By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Despite vehement denials of no collusion and repeated assertions of fake news, 16 associates of Donald Trump’s political circle have now been exposed as having had some association with Russian operatives. It seems almost like a daily occurrence that some new revelation emerges that further implicates Trump and his beleaguered administration.
Even before Robert Mueller finally reports his findings in the Russia probe, what has already come to light is highly damning and highly detailed. And, here is the real scary thing for Trump—Mueller knows a helluva lot more than what has been publicly disclosed.
Let’s examine the evidence to date:
• We now know several Russian officials reached out to a half-dozen Republicans very close to Trump and his campaign, including his eldest son, his closest adviser, his lawyer and his campaign manager. We now know they took the meetings, often enthusiastically, during and after the campaign.
• We now know Russia offered in those chats campaign assistance— “synergy,” they called it. We now know no one around Trump alerted the FBI of this effort to subvert our elections.
• We now know that 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted for hacking the DNC and systematically releasing material for the purpose of hurting the Clinton campaign via WikiLeaks.
• We know that Trump associates Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi attempted—successfully, in some instances—to get in touch with WikiLeaks and that they are under investigation for whether they had advance knowledge about the email dumps.
• We now know Donald Trump Jr. and others took a meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. We now know Don Jr., when approached with the promise of dirt, wrote: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
• We now know Trump was negotiating a Trump property in Moscow during the presidential campaign—and hid this from the public and lied about it. We now know Mueller believes, based on his court filing, the “Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.”
• We now know every arm of the U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia sought to systematically influence the election outcome. We now know this was a unanimous conclusion, save one dissent: Trump.
• We now know Trump officials continued talking with the Russians during the postelection transition. We now know Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions failed to initially disclose any contacts with Russians on their government forms.
• We now know Jared Kushner suggested a secret backchannel with the Russians, which had it happened, would have been free of U.S. eavesdropping.
• We now know Trump soured on FBI director James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House counsel Don McGahn in part over their handling of the probe.
• We now know Paul Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, lied about his Russia contacts, was indicted and is going to jail.
• We now know Flynn lied about his Russian contacts, was fired and pleaded guilty, after agreeing to become a key witness in the investigation.
• We now know Cohen lied about his Russian contacts, was indicted and then flipped to become a key witness against Trump.
Until last week, public revelations about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation focused on characters who had been around President Trump. Now, for the first time, the special counsel’s narrative has suddenly come alive with pre-presidential actions and entanglements by Trump himself. “Investigators have now publicly cast Trump as a central figure of their probe into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.”
The plot thickens even further. It has now been revealed that “Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks—and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities.” Moreover, “In both of his guilty plea hearings, [former Trump lawyer] Michael Cohen has gone beyond the court filings to make clear his criminal actions were specifically on Trump’s behalf.” Cohen, with years of visibility into Trump’s financial and political dealings, “has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller’s team.”
As the drum beats from the special prosecutor’s office grows louder, Trump continues his frantic rants and tweets that there’s no collusion. But, anyone with any modicum of sense realizes that this mounting evidence is damning and a real threat to his presidency. That’s everyone –except Donald Trump.