No matter how many times Trump screams or types tweets in all caps that there was “NO COLLUSION!” with Russia during his presidential campaign, the investigation rolls on thanks to the shady and deliberate actions of members of his campaign team, including his oldest son and son-in-law.
While Trump likes to insist that he’s been tougher on Russia than any president ever in history (everything Trump does is bigger than anything ever in history), he keeps making statements about Russia and President Vladimir Putin that make him look even more shady than he already did. For instance, Trump spoke with reporters before leaving for the G7 Summit about who should have been invited. To the surprise of absolutely no one, he stated that Russia should be there.
‘Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.’
"Why are we having a meeting without Russia? I would recommend, and it is up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting," President Trump says of G7 summit. "They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table." https://t.co/gPokHDkAxK pic.twitter.com/7lB7RSNZaf
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 8, 2018
As The New York Times explains:
‘Russia joined the group in the 1990s after emerging from the wreckage of the Soviet Union, making it the G-8, but its armed intervention in its neighbor Ukraine in 2014 and seizure of the Crimean peninsula angered other major powers. The remaining members, led by President Barack Obama, expelled it in a sign of global resolve not to let international borders be redrawn by force.’
Trump is already on shaky ground headed into the summit thanks to his alienation of U.S. allies through trade tariffs he’s imposed that were supposed to include only countries who are a national security threat. Somehow, he refuses to back down from this despite the fact that Canada, Mexico, and the EU are not national security threats.
‘We are going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look what Canada, Mexico, the European Union, what all of them have been doing to us for many decades, we have to change it. If we can’t make a deal we’ll terminate [the North American Free Trade Agreement].’
President Trump says Russia should be reinstated to the G7 summit. Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 after the majority of member countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which Russia continues to hold. https://t.co/iTlzWwvTPx pic.twitter.com/FtH4ABuZXV
— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2018
What is a national security threat, however, is Russia’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election. Not only have voter registration rolls and the DNC been hacked, but the fear still exists that if they were capable of doing so, they may also be capable of hacking into U.S. government servers that contain classified information.
Trump says Russia should be back in G7 (the former G8): “I am Russia’s worst nightmare… that being said Russia should be in this meeting.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 8, 2018
What makes these statements so suspect are the many meetings Trump’s campaign had with Russian government operatives during the campaigns and Russia’s intentions of helping him win the election. It’s common knowledge that Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Russians at Trump Tower in June of 2016 to get “dirt” that they had on Hillary Clinton.
What is not yet clear in the collusion investigation is whether or not that meeting led to any promises by the Trump campaign to support Russian policies or relieve sanctions on Russia in exchange for that compromising information, which may or may not have included illegally hacked DNC emails. If promises were made and calling for Russia to be invited back into the G7, that would without a doubt be evidence of collusion.
Trump's demand that Putin be restored to his place in the once-upon-a-time G8—currently G7—must be explained as exactly what it is: *sanctions relief*.
The entire Trump-Russia scandal is about Trump trading sanctions relief for business opportunities in Russia. It's that simple.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) June 8, 2018
It’s also clear that Trump has been informed that our intelligence committees have irrefutable evidence that Russia not only interfered in the presidential elections, but that they continue these attacks today. The president who insists he’s tougher than any president ever in history against our national security threats has done nothing to help thwart these attacks.
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) June 8, 2018
What is most clear from Trump’s actions, which conflict with his public statements as president, that Trump seems to support every platform that would benefit Putin, the Kremlin, and Russia despite the immense threat they pose to the U.S. That support comes at a time when Trump’s campaign is still under investigation and Russia continues their illegal attacks. Collusion, at this point, seems a foregone conclusion.
Featured image via Getty/Chip Somodevilla