The Trump-Russia Scandal Goes Further Than You May Think
By Noah Kotlarek
As the Mueller Probe nears its close, Senator Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced on February 6 that the committee would be opening up a new investigation on Russian interloping in the 2016 presidential election and on Trump’s international business interests. The investigation aims to find out if Trump’s decisions as President are being guided by his financial or personal interests. Perhaps the Russians have information on Trump that he would not like leaked.
The goal of this article is to explain what the investigations on Trump and his ties to Russia are and to define the people involved. First, we will begin with the Mueller Probe, also known as the Special Counsel Investigation. This investigation, which started on May 17, 2017, is designed to determine if the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin (Russian government) conspired to influence the 2016 US Presidential Election and is headed by Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI. More specifically, the investigation looks to see if the hundreds of “fake” social media accounts created by Russia to create disdain for Hillary Clinton and the leakage of DNC emails was created in collusion with Trump.
This investigation has led to a couple of indictments and several convictions. The most notable being the conviction of Paul Manafort. Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman during the summer of 2016 and has had a long history of lobbying for foreign governments in the US. From 2004 to 2010 he worked as a campaign adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine and friend of Putin. From 2007 to 2008, Russian investor Oleg Deripaska loaned Manafort $10 million in exchange for pro-Russian lobbying in American and European politics, business, and media coverage. Finally, from 2010 to 2014 Manafort received $60 million from Ukrainian oligarchs. Manafort’s prize for his lobbying service went to funding the purchase of his $15,000 ostrich skin hoodie and the maintenance of his letter M-shaped flowerbed in the backyard of his Bridgehampton estate.
Now back to the investigation announced by Sen. Schiff last Wednesday… The Committee will be working closely with Mueller. On February 6, the Committee voted to send fifty transcripts from its Russia investigation to Mueller on top of the transcript from its Roger Stone interview. Roger Stone was a casino lobbyist for Trump in the 1990s and then briefly served on Trump’s campaign team in 2015. During Trump’s campaign, he was in communication with Guccifer 2.0, the Russian avatar who claimed to have hacked into the DNC and leaked the Democratic National Committee’s emails (some of which seem to reveal the Democrats intentionally sabotaged Bernie Sanders’s campaign) and John Podesta’s – Hillary Clinton’s election Chairman – emails to WikiLeaks, via Twitter private messaging. On January 25, 2019, Mr. Stone was arrested and charged for witness tampering and obstructing an official proceeding by lying to Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
Trump was not too pleased to hear Senator Schiff’s announcement. He took to Twitter, the State of the Union, and the Roosevelt Room to blast Schiff’s investigation. To Trump, Schiff is “just a political hack trying to build a name for himself.” At the State of the Union address on the February 6, Trump expressed his opposition to “ridiculous partisan investigations” which he feels are a continuation of the “presidential harassment” that he has been the victim of.
Later in the week, Schiff hired former National Security Council members – some who Trump believes were working for him – to assist in his investigation. This news was not pleasing to Trump’s ears, “I hear… committee heads will [be] stealing people who work at White House!” Schiff responded, “If the President is worried about our hiring any former administration people, maybe he should work on being a better employer.” Schiff clarified the debate, stating that he had not hired anyone who was directly working at the White House.
In July, Sen. Schiff was seen meeting with Glenn Simpson, an executive of Fusion GPS (the company that performed opposition research on Romney for the DNC and is researching Trump and Russian collusion). Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) claims that this is evidence of Schiff colluding with an anti-Trump research company and is unfair for the investigation.
As for now, Democrats plan on continuing to leverage the power of the subpoena to progress their investigation. On Friday, January 8, General Whitaker, an insider in the Mueller investigation, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was pelleted with questions asking if he talked to Trump about the investigation and/or disclosed confidential information that Trump could use to protect himself. Whitaker denied any communication with the President regarding the Mueller investigation.
At this point the outlook is not so bright for the President. For many, it is quite evident that Trump was assisted by Russia to secure his victory in 2016. But on February 9, Trump tweeted, “The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!” Interesting.