Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in multiple interviews after his visit with Donald Trump that the president encouraged Japan to improve its relationship with Russia. This development will only increase scrutiny over Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser, was forced to resign over his Russian contacts.
According to the Japan Times, the two leaders discussed the unresolved territorial conflict between Japan and Russia over a row of islands seized by the Russians during World War II.
“President Trump understands Japan’s [policy] to promote dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the territorial issue,” Abe said.
Trump encouraging Japan to improve relations with Russia is a stark contrast to the former President Barack Obama’s stance. In May 2016, Abe rejected Obama’s request to decline an invitation to meet with Putin. Japan defying Obama’s request was lauded by Russian officials as another example of a failed U.S. foreign policy.
The scrutiny over Trump’s stance on Russia is currently at an all-time high.
A report that Flynn’s communication with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail was published hours before his resignation. Flynn, who was a top adviser on U.S. foreign policy and national security, not only misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russia but also potentially violated the constitution by receiving money from the Russian government on a trip to Moscow in 2015.
Democrats on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have more questions than answers related to Flynn’s and Trump’s desire to improve U.S. relations with the Russian government. In a joint statement sent to Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Democrats are calling for a new investigation into Russia’s ties to the White House, according to the New York Times.
“For the sake of our nation’s future, our intelligence and law enforcement community must determine whether Donald Trump’s loyalties lie with us or with the Russians,” Rep. Eric Swalwell said.
Senator John McCain was one of the first Republicans to bluntly voice concern over Trump’s connection to Russia after Flynn’s resignation.
“General Flynn’s resignation is a troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus,” McCain said.
“Flynn’s resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.”
On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a press conference that he’s one of Russia’s biggest critics and applauded Flynn’s resignation.
“You can’t have the national security advisor misleading the Vice President and others,” Ryan said.
After Flynn’s resignation amid reports of his communications with Russian officials, Trump took to twitter to divert the attention to a bigger story in his opinion.
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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2017
It’s highly unlikely that the storm around what the White House knew about Flynn’s communication with Russia and when did they know will die down anytime soon.
Before the term “fake news” was being used against CNN’s reporting, it was used to describe viral content being manufactured around the world to prop up Trump and take down Hillary Clinton. Flynn himself even tweeted a fake news article about Clinton being involved in sex crimes and money laundering.
Philippe’s got his own way of saying things, but he has a point about the real consequences of fake news… https://t.co/a02sXiaHfp
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 14, 2017
Dear Mike Flynn & Mike Flynn Jr.,
What goes around COMETS around.
And given your pizza obsession…https://t.co/rmyO7wyJKX
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) February 14, 2017
Clinton appears to have a sense of humor about Russia’s connections to Trump’s White House claiming its first resignation.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]