Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What are Trump's Intentions Towards Russia?

And so, more or less as we suspected, we now know that Donald Trump knew that Michael Flynn had spoken to the Russian ambassador and then misled the Vice President. But this is not the whole story. Remember what happened at the time: President Obama went by the diplomatic book and expelled Russian diplomats and closed various Russian sites in the US used for spying and other activities. The assumption was that Russia would follow suit. It did not. We now know why. The incoming administration, via Michael Flynn, spoke to them and gave them certain assurances. Trump then praised Putin for being smart when he chose to overlook the expulsions.

In other words this was Flynn acting with the at least tacit connivance of the then President Elect. Trump knew what had happened within a few days of taking office. He also knew that there was a potential legal issue. He did nothing. He did nothing because he didn't care. Up until a couple of days ago the Trump administration was spinning its alternative facts about Flynn and was determined to keep him in place. But the information got out. Indeed Trump is most angry that his administration is leaking like a sieve. The reason it is leaking though is because so many working in Washington are appalled by what is going on.

The line coming from the administration is that Flynn had to go because his situation became unsustainable. But they knew about this at the end of January. They were warned that a man in a highly sensitive role might be vulnerable to blackmail and yet they did nothing. This is a matter of national security, an excuse they use when trying to bring in pointless immigration bans and yet on a clear breach of security they ignored it until the details leaked to the press. Just watch above as Kellyanne Conway squirms and makes nonsensical defences of the indefensible.

The real concern is this once again raises questions about Trump's relationship with Russia and with Putin. The Kremlin's intemperate response when Flynn was forced out tells us a great deal. They have lost their man in the White House as much as Trump has. What on earth is going on? What are Trump's intentions vis a vis Russia?

There are more and more stories leaking out about the chaos and dysfunctionality of the Trump White House. It is staffed by people who don't know what they are doing under a president whose attention span means that his briefings have to be one page long and are illustrated with maps and diagrams. Trump's presidency is like an Ikea instruction leaflet. But there is something bigger going on with Russia. There is clear intent there and we still don't know the motivations behind it. This is a story that is not going to go away. Trump's presidency is already looking shaky and possibly doomed.

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