Trump and Russia: Unanswered questions
Putin: A strange hold on Trump(Newscom)
The Mueller report did not answer “the most haunting question of the Trump era,” said David Frum in TheAtlantic.com. Why did Russia undertake such a massive—and “possibly decisive”—campaign to get Donald Trump elected? To intervene so brazenly in the presidential election of a rival power, the Kremlin “must have expected some very big payoff.” Trump’s shady business dealings in Russia and with Russian oligarchs go back decades, fueling suspicions that Trump is financially beholden to Moscow, or that Vladimir Putin holds “compromising information about him.” During the campaign, Trump lied repeatedly about his efforts build a hotel in Moscow—indicating “his other denials are equally dubious.” He has adamantly refused to release his tax returns. But for some reason, Mueller decided not to tell us anything about the president’s personal finances. We still need to know: “What does the president owe, and to whom does he owe it?”
Enough with the conspiracy theories, said Byron York in The Washington Examiner. Mueller’s probe was focused on one question: “Did the Trump campaign conspire, coordinate, or collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election?” The special counsel’s answer is a definitive no. Remember the Steele dossier? The unverified info dump—paid for in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign—alleged the Russians had kompromat on Trump from his business trips to Moscow, including the fabled “pee tape” supposedly showing Trump with prostitutes. “Some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false,” the report says. “Others were impossible to prove.” Mueller did his job. Accept his findings.
So how do you explain the president’s “bizarre and inexplicable behavior” toward Russia? asked Seth Hettena in the Los Angeles Times. The Mueller report says Trump panicked when the special counsel was appointed, saying, “This is the end of my presidency. I’m f---ed.” He then proceeded to undermine and attack the Russia investigation at every turn. Since taking office, Trump has also embraced a wish list of Russian policy positions, including undermining NATO. His obsequiousness toward Putin was so disturbing that top intelligence officials worried that he might at least be an “unwitting agent” of the Kremlin. We’ve all seen with our own eyes that Putin exerts a strange hold over America’s president, said Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post. What is it? “We might never know.” ■