Donald Trump’s Russia scandal may have reached a tipping point, with a majority of Americans now saying they want Congress to investigate the potential contact between Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence officials.
Trump has long been dogged by rumors that his campaign was in close contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. A dossier compiled by a British MI6 intelligence officer claimed that Trump’s team colluded with Russians on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair.
The report also claimed that Russian officials have for years been cultivating Donald Trump as a candidate, collecting compromising material to blackmail him with and offering enriching deals.
Though the majority of the dossier remains unverified, U.S. intelligence officials have already uncovered several instances of contact between Trump’s campaign and Russia. A recent report from the New York Times cited senior intelligence officials who claimed that a number of Trump’s senior campaign leaders were in frequent contact with Russia over the course of the campaign.
— Robert Sciarrino (@SciarrinoRobert) February 25, 2017
There is not yet direct evidence that Trump’s team worked with Russia on the DNC and Podesta leaks, but officials still found the timing curious.
“But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin,” the report went on to add. “At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.”
There have been a number of calls for Congress to investigate the possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia, and now the American people appear to be on board. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 53 percent of Americans believe that Congress should look into the contact between Trump’s team and Russia. Only 25 percent said Congress should remain out of the investigation, and another 21 percent didn’t have an opinion on the matter.
Voters also believed that Donald Trump had grown too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Business Insider noted.
“The last question in the poll asked respondents whether they thought Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin was too friendly. Some 38% of voters thought so, while 29% answered ‘not too friendly.’
“However, among Clinton voters, 70% said his relationship was ‘too friendly,’ while only 7% of Trump voters answered agreed.”
There are reportedly a series of investigations already underway in the intelligence community related to Trump’s Russian connection, and there could be growing pressure on Congress to formally take up an investigation. This week, CNN reported that the White House broke long-established rules in asking the FBI to publicly deny an investigation into the Russian contact.
— FaithBackRubsPolitcs (@FaithRubPol) February 25, 2017
The CNN report claimed that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus directly asked both FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI Director James Comey if they could talk to reporters on background, shooting down the reports of an investigation. Both top FBI officials refused, and there could be other trouble for Trump’s team, CNN reported.
“The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.”
Despite the reports, Donald Trump and the White House continue to deny any connections to Russia.
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