Kremlin ties could unravel the new administration—but Dems wounded own cause by downplaying Russian threat for so long
Throughout the six weeks since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has been buffeted by waves of allegations regarding his links to Russia. Leaks about calls to the Russian embassy in Washington led to the embarrassing resignation of Mike Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Advisor, after just three weeks on the job. Further leaks indicated that the Intelligence Community intercepted numerous calls last year, during the election campaign, between members of Trump’s inner circle and senior Russian intelligence officials. For a new White House still finding its way, shadowy Kremlin ties have become more than a mere distraction.
Many in Washington, including at least a few of our spies, think the administration will eventually be overwhelmed by its shady relationship with Vladimir Putin and his unpleasant regime. The president’s ham-handed efforts to dismiss the Russia story as “fake news” have not quieted his critics, by no means all of whom are on the Left. Rumors of unsavory connections to the Kremlin swirled around Trump throughout the presidential race, but neither his rivals nor the media dug as deeply into those allegations as they should have. To compensate, parts of the mainstream media have now gone into overdrive, searching meticulously for proof of unethical and perhaps illegal ties between the White House and Putin.
So far no smoking gun has emerged. But, as someone who tried to shed light on Trump’s questionable Kremlin links long before the election, I’m relieved to see this issue finally getting the attention it merits, but in not every case is late better than never. Allegations of serious misdeeds—espionage and perhaps worse—not supported by hard evidence inevitably smack of trying to overturn a democratic election, ex post facto, by undemocratic means.