Friday, April 28, 2017

100 Days of Russiagate and No End in Sight


With almost no accomplishments to show 100 days into his misrule, Trump has managed to do something few presidents have done so quickly: trigger and on going FBI investigation and four Congressional investigations into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence operatives and thus the Kremlin to throw the 2016 election to Trump.  It's about the only "huge" thing Der Trumpenf├╝hrer has managed and the good news is that there is no end in sight for the Russiagate investigations which, I personally hope will find collusion and treason and end the Trump/Pence nightmare for the country.  A piece at CNN looks at the ongoing saga (read the whole piece):
Russia's influence is currently the subject of four separate congressional probes, and has led to the resignation of the national security adviser and the recusal of the attorney general for the Justice Department investigation into the matter.
The steady drip of leaks coming from intelligence sources familiar with the federal investigation has turned into a consistent stream of embarrassing news for the new administration.
As the Trump White House heads into the 100th day, House and Senate investigators are on a slow, methodical track, pulling together the many threads of Russia's ties to a core group of Trump's top advisers, all of which promises to extend the steady stream of news related Russia much farther into the President's term.
The White House has consistently argued there is no connection between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. In an amusing exchange during his daily briefing last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer made the point that overzealous reporters are seeking something that doesn't exist.
The Russia investigations stand at a juncture now -- with questions of whether they will turn out more like Watergate, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon (a president Trump is often compared to stylistically) or closer to Whitewater -- a fiasco which harangued President Bill Clinton through his first term in office, but ended with no criminal charges against the president.
The one thing that is certain is this cloud of Russia questions is not moving from over the administration any time soon.
The very run-up to Trump's 100-Day mark was dominated by news first that former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law by not disclosing payments from RT-TV on his security clearance application -- a revelation not from the House intelligence committee, but instead the House oversight committee.
We've already seen this coverup behavior for the last few months: the number of people who met with Russians who didn't disclose it, the information that we've asked for -- whether it's Flynn, or Sessions, or Kushner -- that they won't turn over is concerning."
The White House has distanced itself from the four major targets of both the FBI probe and Congressional investigators -- Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and former Trump aide Roger Stone.
Veteran congressional investigators say the best answer is to simply not fight the inquiries, by either withholding documents or distracting. . . . . The White House does not appear to heeding at least some of that advice, telling the House oversight committee earlier this week that for several reasons it would not be handing over documents they requested related to Flynn.
The peril for the Trump administration is that it now faces not just an active FBI investigation, but two major, functioning Congressional probes and additional inquiries -- all churning slowly in quiet, digging deeper into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian operatives.
Meanwhile, outside the Capitol, "Tax Returns!" has become a chant in rowdy town hall meetings where Democratic and Republican lawmakers are bombarded with questions about Trump's financial holdings that, progressive activists say, could easily show Trump's own ties to Russia.
So far, Republicans in the House and Senate have resisted calls to subpoena Trump's tax returns. But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has noted that, if Democrats win back the House in 2018, they could easily seek his tax returns.
The 100-Day benchmark is typically a victory lap for a new administration -- but the parade of Russia stories from this fledgling White House and the outstanding questions -- almost guarantees the story far away from its ending.

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