Russiagate: The plot thickens—again
President Trum p’s “Russia problems are getting worse,” said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. Even before ousted FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, evidence was growing that Russia has some strange hold over the Trump administration. Upon entering office, Yahoo News reported, Trump’s team “immediately set out to lift sanctions against Russia”—a stunning reversal of U.S. policy that was blocked by the State Department and key congressional leaders. In another alarming news story, The Washington Post reported that the White House is currently working to return two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S. that the Obama administration seized as punishment for Moscow’s alleged election interference. With new details of Trump-Russia connections emerging every week, including Jared Kushner’s attempt to set up secret, back-channel communications with the Kremlin, it’s getting harder “to maintain that these are isolated, innocuous events.” At what point do congressional Republicans “defend national security and turn against the president and the princeling?”
“Democrats are making a big mistake by obsessing over Russia,” said Matt Latimer in Politico.com.
It’s possible that the investigations into the Russia-Trump contacts will turn up a smoking gun of collusion. But Russia is all Democrats want to talk about, because they have no agenda of their own to offer. Politicizing the investigation and feeding out a steady stream of leaks, however, “severely jeopardizes the legitimacy of any potential prosecution.” So far most of what we know about alleged Trump-Russia ties comes from anonymous sources identified as “current and former U.S. officials,’’ said Jim Geraghty in NationalReview.com. Are these Obama holdovers, or other bureaucrats with an anti-Trump agenda? “Yes, reporters trust their unnamed sources. But should readers?”
What a pity this has all become such a partisan issue, said Robert Schlesinger in USNews.com. It’s indisputable that “a hostile power launched a brazen attack on our political system.” Indeed, a newly leaked NSA report reveals Russian hackers tried to hack into U.S. voting systems days before the election. These assaults on our democracy should concern all Americans, whether or not Russia had “the complicity of the Trump campaign.” If the Russians get away with this aggression, they’ll do it again. “Hit us once, shame on them; hit us a second time, shame on us.”