I will readily admit that I was never under the impression that Donald Trump personally coordinated with Russian counterparts to influence the 2016 presidential election and hand him the White House. However, I am convinced of the following three key points: (1) it is likely that certain members of the Trump campaign did, indeed, do just that, (2) Trump does have definite financial ties to Russian entities that go back decades and are problematic for various reasons, and (3) to prevent both items one and two above from being exposed for all to see, Trump did attempt to impede and obstruct the investigations underway to determine the levels of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. Further, by doing so he continually obstructs a critical step in preventing the recurrence of this influence in future elections.
Clearly, a president having financial ties to a foreign entity, especially a foreign adversary, though not necessarily illegal, does create certain concerns and raise certain questions that must be addressed.
It is for this reason that transparency is critical. It is for this reason the precedent of presidential candidates sharing their tax returns was established. It is of the utmost importance that decisions made by any U.S. president are not in any way influenced by financial ties with any foreign entity.
It is for this purpose that our founding fathers provided for protections against such ties in the Constitution under Article I, Section 9, Clause 8. Are Trump's decisions, such as not supporting sanctions against Russia for Russian meddling in our election as determined by our intelligence agencies or his softening the Republican platform regarding Russia, influenced by his Russian ties?
Keep in mind his ties to Russia go back decades.
The issue, though, is whether these ties bring with them any expectations or obligations.
Going back decades, he did need backers as he attempted to build a fortune in Atlantic City in the 1980s when legal gambling first came to that city as the East Coast answer to Las Vegas. Did he rely on Russian backers to stake him the money to keep him out of bankruptcy? Since his track record made him a high risk for American investors, did Russia come to his rescue? How does one re-establish billionaire status after near bankruptcy?
To what extent did the Russians come to save him from another bankruptcy and did any of that monetary assistance bring with it a quid pro quo whether stated or implied?
It is to these questions that the independent investigation headed by former F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller will find the answers. While that is what the investigation will determine, it is also what Trump has attempted to undermine at every turn. Clearly Trump not being a student of history, or anything else for that matter, it is these attempts that ultimately will lead to Trump's downfall.
Just as Nixon was brought down, not by the initial Watergate break-in but, rather, by the ensuing cover-up, so, too, will Trump seal his own fate with his attempts to obstruct the investigation. Whether it be former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's alleged discussion of lifting Russian sanctions during the campaign or Don Jr.'s meeting with Russian operatives to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton or even Trump's own financial reliance on Russian oligarchs, Trump's attempts to throw roadblocks that obstruct the investigation's attempts to get to the bottom of the issue is what will certainly be his undoing.
Former F.B.I. Director James Comey may have indicated that Trump, himself, was not the target of the investigation, but that, of course, was prior to Comey's firing. That firing was, as Trump himself revealed, a direct result of “the Russia thing”. So, Trump may not have been investigated before the Comey firing, but there should be no doubt that that very action changed the game. More than that, every time Trump takes to the podium to undermine the investigation by calling it fake or a hoax, he further attempts to impede the investigation by attacking its credibility.
Russian meddling in our election is an attack on our democratic ideals and the leader of our country, the president, should be leading the charge to ensure that such an attack never happens again.
The fact that he continually tries to defend Russia instead of doing everything in his power to take action to ensure such an attack never happens again should be a concern for every American as they should wonder what he is trying to hide. It is important to understand that there is ordinarily no need to lie if there is nothing to hide.
Yet, this president lies all of the time especially as it relates to Russia and his connection to it.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he has no connections with Russia. He tweeted on January 11th, for example, “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
He tweeted this lie despite the fact that there already was quite a bit of evidence that Trump made a fortune marketing and selling properties to Russians, he had made something like $12 million from the Miss Universe contest held in Moscow in 2013, and, most significantly, as reported recently by the Washington Post, on October 28, 2015 he signed a letter of intent with a Russian firm to build Trump Tower in Russia at the very time he was campaigning for the presidency of the United States. Could this proposed business deal have anything to do with Trump praising Putin throughout the election campaign since no deal in Russia gets done without Putin's blessing? You decide for yourself.
Again, the issue isn't even whether having a business connection with Russia is illegal. The issue is about having a president who continually lies to the American people. Would revealing these financial connections during the campaign have been detrimental to Trump's election?
I think so. So, back to square one: transparency of our political leaders is critical if they are ever to garner any level of trust. This president has set back trust in elected officials generations.
I will agree with one thing said by this president. I never did see a Russian in West Virginia, Ohio or Pennsylvania. Of course no one, and I mean no one, ever said that the Russian hacking of our databases or influencing our election had or needed to have any physical presence in each state.
I will also say, however, that I am fairly certain that there have been Russian sightings in Atlantic City not to mention Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, and Coney Island, Brooklyn which just happens to be the location of Trump Village Co-ops which was built not by Donald but by Fred Trump – could the Russian connection go back generations?
It is these possible connections that may warrant some scrutiny by the team of Mueller investigators and ultimately lead to revealing all that Trump has attempted to hide from the public.