to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or to his administration that were in frequent communication with the Russians just keeps growing longer.
Remember Paul Manafort, who actually worked for pro-Russian groups and then became Trump’s campaign manager? He was forced out because of that.
Then there is Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, who was forced to resign because he met with the Russian ambassador and lied about it.
Next is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the nation’s top cop. He met with the same Russian as Flynn, more than once, and also lied about it. And until he recused himself, would have been in charge of investigating and prosecuting those contacts and lies.
But wait, there’s more! Now we find out that Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner also had meetings with (yet again) the same Russian. And more Trump aides, national security advisors J.D. Gordon, Carter Page, and Walid Phares, also met with the Russian ambassador.
Why in hell did so many Trump people feel the need to meet with the Russian ambassador? Especially during the presidential campaign or just after it?
And their excuses are so weak. Sessions claims that his meetings with the Russian ambassador were done in his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee. When he denied ever meeting with the Russians, he was speaking about Trump surrogate Sessions, not Senator Sessions. Even if we accept his crazy multiple-personality defense, Sessions was the only member of that committee who had any such meetings. Why?
Even worse for Sessions, it turns out that the trip that Sessions made when he talked to the Russians was paid for with campaign funds rather than Senate committee funds. If he was acting on behalf of the Armed Services committee, why didn’t they pay for it?
It also looks really bad that the only reason we know about any of these numerous contacts with the Russians is because of leaks from the intelligence community, including the FBI and CIA. Leaks that Trump attacked, which only serves to substantiate them.
And speaking of Trump, his response to this mess was the following:
This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election and now, they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total witch hunt!
Given Trump’s role in the birther scandal and the total farce of the Benghazi investigations, which turned into the (ongoing!) Clinton email server investigation, and the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play investigation, I would think that Trump would know a witch hunt when he sees one.
Trump also has an ally in condemning the questions about collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians — the Russian foreign minister said “I can cite the media that say all this is very much reminiscent of a witch hunt and the McCarthyism era which we all thought was long gone.” The Russians are following the Trumpian pattern of not denying or refuting the accusations, but instead attacking anyone who asks questions.
Why can’t Trump just admit that this looks really really bad? We already have more than one smoking gun in that both Manafort and Flynn had to resign over their relationship with the Russians. Wouldn’t it be terribly bad for our democracy if the Trump campaign did conspire with the Russians to throw our presidential election? Shouldn’t they want to clear this up instead of making weak excuses and acting defensively?
But why take my word for it, when you can see video of Trump and his surrogates repeatedly putting both feet in their mouths trying to deny that there is any there there. Plus get some wonderful humor from both Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert. Both are worth a “closer look”: