Trump’s Russia Problem Goes MUCH Deeper Than Flynn’s Phone Calls
A Recipe For Collusion: Trump’s — And His Associates’ — Ties To Russia
What we have here is an orchestrated effort by a foreign power to undermine a democracy and prop up a presidential candidate. We also have multiple individuals who communicated with this foreign power during the time period this foreign power was undergoing its efforts to undermine the very democracy these individuals were participating in. Those individuals happened to be working for the presidential candidate that this foreign power was actively working to aid. That candidate went on to win.
This is not the plot of a screenplay. That is the story of Russia, the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election. A story that Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has brought back into the spotlight.
Michael Flynn has been under fire after reports revealed he discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in December. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported:
Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.
The New York Times corroborated the report.
Ambassador Kislyak would not confirm the content of the conversations, but he did confirm that the communications did indeed take place. Kislyak added that communications between him and Michael Flynn were ongoing, and occurred both during the transition and before Nov 8th.
The Washington Post reported that late last month Sally Yates, acting Attorney General at the time, informed the White House that Flynn is potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
This comes after Vice President Mike Pence denied that Michael Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak ever spoke about sanctions. Kellyanne Conway on Monday said, “Gen. Flynn has the full confidence of the president.”
After these reports and mounting pressure, Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor on Monday night.
This news comes amid CNN reports that some of the communications that were detailed in the explosive dossier alleging that Russia has compromising information on President Trump, have been corroborated.
Flynn’s communications with Russia during and after the election broach broader questions concerning whether or not the Trump campaign was aware of or participated in Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
These developments do not look good for President Trump, who has had the legitimacy of his election victory questioned after the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded Russia’s hacks on Democratic organizations, and spread of propaganda, were in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump.
There has also been suspicions that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials, given the fact that Trump’s former associates (Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page) are currently under federal investigation for communications and financial ties to Russia. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko confirmed that there had been contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign throughout the election. It was also recently reported that there was constant communication between high level advisors in Trump’s campaign and Russian officials throughout the course of the election, and that those communications have been intercepted by U.S. officials.
In light of this, it is not only important to understand the methods Russia used when attempting to help elect Donald Trump, but also whether or not the Trump campaign was involved.
What is laid out below is not opinion. These are merely facts, relayed to provide the full picture and make the point that there are questions the president must answer to the American people.
Here are some of the ties between Trump’s associates and Russia. And also the Russian ties of the 45th President of The United States:
Former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor: Carter Page
Carter Page is the founder of Global Energy Capital, an investment firm in New York that has done business with Russia. He is under investigation for communications with Russia.
Two weeks before the Republican convention in early July, Carter Page visited Moscow and disparaged U.S. policy. After a Yahoo News report published the details of this trip in September, the Trump campaign made Page take a “leave of absence” from the campaign. A leave he never returned from.
Two interesting parts of this Yahoo report were that Page met with the chairman of the Russian owned oil company Rosneft, and may have discussed sanctions. Page also reportedly met with the person responsible for the intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election:
U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.” (The Treasury announcement described Sechin as “utterly loyal to Vladimir Putin — a key component to his current standing.” At their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page, the Western intelligence source said.
U.S. intelligence agencies have also received reports that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow — Igor Diveykin. A former Russian security official, Diveykin now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, the Western intelligence source said.
The reason why those parts of the Yahoo report are so interesting, is that it aligns with the dossier. The dossier mentioned the meeting with Page and “that the Rosneft President was so keen to lift personal and corporate Western sanctions imposed on the company, that he offered Page and his associates the brokerage of up to a 19 percent (privatized) stake in Rosneft.”
This is very important because as Business Insider reports:
Rosneft…ultimately signed a deal that was similar to the one the dossier described: On December 7, the oil company sold 19.5% of shares, worth roughly $11 billion, to the multinational commodity trader Glencore Plc and Qatar’s state-owned wealth fund. Page was back in Moscow on December 8, one day after the deal was signed, to “meet with some of the top managers” of Rosneft, he told reporters at the time.
Former Trump Campaign Advisor: Roger Stone
Roger Stone boasted about being in regular contact with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, through “mutual friends.” This boast appeared to be validated by his eerie knowledge of upcoming Wikileaks centering around Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails. Several months before it occurred, Stone spoke of an October surprise involving Podesta, that would disrupt Clinton’s campaign.
The U.S. Intelligence Community considers the emails leaked from Wikileaks as part of the Russian effort to help elect Donald Trump.
Former Trump Campaign Manager: Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort reportedly received millions in cash while representing a pro-Russian politician in the Ukraine:
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.
In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Manafort worked to rebuild Yanukovych’s image and was reportedly “identified as organizing a series of anti-NATO and anti-Kiev demonstrations in Crimea in 2006 — demonstrations that forced the cancellation of scheduled ‘Sea Breeze’ NATO exercises on that strategic Ukrainian peninsula, which now is occupied and annexed by Russia.”
Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager before being fired after reports of his foreign ties. Manafort’s ousting may not have fully severed his influence with Trump, seeing how he lives on the 43rd floor of Trump Tower.
Secretary Of State: Rex Tillerson
Although Rex Tillerson had no reported involvement with the Trump campaign during the time period when Russia was attempting to prop him up, his relationship with Russia and Rosneft had to be mentioned in this piece.
Rex W. Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon Mobil before he was chosen to be President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State.
Tillerson is also the 2013 recipient of Russia’s Order of Friendship award.
Tillerson has had a wildly successful career in business, but has no experience in the public sector. This is a first for a Secretary of State. At Exxon, Tillerson cultivated and maintained countless business relationships with nations around the globe, including Russia.
Tillerson negotiated a 2011 energy partnership with Russia that Putin said could eventually be worth as much as $500 billion.
In 2014, Tillerson’s growth in Russia was frozen by tougher sanctions imposed on Russia. That year, the United States prohibited the exchange of offshore and shale oil technology to Russia, and announced that Exxon had to end offshore drilling assistance to Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. These sanctions were imposed in an effort to apply economic pressure on Russia in response to their lethal intervention in Ukraine.
U.S. sanctions on Russia has cost Exxon billions in active and future deals. Exxon is unable to collect revenue from an investment in an oil and gas project that operates off Sakhalin Island or develop any new projects in Russia.
With this in mind, it’s obvious why Tillerson was strongly opposed to the sanctions imposed on Russia. Tillerson has made multiple visits to the White House in an effort to ease Russian sanctions. Bloomberg reports that after sanctions were imposed, “Exxon successfully lobbied the administration to give it a two-week reprieve to keep working on the $700 million well in the Kara Sea long enough to cap it for an eventual return. Exxon persuaded U.S. Treasury and Energy Department officials that it couldn’t safely obeythe White House order to halt work by the deadline.”
The New York Times, reports that, “During a question-and-answer period at a Houston conference in early 2015, Mr. Tillerson noted his company looked forward to the sanctions’ being lifted.”
“We’ll await a time in which the sanctions environment changes or the sanctions requirements change,” he said of blocked Exxon Mobil projects.
Tillerson was grilled at his confirmation hearing about these ties to Russia, hearings where Tillerson took a tough stance on Russia.
It is unclear exactly how Tillerson will conduct himself as Secretary of State, but what is clear is that as CEO of Exxon, he really wanted Russian sanctions lifted.
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump’s very pro-Russia assertions have puzzled many.
During his campaign, Trump stated that if he were to be elected President he would consider lifting sanctions against Russia, pulling out of NATO, and recognize their controversial annexation of Crimea. Trump has also been very complimentary of Vladimir Putin, calling him a strong leader and said he would would be willing to work with Russia and Assad in Syria, despite their continuous humanitarian violations in Aleppo and elsewhere.
Before he was President Donald Trump he was Billionaire-businessman Donald Trump, and he enjoyed to tout his relationship with Vladimir Putin.
While he was campaigning, Trump repeatedly denied this relationship existed but words can’t erase history. On many occasions Trump has bragged about having “indirectly and directly” spoken to Putin while he was in Moscow for his Miss Universe Pageant. And on one occasion he appeared to be referencing an ongoing relationship:
When asked, by MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in 2013, if he had a relationship with Putin, Trump’s response was, “I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today. He’s probably very interested in what you and I am saying today, and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form.”
According to the Washington Post, Trump has made numerous trips to Moscow to explore business opportunities and has relied on Russian investors to buy his properties around the world.
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Post-election, Trump was in denial and repeatedly attacked the U.S. Intelligence Community’s conclusion regarding Russia’s interference, and shared remarks from Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, citing him as a source in an effort to bolster his claims that “anyone could be behind the hacks.”
On December 29, President Obama strengthened economic sanctions on Russia in retaliation for their interference in the 2016 election. That same day, Michael Flynn spoke to Russian Ambassador Kislyak about lifting the sanctions. The following day, Donald Trump took to Twitter to compliment Putin for not reacting to the sanctions:
One of the Trump administration’s first actions towards Russia was the U.S. Treasury Department’s easing of those Obama imposed economic sanctions on Russia, “allowing some cyber-security transactions with the Russian Federal Security Service accused of meddling in the U.S. electoral process”
At the moment, it is unclear what the investigations into Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone will conclude.
What we have here is an orchestrated effort by Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government to undermine American democracy and prop up Donald Trump. We also have multiple Americans who communicated with Russia during the time period Russia was executing on their efforts to undermine American democracy. Those Americans happened to be working for the Trump Campaign, which Russia was actively working to aid. Donald Trump went on to win the 2016 election and become the 45th President of The United States.
What we have here is a president who has some serious explaining to do.