There have now been two major stories that clearly call into question if President Donald Trump is a traitor to his own country or an operative or stooge for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
NEW YORK TIMES REPORT
On May 9, 2017, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Initially Trump said the firing was based on the recommendation of top Justice Department officials and because of his botched handling of the 2016 email investigation involving Hillary Clinton.
On May 10, 2017, the very day after President Trump fired James Comey, Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office that he had fired F.B.I. director James B. Comey and said:
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. … I’m not under investigation.”
The Oval Office disclosure to the Russian Ambassador reinforces the notion that the president dismissed Comey primarily because of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.
However, Trump in a TV interviews, said he made the decision to fire Comey prior to consulting the Justice Department, because the FBI chief was a “showboat” and was mishandling the department.
On May 11, 2017, during and interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, Trump acknowledged that the Russia investigation was one of the things he considered in firing FBI Director James Comey when he said “In fact, when I decided to just do it [fire James Comey], I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
Trump’s repeated references to the Russia investigation in interviews, tweets and the letter he sent Comey informing him that he’d been fired could be interpreted as an effort to “obstruct or impede” the Russian investigation.
On January 11, 2019, the New York Times reported that within the days after President Trump fired F.B.I. director James B. Comey, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
According to the New York Times bombshell report, counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether Trump’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security.
Agents sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
What prompted the counterintelligence inquiry were two instances, one before and one after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, in which Trump tied the Comey dismissal to stop the Russia investigation.
The investigation centered on if Trump had ousted the head of the F.B.I. to impede or even end the Russia investigation which would be both a possible crime of “obstruction of justice” and a national security concern for Russian interference in the 2016 election.
WASHINGTON POST REPORT
On January 13, 2019 The Washington Post reported that there are no detailed records of 5 personal meetings President Trump has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin but what they have said and agreed to is a mystery.
The Washington Post reported that Trump went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep the specifics of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin totally under wraps and not to be disclosed to anyone, not even United States Government officials.
Current and former US officials told the Washington Post that Trump’s efforts include confiscating the notes from his interpreter and not allowing the interpreters to discuss the details of the meetings with other officials in his administration.
After the two hour and behind closed door meeting between Trump and Putin on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, the Kremlin later reported that the leaders reached important agreements, but American government officials were left in the dark on what Trump had agreed to behind closed doors.
American intelligence agencies were left to glean details about the meeting from surveillance of Russians who talked about it afterward.
Trump’s behavior in concealing whatever he said and whatever he promises to Vladimir Putin violates past presidential standards and established diplomatic protocols.
TRUMP’S OVERT SOLICITATIONS OF RUSSIAN INFLUENCE
What is reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post is a confirmation of what has been going on with Trump before and after he was elected President.
On July 27, 2016, while running for office, Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to find emails that had been deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server that she used while serving as secretary of state when he said:
“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing … “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump said at a press conference in Florida.
On July 27, 2016, Vladimir Putin and Russia were listening and heeded Trump’s call for help to get him elected President.
According to the federal indictment of the 12 Russian intelligence officers for their involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, the Russian hacking occurred on July 27, 2016 hours after Trump gave his press conference and encouraged Russian hackers to find Clinton’s emails.
The indictment states that on July 27, 2016, the same day as Trump’s press conference, Russian hackers, “for the first time,” attempted to break into email accounts, including those used by Clinton’s personal office.
Notably, the indictment is very specific that the hack happened in the evening, meaning the Russian officials could have done it after Trump’s press conference.
Literally hundreds of times since the election, Trump has tweeted and said during events and interviews that there was “no collusion” with Russia.
Trump has called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”
Trump then said “There was no collusion, but if there was, it was not a crime.”
After his return trip from Helsinki meeting with President Vladimir Putin Trump said “I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t. … The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia [who hacked into Democratic Party computers]. … I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself”.
Regarding his relationship with Putin and Russia, Trump has said this:
“Then Putin said, ‘Donald Trump is a genius, he’s going to be the next great leader of the United States.’ No, no, think of it. They wanted me to disavow what he said. How dare you call me a genius. How dare you call me a genius, Vladimir. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn’t that be good?”
“The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me!”
“But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”
“I never met Putin. … I don’t know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I’m a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin.”
“I would treat Vladimir Putin firmly, but there’s nothing I can think of that I’d rather do than have Russia friendly, as opposed to the way they are right now, so that we can go and knock out ISIS with other people.”
RUSSIAN MONEY MAKES TRUMP’S “WORLD GO ROUND”
Donald Trump has maintained that neither he nor his businesses have any ties to Russia whatsoever and he has not done business in Russia.
On January 11, 2017, Donald Trump tweeted:
“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
During a February 2O17, news conference, President Trump said:
“I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia … I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.”
On May 8, 2017, Vanity Fair reported that the Trump Organization received substantial financing from Russia when the business was struggling in the mid-1990s and again during the Great Recession, since major U.S. banks had refuse to make any loans.
On March 17, 2017, Reuters reported that a group of 63 Russia billionaires have invested nearly $100 million in several Trump properties in Florida.
Donald Trump Jr. famously said in 2008 that:
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
During the week of May 21, 2017, the top story was President Trump’s son in law and White House Presidential adviser and employee Jared Kushner trying to set up “back channel” communications and use Russian classified government communications systems to avoid United States government detection and monitoring.
Jared Kushner, Paul Manford and Donald Trump, Jr. were at the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
On September 12, 2018, BuzzFeed News Reported that federal investigators have looked into a pair of suspicious money transfers from some of the planners and participants in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-connected lawyer who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
They involve money from Russia and Switzerland being moved to places such as the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok and New Jersey, according to the BuzzFeed report.
