Exactly one year ago, the U.S. intelligence community released a groundbreaking report that in effect said there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: the Trump campaign and a Russian campaign. All 17 agencies that make up the IC unanimously concluded that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” with “a clear preference” for Donald Trump. In the face of knowledge Russia hacked America’s election—and could very well do so again—the Trump administration still refuses to act. When news of the report first broke, he railed against the intelligence community, attempted to discredit the report and has consistently maintained that a “Deep State” conspiracy of government officials is out to get him. While the report identified many issues for the first time, in the year since its release reporting and public research has since corroborated and reaffirmed the intelligence community’s findings.
There’s only one explanation for Paul Ryan’s behavior: he is working to protect Trump and undermine the Mueller investigation. CNN reported that on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray met with Ryan to ask him to turn off a subpoena from Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee for sensitive FBI documents that could jeopardize the Russia investigation. Instead, Ryan green-lit a political fishing expedition from the guy who had to briefly recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he was literally coordinating with the White House.
The Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election has survived the holiday season and fears that, while the country was distracted, the White House would make a move to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While Mueller’s job is secure for the time being, his investigation is under increasing pressure as the President’s allies in Congress and the media ramp up their campaign to discredit the former FBI Director. The latest effort is Devin Nunes’s attempt to draft a report on “corruption” within Mueller’s team. This follows a string of similar attempts to sling mud at Mueller, including calls for his recusal or resignation; accusations that the investigation illegally collected transition emails ; and claims from Fox News commentators suggesting the Special Counsel is plotting a “ coup in America ” or an assassination attempt. A very troubling trend is emerging: these are the very same style of tactics used by the Kremlin and other authoritarian governments.
As Bannon and Trump take their feud public, it’s important not to overlook the New York Times Papadopoulos piece from last week. It answers the question of why the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. But Papadopoulos’s revelations weren’t the first the FBI heard on the subject; rather, he seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We cannot rule out the possibility that the president of the United States of America is an agent – witting or unwitting – of a hostile foreign power. For those who pay close attention to the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, this is a genuine prospect. For Americans, this is a threat to democracy. For U.S. allies, a grave concern. For adversaries, an opportunity. Countries are hedging against the increasingly unpredictable – and dangerous – United States under President Donald Trump. In my years in the State Department, I read thousands of "cables" – private messages reporting on politics sent from U.S. embassies to the State Department. I can only imagine what foreign diplomats in Washington are writing to their leaders at home. Let's try.
Congressional Republicans have blocked, stone-walled, or deflected every effort to investigate or respond to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The pattern of Republican obstruction is clear. At every step of the way, Republicans in Congress have conspired to shield President Donald Trump from a thorough investigation of the attack. As Robert Kagan warned months ago, congressional Republicans are effectively acting as “Russia’s accomplices.”
Mueller is coming. The investigation into Trump campaign coordination with Russia appears to be closing in on the president. The three indictments earlier this month of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy, Rick Gates; and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos show that Robert Mueller is inside Trump’s campaign. The indictment and plea agreement of former national security adviser Michael Flynn now puts the investigation into the White House.