A lot of these details about all the questions surrounding Trump and Russia are essentially trivia but they add up to a few big, explosive questions about why the president of the United States keeps needing to distance himself from his own associates, won’t reveal what’s going on with his money, and insists on advancing an unusual foreign policy doctrine.
*Did the Trump campaign, directly or indirectly, actively collaborate with the Russian government over the course of the 2016 campaign?
*Is the Trump Organization benefiting from ongoing or recent financial flows from the Russian government or people close to it?
*Does the Russian government have dirt on Trump, relating to past shady financing or to some of the more salacious blackmail material alleged in the infamous “Steele dossier,” that’s influencing American policy?
The small questions ensure the big questions won’t end
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is a good dictum for forestry management but doesn’t really apply to politics.
Politicians try to avoid embarrassment, and a simple desire to own up to something embarrassing — rather than anything illegal or genuinely nefarious — often lies behind mysterious behavior. It’s entirely possible that Page ended up on the roster of Trump advisers simply because a disorganized campaign was taken in by a grifter. Trump’s refusal to engage in standard financial disclosure certainly seems to be about covering up something, but that something could have nothing to do with Russia.
The shifting and inconsistent stories about the Flynn timeline could be nothing more than a disorganized and distrustful White House staff bungling something and then compounding the bungling by not wanting to admit they were bungling.
Trump’s boast about meeting with oligarchs could just be a habitually dishonest person lying for no particular reason.
But especially in light of Trump’s unorthodox policy views on Russia, the sheer quantity of outstanding questions and loose threads is remarkable.
That’s doubly so because the Trump team has repeatedly tried to have it both ways on a number of these fronts — with Stone, Manafort, Page, and Flynn all distanced from Trump once their Russia connections came to light, even as Trump denies there was any underlying wrongdoing and appears not to have fully severed ties.
Trump has repeatedly, and increasingly angrily, suggested that the answer to the three big questions is uniformly no. But his inability to provide satisfactory answers to the myriad other questions means it’s hard to take him at his word.
33 Q’s about Trump and Russia