Editorialist Max Boot, the author of The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, outlined 18 reasons President Donald Trump "could be a Russian asset" in a piece for The Washington Post.
The list is rather succinct and outlines:
- Trump's financial entanglements with Russia, which leave him "vulnerable to blackmail." Boot points to Jonathan Chait's intensively researched piece for New York magazine last year, which details roughly 30 years of financial activities between Trump and his Russian associates.
- The fact that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
- The fact that Trump encouraged Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on July 27, 2016. Trump asked the Kremlin to find “the 30,000 emails that are missing” from the personal server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State. On that same day, according to an indictment that the Justice Department released in July 2018, the Russians took Trump up on his offer. Trump has tried to walk back those comments more than once, at one point claiming that China hacked Clinton's emails.
- That the Moscow Project reports “101 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives,” and “the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.” Among these contacts: The infamous Trump Tower meeting.
- That the Trump campaign is linked to numerous officials with ties to Moscow, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (who was convicted in August 2018 on eight charges of tax and bank fraud) and former national security adviser Michael Flynn (whom Mueller suggested should not serve prison time because of the valuable information he provided about the Trump campaign's association with Russian operatives.
- Manafort's decision to share 2016 polling data with a Russian associate with ties to the Kremlin which was critical to the Russians' campaign to elevate Trump's candidacy.
- The fact that political consultant Roger Stone knew in advance that the Russians had hacked Clinton's campaign chairman's emails.
- Trump's decision to fire former FBI director James Comey in May 2017, a move which many believe is sufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice.
- Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russia's election meddling; he has sided with Putin over the assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian operatives had launched cyber attacks against the United States in its attempt to subvert the 2016 presidential election and undermine American democracy.
- Trump's regular attacks against the Justice Department and the FBI.
- Trump's regular attacks against the European Union and NATO.
- Trump's support for pro-Russian leaders in Europe, including Hungarian leader Viktor Orban and French populist Marine Le Pen.
- Trump's warm praise of Putin.
- Trump's decision to seize the notes of his Russian interpreter and conceal what he and Putin have discussed in private meetings; current and former U.S. officials who spoke to The Washington Post said on at least one occassion Trump has taken “possession of the notes of his own interpreter and [instructed] the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials."
- Trump's defense of pro-Russian talking points.
- Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, a decision which many have criticized as "handing" the country over to Russia and Iran.
- That Trump has not responded to Russian aggression against Ukranian ships in international waters.
- That Trump is "sowing chaos in the government... furthering a Russian objective of undermining its chief adversary."
The general consensus is that Trump is a Russian agent:
In recent days, the president and his legal team have attracted even more criticism.
Representatives released a joint statement warning the president that any attempts to obstruct and influence witness testimony could be construed as a crime after he accused his former attorney, Michael Cohen, of lying about him to win leniency from federal prosecutors and alleged potential legal problems involving Cohen’s father-in-law., Adam Schiff (CA), and Jerrold Nadler (NY), who respectively chair the Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees,
The three legislators said:
“The integrity of our process to serve as an independent check on the Executive Branch must be respected by everyone, including the President. Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress. The President should make no statement or take any action to obstruct Congress’ independent oversight and investigative efforts, including by seeking to discourage any witness from testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress.”
Trump's comments were a response to the news that Cohen will provide testimony before Congress next month which should shed more light on Trump's Russian ties.
Presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani was also savaged after he suggested that Trump’s legal team should be given the opportunity to “correct” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report before the American people or Congress see it.
“As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you — so we can correct it if they’re wrong,” Giuliani said. “They’re not God, after all. They could be wrong.”
Giuliani says it’s a matter of executive privilege.
“Of course we have to see [the report] before it goes to Congress,” he said. “We have reserved executive privilege and we have a right to assert it. The only way we can assert it is if we see what is in the report.”