A lot has been said, much of it contested, over the past few months about now President-Elect Donald Trump, and his ties to Russia.
Even with plenty of evidence of Russian tampering in the U.S. election, there are still those who insist that there is nothing shady going on here- that anyone with serious concerns about Donald Trump and his pro-Russian views is either a butt-hurt liberal whining about the election results, or is too far inside their tinfoil hat to see things clearly. The evidence seems to be telling a different story, however.
I’m not suggesting that the Russian government was somehow able to compromise the U.S. electoral system, but the hacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton aide John Podesta suggest that they were certainly willing to put forward their two cents about their preferred candidate for Presidential office. These hacks were traced to Russian intelligence, so it’s clear what the play was here- discredit Clinton, legitimize conspiracies about the Democrats.
Keep in mind that Donald Trump also advocated for the continuation of Russian hacking throughout the election season, saying that “…you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.” It isn’t really the press that the Russian government wants rewards from though, it’s the upcoming Trump administration.
In a statement quickly following Donald Trump’s electoral win, Putin stated:
“Russia is ready and wants to restore the fully fledged relations with the US. I repeat we understand this will be difficult, but we are ready to play our part in it."
Play their part indeed…
For Putin, this election outcome is a home-run. He couldn’t have asked for better. We’re talking about someone in the White House who not only wants to weaken NATO alliances, but who has actively copped to liking Putin’s authoritarian style.
Needless to say, the weakening of NATO alliances is a net gain for Russia, and will bolster Putin’s grasp on regions of interest to him such as the Baltic States, Georgia, and the Ukraine. Trump has cited largely economic reasons for his unfavorable views on NATO, but perhaps it runs deeper than this.
This is where things get really shady- there has been a disturbing number of connections to Russia and Russian interests, both in Trump’s campaign staff and his businesses.
“Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was rumored to be on Trump’s VP shortlist. Flynn is currently a regular guest on RT, Russia’s English-language propaganda outlet, and he will not disclose whether the channel pays him. When he attended RT’s 10th anniversary party, he sat at the head table with Putin himself.
Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, has served as an adviser for Gazprom, Russia’s state-run energy corporation. As recently as March 2016, he said he owned shares in the company.”
These are just a couple of examples. In addition to this are Donald Trump’s many personal business ties to Russia, where according to his son, they “make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets."
Couple this with the fact that the Trump organization has sought financing from several non-traditional institutions with ties leading inside Putin’s circle. It stands to reason that something not-quite-right is going on here- though it’s unlikely that we’ll find out what that not-quite-right something is. After all, we’re talking about a man who won’t even release his taxes.