Trump’s Twitter Temper Tantrum Over Russia Allegations

Donald Trump deplorables outrage

Following the resignation of Michael Flynn over intelligence that he not only discussed Russian sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year but subsequently lied about it to at least one White House official, news began breaking from major news outlets detailing a larger, more complex story involving Russia’s ongoing interference in United States sovereignty. Among the largest of those stories is the revelation that multiple Trump campaign aides had direct and repeated contact with Russian intelligence during the presidential election last year.

Yes, that’s the same Russian intelligence that led a year-long campaign to hack the DNC, steal information, and release portions at key times to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. During this ongoing attack on the United States, multiple people in Donald Trump’s campaign were speaking on a regular basis with these people for at least a year.

The New York Times broke that story last night reporting:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

They added:

The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

Rather than address the real, pressing issue that his campaign was riddled with Russian infiltration, Donald Trump instead lashed out at the press this morning for reporting on it. In a series of tweets he not only berated the press but the national intelligence community for leaking the information to them:

It’s interesting to note that Trump is choosing to focus on the messenger(s) delivering the bad news rather than the bad news itself. A legitimate, strong president would immediately take action on such allegations and ferret out any Russian collaborators in his midst. Instead, Trump isn’t even denying the allegations – he’s just attacking the fact that the information went public.

That refusal to publicly deny or even condemn the thought of having aides who worked with Russian intelligence speaks volumes and more than ever begs the question(s): what did Trump know and when?

Another interesting side note is in the Eli Lake article he praised (in his tweets above), Trump appears to have scanned over or intentionally overlooked the first three paragraphs where Lake not-so-subtly indicts the White House over Flynn’s resignation stating it’s obviously not as simple as a lie to Vice President Pence.

In the article Lake said in part:

If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned because he lied about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the vice president. As White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday: “Misleading the vice president really was the key here.”

That sounds about as credible as when the president told CIA employees that the media had invented the story about his enmity toward the spy agency, not even two weeks after he had taken to Twitter to compare the CIA to Nazis. It’s about as credible as President Donald Trump’s insistence that it didn’t rain during his inauguration. Or that millions of people had voted illegally in the election he just won.

The point here is that for a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that Flynn’s “lie” to Pence would get him fired. It doesn’t add up.

Trump views this as positive coverage because Lake added that some of the leaked information is out of the ordinary (which it is – but then again, the nation is not living in ‘normal’ times).

And there is large reason to be concerned about the Trump administration’s Russian ties. “There was already a cloud hanging over the administration when it comes to Russia, and this darkens the cloud,” said George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot Cohen. “This is serious.”

Moreover, the Washington Post pointed out Trump’s credibility problem in any discussion about Russia or Flynn’s illegal actions with them:

This weekend brought yet another reminder that Trump’s claims can never be taken at face value. While flying to Palm Beach on Air Force One, the president told reporters he was “not familiar” with The Post’s report that Flynn had talked about sanctions with the ambassador. “I don’t know about that. I haven’t seen it. What report is that? I haven’t seen that. I’ll look into that,” he said.

We learned yesterday that, in fact, Trump had been told two weeks earlier that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador, despite his denials. But he sat on the information. “Spicer said that Trump was responding only to a question about the Post report and was not speaking about the overall issue of Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador and his discussion of sanctions,” Karen DeYoung, Abby Phillip and Jenna Johnson report in a deeper dive on what has become “a full-blown crisis.”

A few hours after Trump played dumb on Air Force One, he privately expressed frustration during a dinner at Mar-A-Lago that Flynn was dining at a nearby table. Trump was “surprised” to learn that Flynn was dining at a nearby table, the Wall Street Journal reports. “What is he doing here?” the president reportedly said, describing the man who was once at the center of his political orbit as “very controversial.” Still, Trump kept Flynn close all weekend.

As we wrote yesterday, the crime itself – whether it’s Flynn speaking as a private citizen to Russian government officials sabotaging Obama’s sanctions or Trump’s campaign staff working directly with Russian intelligence – is secondary to the cover-up of those crimes.

Pulitzer Prize winning national security journalist Walter Pincus echoed this sentiment in a column stating in part:

“What did the President know, and when did he know it? For those of us who went through Watergate, that question, first posed by Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.), is the one most relevant today as the current White House drama unfolds … At 6:28 a.m. yesterday morning, Trump wrote from the White House: ‘The real story here is why are  there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?’ That presidential tweet should make people uneasy, the way we felt nervous during Watergate about what military actions President Nixon might undertake as the truth began to threaten him personally. Trump was initiating what can only be described as a typical attempt to divert his roughly 25 million followers from paying attention to what he and his own White House has been caught doing.”

He added:

“More than 50 years ago, on the very first day I showed up for work to run an investigation of foreign government lobbyists for Sen. J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.), then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he told me, ‘Remember, it’s not what you did that counts, it’s what you did after you were caught.’ Washington, believe it or not, is a very forgiving town to government officials, including members of Congress, if they confess to misdeeds. But what has always brought people down is when they try to cover up what they have done.”

With each passing day it’s becoming clearer that Flynn (and Manafort, for that matter) may just be the tip of a large, Russian-made iceberg.

RELATED:

Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he's worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

Comments

Loading Disqus Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...