The secret documents it evaluated show a complex web of financial transactions may play a role in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference.
Four federal law enforcement officers told the news outlet that investigators were specifically looking into two bursts of transactions that bank examiners found suspicious.
One of the bursts occurred 11 days after the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, while the other happened right after President Trump’s election.
Secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey.
The documents show Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the center of this vast network and how he used accounts overseas to filter money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting.
The financial records offer new insight into the world inhabited by many of Trump’s associates, who use shell companies and secret bank accounts to quickly and quietly move money across the globe.
LETTER OF INTENT TO DO BUSINESS IN RUSSIA
On December 19, 2018 CNN reported that in 2016, as the Trump Organization was in negotiations to build Trump Tower Moscow, Donald Trump signed a “letter of intent” to move forward with the project.
CNN obtained a copy of the letter and news anchor Chris Cuomo showed it on air, along with video of Trump repeatedly denying that he had anything to do with Russia while he was running for president.
The letter of intent to build the Moscow Trump Tower was also signed by the head of the Russian firm that Trump’s company was working with, corroborates the argument Trump was lying when he said he did not do business with Russian interests.
RUSSIAN TIES OF INTERFERENCE
Three senior intelligence officials have said the intelligence community has found clear evidence that Russia did indeed compromise or interfere with voter registries in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin, and there are probably more.
(February 28, 2018 NBC News report: “U.S. intel: Russia compromised seven states prior to 2016 election”.)
The intelligence community has found that Russia tried to influence our election in favor of Trump by circulating false and misleading information on the internet, sponsoring organization meetings and providing funding for Trump supporter rallies.
One report is money was given by Russian operatives to fund a float for a mock-up of a jail with a Clinton look alike dress in a black and white striped jumpsuit.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged 33 people and convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen of felony crimes of varying degrees and all three have cooperated with the investigation.
Some of the President’s closest advisors have been indicted, tried and convicted or plead guilty to charges and awaiting sentencing including:
Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to report foreign bank accounts with Manafort pleading guilty in another criminal case.
Michael Cohen, President’ Trump’s long time private attorney and “fixer” and who has plead guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations in the criminal investigation in New York and implicated Trump in committing campaign finance felonies.
Rick Gates, one of Manafort’s business partners who plead guilty to one charge of lying to investigators and one charge of conspiracy in exchange for becoming a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe. He testified against Manafort as the prosecution’s star witness in its case in Virginia.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser who plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations last December with Russia’s ambassador to the US at the time, Sergey Kislyak. In delaying Michael Flynn’s sentencing, Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn “Arguably, this undermines everything this [US] flag over here stands for! Arguably, you sold your country out!”
George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Papadopoulos made at least six attempts to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian representatives throughout the course of the 2016 presidential campaign.
California businessman Richard Pinedo who plead guilty to one count of identity fraud. The plea deal’s release came immediately after Mueller’s office announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of interfering in the 2016 US election by mounting an elaborate and multi-faceted social media influence operation meant to sow political discord during and after the race.
Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer tied to Manafort and Gates plead guilty to one count of making false statements to federal investigators. Van der Zwaan represents the interests of numerous Russian oligarchs. He is also the son-in-law of German Khan, the Ukrainian-Russian billionaire who controls Russia’s Alfa Bank.
Thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies indicted for allegedly involved in meddling in the US political system.
Twelve Russian intelligence officers indicted for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee before the 2016 US presidential election. The accusations against them include conspiring to interfere with the election by hacking computers, stealing documents, and releasing those documents with intent to interfere.
TREASON AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The power and authority to bring Articles of Impeachment rests solely with the United States House of Representatives and a trial is then conducted by the United State Senate for removal from office.
A “high crimes and misdemeanor” can be whatever the House of Representatives say it is in Articles of Impeachment.
Treason against the United States is defined under federal law as when “a person, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United State” (18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason)
Under federal law, “obstruction of justice” is defined as an act that “corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” (18 U.S.C. § 1503)
Someone obstructs justice when that person has a specific intent to obstruct or interfere with a judicial proceeding, such as the firing of an FBI Director during an ongoing FBI investigation which is what the Russian probe investigation is all about.
For a person to be convicted of obstructing justice, that person must not only have the specific intent to obstruct the proceeding, but that person must know:
(1) that a proceeding was actually pending at the time; and
(2) there must be a connection between the endeavor to obstruct justice and the proceeding, and the person must have knowledge of this connection.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Government officials and others familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference have told the media that he is nearing the conclusion of his investigation and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February, 2019.
It is highly likely the information contained in The New York Times and the Washington Post articles is very “old news” to Robert Mueller.
It is more likely than not that the Russian probe has uncovered evidence of a President “giving aid and comfort” to Russia to influence his election to become President and to hide or stop the Russia investigation to disrupt the 2016 election by firing FBI James Comey or both.
Trump has spent a lifetime being loyal to only two things: himself and his money.
Given the millions and millions of dollars involved with Russian financing of Trump enterprises, Trump’s love of money probably outweighs his love for his country if he really ever had love for the country in the first place.
No one, except Donald Trump, knows what promises and commitments he has made to Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors, including those promises and commitments made against the best interests of his county and the people of the United States.
What appears to be unfolding is the inevitable impeachment of a sitting President of the United States for treason against his own country for the first time in its history, and if not, for obstruction of justice.