It’ll be really hard for Donald Trump to distance himself from Russia with all the reports coming in that detail his friendliness to one of America’s biggest adversaries. Before the inauguration, Trump fought fiercely to dispel accusations that Russia may be in a position to blackmail him during his presidency. But then came the revelation that national security adviser Michael Flynn talked to Russian officials when he shouldn’t have and then lied about it to vice president Mike Pence.
New information suggests that not only did Trump know about Flynn’s conversations, but that he had “no problem” with them. Furthermore, it appears that Trump senior aides including Flynn were in constant contact with Russian officials throughout the campaign.
According to CNN, high-level advisers including Flynn and former chairman Paul Manafort were communicating with Russian nationals with some regularity. It’s not unusual for campaign staff to talk to other foreign governments, But the frequency of this type of communication coming from senior members of the Trump campaign “raised a red flag” with US intelligence and law enforcements.
Apparently, the communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection operations targeting Russian officials and other nationals. They were not targeting Trump’s people.
Intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election suggest the Russian believed they had special access to Trump, the report notes.
Manafort denied having talked to Russians known to US intelligence. As for Flynn, he already admitted to having lied about his dealings with the Russians earlier this week.
After Trump won, these communications have been the subject of intelligence briefings on Russia’s interference in the US elections.
It’s unclear at this time why these parties talked so much to each other, and the FBI and US intelligence agencies continue to investigate the matter. One concern is that Trump associates may have coordinated with Russian intelligence over the release of information that would hurt Hillary Clinton following the Russian hacks on the Democratic party.
How much did Trump know? A report in The Huffington Post explains that the president was already aware of Flynn’s lie. He had “no problem” with Flynn talking to the Russians, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Spicer also said that Trump never asked Flynn to discuss sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, Spicer insisted that Flynn did not break any laws. Instead he only broke the trust of his bosses.
It’s really unclear why Trump didn’t take “immediate, decisive action,” that was “unbelievably decisive” against Flynn the minute he received the intelligence briefs. He learned about Flynn’s lie in late January.
It’s worth noting that Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador a day before President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for its role in the US elections. Did Trump know about this particular chat at the time it happened?