Whether or not Russia meddled in the election is no longer a question. Indeed, they launched a broad campaign that was as obvious as it was ambitious: They hacked the email accounts of many officials, attacked the voting process in states, sowed propaganda on social media on via state-owned outlets, and released carefully timed information through intelligence assets like Wikileaks.
Therefore, the real question is now whether the Trump administration’s many contacts and ties to the Russian government and Russian business resulted in collusion. A quid pro quo, “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement for the presidency would very likely be criminal. The question is, what does Trump offer? Is Trump doing anything to benefit Russia?
What about defying Congress and refusing to enact a bill he’s already signed into law? Because that’s exactly what Trump did. And now, a Trump transition official has been caught in an email admitting that Russia threw the election to Trump, and also that opposition to sanctions on Russia is a result of that. K.T. McFarland, who went on to become the Deputy National Security Advisor until she stepped down in April, is probably going to grow to regret that email.
First, pressure from his campaign resulted in a change to the Republican platform regarding Russia, removing weapons support for Ukraine. Ukraine, a NATO ally, had part of its territory seized and annexed by Russia. After that, Russian troops entered eastern Ukraine and threw the region into chaos. Wearing no insignia and denying being Russian troops, they fomented unrest and sparked a civil war.
Republicans, at Trump’s support, softened their language on Ukraine.
Second, Trump has consistently been against sanctions against Russia for their election interference. After a bill was passed with a veto-proof majority to sanction Russia, Trump was pretty much forced into signing it. Yet even then, he delayed as long as he could, waiting more than four weeks after the deadline before even beginning to follow the law.
Now, we know why.
According to fresh information from The New York Times, a senior Trump advisor – the previously unnamed advisor directly involved with emails to Flynn – admitted that the Trump campaign’s opposition to sanctions was specifically tied to the help they received in the 2016 election. K.T. McFarland, in an email to a colleague, indicated that the sanctions would complicate the relationship with Russia, which had “thrown the U.S.A. election to [Trump}.”
‘Emails among top transition officials, provided or described to The New York Times, suggest that Mr. Flynn was far from a rogue actor. In fact, the emails, coupled with interviews and court documents filed on Friday, showed that Mr. Flynn was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia.
‘On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump’s victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times.
‘“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote.
‘Mr. Bossert replied by urging all the top advisers to “defend election legitimacy now.”
‘Mr. Flynn, who had been fired by Mr. Obama as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the point person for the transition team on policy toward Russia and other countries. After Mr. Trump named him as his national security adviser in November, Mr. Flynn began briefing him — some say daily — on foreign policy.’
The White House has responded by saying her statement was supposed to represent the way Democrats and the media were portraying the situation. However, even if that was the case, and it was only a portrayal of the situation – if you’re an American, and a hostile foreign power just influenced the election in your favor, wouldn’t the right thing to do be to investigate it? Shouldn’t you do everything you can to prevent it from happening again, and, in the process, clear your own name?
Republicans haven’t done that. Instead, despite the fact that we’ve learned an incredible amount of information about the modern Russian strategy to interfere in democracy, we haven’t done a single thing to secure our nation’s voting interests or cyber infrastructure. Instead, Trump is still Putin’s best friend. The argument from the White House, then, appears to be this: “Yes, the Russians helped us with the election. Yes, we’re helping them now with sanctions and foreign policy. But we SWEAR there was no collusion!”
If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s probably going to prison. #LockHimUp
Here’s more on the ongoing Russia investigation: