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The Russian Connection

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By Chris Leavenworth

 

To not acknowledge or to disregard the enormous wealth of evidence that connects Trump and cohorts to the Kremlin interfering with US election is to be overtly misinformed at this point.

 

What’s painfully obvious is how belligerent the president can be to any world leader or celebrity, and how quickly he’ll call someone a liar without any concern for the actual truth of the claim being made, nor the integrity of its source. Yet he won’t bring himself to say anything less than charitable about Vladimir Putin. Trump insists that Russia’s third term president, ex-KGB foreign intelligence officer, and most powerful man in the world is telling the truth when he says he didn’t meddle with the 2016 election.

 

Trump expects everyone to be appeased solely by his assessment on the matter. When he fired Comey, he said he did it because “the Russia thing with Trump is a made-up story.” Then he asked the guy he’s been accused of colluding with if Russia did in fact meddle with the election.

 

Oddly, Trump insists (for once) that someone is not a liar, and he’s confident Putin is telling the truth when Putin conveniently responded that he didn’t do the thing he’s notoriously known to do with elections all over the world. And we’re all to be satisfied with Trump’s final word on it.

 

Whether or not Trump actually colluded with Russia, there’s sufficient evidence to conclude that Russia did in fact interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. From social media, disinformation campaigns, leaking of classified documents describing details about Russia’s attempt to hack American voting systems, to hacking the DNC—there’s a sea of content available online that demonstrates this point.

 

Despite Trump’s dismissal of the investigation and his claims that it’s a total witch-hunt, almost every week a new person involved with his campaign or administration is discovered having extensive history working directly with the Kremlin or with Russian oligarchs closely tied to it.

 

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager indicted on 12 criminal counts (one being conspiracy against the U.S.), has over $60 million in total business dealings with one of the most prominent oligarchs in Russia and Putin’s close friend, Oleg Deripaska, as revealed by financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

 

One of the heavier charges Manafort faces connects him and his protégé Rick Gates, to lobbying for a pro-Russian president in the Ukraine and the imprisonment of a presidential rival between 2012 and 2014. While that’s certainly shady business and totally unusual for any normal person to be involved in, the real reason he’s in trouble is because he failed to register as a foreign agent and he laundered over $20 million in lobbying earnings.

 

George Papadopoulos, foreign policy advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign, is a much more palpable threat. Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. The plea agreement states that Papadopoulos was contacted by Russia because of his position as foreign policy advisor for Trump’s campaign.

The plea agreement also details Papadopoulos’ efforts to acquire dirt on Hillary Clinton from officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry and confirms that Trump’s campaign was aware of the thousands of stolen emails prior to it being publicly announced.

 

Former senior advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign, Michael Caputo, has been recognized as Putin’s personal “image consultant” and was hired by Gazprom Media in 2000 to help improve the image of Vladmir Putin in the United States. Caputo may have had nothing to do with Russia interfering with the election, but he’s just another example of the repeating theme between those within Trump’s circle and the Russian government.

 

The number of people involved with Trump’s campaign and administration (including Trump and his own family) deeply invested and connected with Russia is astounding. Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Carter Page, Roger Stone, Felix Sater, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Michael Caputo…

 

The list keeps growing, and I have only enough space for one column.

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