As yesterday's final post indicated, there appears to be growing evidence that while Republican elected officials at all levels were prostituting themselves to Donald Trump and his basket of deplorables base, at Vladimir Putin personal direction Russia was compiling it blackmail dossier to use against Trump once he was elected with Russian intervention. But even worse, there is growing concern that the Trump campaign - and perhaps Trump himself - coordinated with Russian efforts to throw the election to Trump and undermine American democracy itself. A piece in Politico looks at the reality of what some members of Congress are reluctantly in some case beginning to have to face. Here are highlights:
Members of Congress made clear Tuesday they're increasingly willing to broach a taboo topic: possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Their emboldened approach comes amid a bombshell CNN report that intelligence officials last week presented Trump with alleged claims by Russian operatives that they have compromising information on the president-elect. According to CNN, Trump was also presented with allegations there was an "exchange of information" during the campaign between his surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Trump responded Tuesday night with an emphatic all-caps tweet: "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"
The subject is one lawmakers have largely avoided discussing since the presidential election, even as anti-Trump advocacy groups have sounded alarm bells about the president-elect.
But that changed Tuesday, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's meddling in November's election.
The hearing followed Friday's release of an unclassified version of an intelligence community investigation into Russia's interference in the election, which said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence operation to undermine Hillary Clinton and help Trump.
During the intelligence hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) noted the extensive ties between Trump advisers and the Russian government and pointed to an interview shortly after the election in which a top Russian diplomat said his government had had "contacts" with the Trump campaign.
Wyden then asked FBI Director James Comey, "Has the FBI investigated these reported relationships, and, if so, what are the agency's findings?"
Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, saying he could not comment publicly about such matters. His response raised some eyebrows among Democrats and led to a biting response from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine): "The irony of your making that statement here, I cannot avoid, but I'll move on."
During his exchange with Comey, Wyden urged the FBI director to provide an unclassified answer to his question before Inauguration Day, saying the American people "have a right to know" whether the FBI is investigating possible ties between the Trump team and Russia. "If it doesn't happen before January 20th," Wyden said, "I'm not sure it's going to happen."
And the intelligence panel's ranking member, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), said the committee's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election should look specifically at possible coordination between the presidential campaigns and the Russian government.
"In my view, our committee investigation should focus on three broad areas," he said, before listing them: "The Russian hacking and release of stolen information; Russia's use of state-owned media and other means to amplify real and fake news to further their goal; and contact between the Russian government and its agents, and associates of any campaign and candidate."
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also discussed the possibility of an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, suggesting that a probe might already be underway. . . . Graham said he does not know whether there's an active FBI investigation but made clear he wants a congressional investigation into every aspect of Russia's election meddling.
Since the election, lawmakers have largely sought to avoid making statements that would appear to question Trump’s legitimacy.
But during the campaign, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a letter to Comey, "it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government," urging Comey to make the information public.
Now, some anti-Trump groups are seeking to raise awareness about the Trump camp's ties to Russia.
"Whether Trump's pandering to Putin is a result of Trump's potential ties to Russian investors, impending business deals, or simply gratitude for Russia's hacking on his behalf — it's clear that Trump for some reason feels beholden to Putin," said the group's president, Jessica Mackler. "It's a disgrace that Republicans are capitulating to Trump and standing by Trump's attacks on the U.S. intelligence community and defense of Putin."
Until it is definitively proven otherwise, I will continue to believe that at best Trump is selling out America due to blackmail pressure from Vladimir Putin. Worse case, Trump could well be a full blown traitor. If the later is true, I hope he is exposed, tried for treason and sentence accordingly.