This discussion is one I haven’t gotten into much, but since it’s been going through the news nonstop I guess it’s time to talk about Trump and Russia.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Trump’s administration has been caught several times having some type of contact with Russia during his campaign. This issue has caused controversy after another. For the next two blog posts I will be going over Trump’s relationship with Russia (through a timeline) and why American’s should be concerned.
It all goes back to 2013. In October of 2013, Trump had an interview with David Letterman saying he’s had conducted business with Russia. He talked about Putin and how he’s a “tough guy” and had met with him once.
Later that year, Russian President Putin praised Trump, who at the time, was the front-runner of the Republican Primary. This is the first, of many times, Americans would here about the Trump administration’s links to Russia.
Fast-forward to June of 2016, when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced that they had been hacked by Russians. Later that month hackers began releasing information that crippled the Democrats strategy against Trump. Other documents were released that highlighted Clinton’s vulnerabilities as well as her responses to those attacks.
In July, WikiLeaks publishes almost 20,000 emails that were stolen from the DNC. Many of the emails showed favoritism towards Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic Presidential candidate, rather than Sen. Bernie Sanders. Later in July the FBI announced it would launch an investigation into the DNC email hacking.
After he won the election in November, Trump interviewed with TIME Magazine. “I don’t believe they interfered [in the U.S. elections]. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered. Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart. It could be Russia. It could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey. I believe that could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”
In December, Obama expelled 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the country and impose sanctions on Russia for interfering in the elections. At this time, Michael Flynn (the soon-to-be National Security Adviser) had made several phone calls to Russian Ambassador, Kislyak assuring the ambassador that the Trump administration could discuss the the newly imposed sanctions (this is what got him fired since at the time he was a civilian). A day later, Putin announced he would not retaliate against the U.S., a uncharacteristic move by the Russians.
In January of 2017, when Sen. Jeff Sessions (soon-to-be attorney general), an early Trump surrogate, was under oath at a Senate hearing told the congressional leaders that he had not been in contact with any of the Russians. This was proved to be untrue a month later that he did have conversations with Russian officials. Throughout the rest of the month Press Secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters that Michael Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak were logistics of setting up a call between Trump and Putin. Trump calls out the “dishonest media” for the first of many times.
In early February, Trump was interviewed by fox news and defended Putin, “I do respect him,” when O’Riley pressed Trump about the atrocities that have taken place in Russian, Trump responds, “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”A few days later, the Washington Post confirmed that Flynn did discuss U.S. sanctions during his call with Kislyak, and step down as the NSA director a few days later.
In the middle of February, Trump calls the Russia controversy “fake news” also stating, “I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything. Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.”
And finally we come to March, where the Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, did in fact, speak to the Russian ambassador during the campaign, which contradicted his past statements, including one where he was under oath.
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