The political upheaval over any possible — and nefarious — relationship between President Donald Trump, any of his aides and Russia continues to plague his administration, even causing the resignation last week of his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, an early supporter.
Now, a growing number of Republican lawmakers are demanding expanded congressional inquiries into “the Russian matter,” while the president says there’s nothing here to see.
As questions about possible Russian ties swirl, President Trump used his unconventional news conference on Thursday to shut down “the Russians Are Coming” narrative engulfing his administration.
“Russia is a ruse,” he told a room full of reporters — and America. He wants the attention focused instead on what he called criminal intelligence leaks and not on his ousted national security adviser, who became embroiled in a job-ending controversy after he spoke to a Russian ambassador before Trump took office.
Among the topics discussed in those telephone conversations: U.S. sanctions by the Obama administration on Russia. When asked, Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about the sanctions part of the conversations. He was fired.
Still, President Trump believes the concern over ties with Russia are an attempts by opponents to question the veracity of his presidential victory.
“This nonsense of the Russian connection is simply an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in the defeated Hillary Clinton campaign,” he tweeted.
Well, we do not believe it to be so.
This issue has nothing to do with mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The reality is that the resignation of the ephemeral Flynn is not enough to contain the scandal. The FBI is hovering over new reports of Trump advisers’ having contacts with Russian officials during the elections and GOP-led congressional committees are pondering probes. FBI Director James Comey was called to Congress on Friday.
Among them lawmakers calling for more thorough investigations is Sen. John McCain. He feels Flynn’s resignation raised serious questions and at the same time concerns about nation’s security as Trump searches for a replacement for Flynn.
And McCain added that it must be determined whether the investigation into the Flynn case should be expanded. Yes, the investigation should be expanded.
The Russian connection that Trump attempts to downplay could be more serious than many people think, despite President Trump’s assertion that he has no business or personal contacts in Russia and as far as he knows of, no one else on his team does either.
We must get to the bottom of the matter, for the sake of the nation and for the public’s peace of mind. And Trump must understand that he is no longer in the electoral campaign, but in full function as president. A reality lost as this weekend he scheduled two campaign-like events, one in South Carolina and another in Melbourne, Florida.
He must understand that investigating the Russian connection is not a cover-up related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and implying in a Friday tweet that the media, not Russia, is the enemy of the American people is shameful.
It is an examination into renegade contacts with officials of a foreign power who intervened in the American elections. And that investigation must be carried to its ultimate consequences for the sake of democracy.