Over the last few days, accusations about Trump Russian ties and Russian interference in the 2016 election process have created a firestorm in the media. But if these allegations are proven, they should hardly come as a surprise, given that a shockingly large number of Trump administration picks – or potential picks – have very close ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia.
As noted by CNN, the CIA on Friday revealed that they had determined Vladimir Putin and Russia hacked or otherwise influenced the United States election results to ensure a Trump victory. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling for an investigation into the matter, but – with only days left until the Electoral College meets – it may be too late.
Paul Manafort’s Russian Connection
One of the earliest Trump Russian ties to be revealed is related to Trump’s original campaign manager, Paul Manafort. As reported by Kyiv Post, Manafort has been accused of having received illegal payments as a political consultant to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, who was Russian-backed, puppet ruling Ukraine until he was ousted in 2014.
In addition, Manafort has reportedly done millions of dollars’ worth of business with various Russian oligarchs. While Manafort became persona non grata during the campaign when these revelations first came out, now that Trump has the campaign in the bag, Manafort is back.
Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and Russia
Donald Trump’s apparent decision to choose Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is one of the clearest indications yet of continuing Trump Russian ties. Tillerson is CEO of Exxon and has had very close dealings with Russia and Vladimir Putin over the years.
In fact, in 2013 Vladimir Putin awarded Rex Tillerson the Russian “Order of Friendship.” This is an award given to foreigners who do or say things that the Russian government – and in particular President Vladimir Putin – find admirable or useful.
Despite these associations, this close friend of Vladimir Putin is apparently going to be the next United States Secretary of State. This has left many wondering just how effective he could be in carrying out duties and decisions that might be in conflict with Russia’s wishes.
Lieutenant General Mike Flynn
Trump’s new National Security Adviser choice, retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, also has an unconventional view of the United States/Russian relationship. He has made clear on a number of occasions that he feels we should work with the Russians to help prop up several dictatorships in the Middle East, including Assad of Syria.
As reported by CNN, following Flynn’s dismissal as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency – a long story in itself – he also participated in a number of paid events in Russia, which included both a speech and his attendance at a party celebrating the anniversary of the Russian, state-owned TV station RT. Flynn even attended a dinner in Moscow where he was seated next to Vladimir Putin. So Flynn’s views are largely in accord with the other Trump Russian ties.
What about Donald Trump?
Russian ties to the incoming Trump administration nominees would be bad enough, but there are indications that Trump himself has financial connections to Russia. Yes, Trump has repeatedly said that he has no direct financial interests or investments in Russia.
This denial artfully avoids discussing the fact that Russia may have a financial interest in him. As a number of investigators have noted, Donald Trump in recent years has had a great deal of difficulty obtaining financing from United States banks – in no small measure because he declares bankruptcy with such remarkable regularity.
But as reported by the Business Standard, there are indications that through backdoor, indirect means, Trump may have received financing from Russian banks to help prop up his frequently faltering empire. If this were proven to be the case, it would mean that the future president of the United States would be under a direct financial obligation to what many regard as America’s principal adversary.
Conflict of interest wouldn’t begin to describe such a situation. This is what has so many in the Democratic Party – and some in the Republican Party – so concerned with CIA revelations about Russian efforts to steal the presidency for Donald Trump. When considered in light of the other reported Trump Russian ties, it has led some to suggest that, with the election of Donald Trump, Russia may have just won the Cold War.
[Featured Image by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Images]