Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and strategic advisor, who stepped down in favor of Kelly Ann Conway when his business interests began to catch up with him, is back in the spot light. This time, leaked U.S. intelligence sources have identified Manafort as one of a few top Trump aids in contact extensively with Russian operatives during the Presidential campaign.
This revelation comes on the heals of Michael Flynn’s dismissal as National Security Advisor, following his own controversy over speaking to the Russians, and apparently lying about it to the Administration. Manafort, a long-time Washington lobbyist and political advisor, has represented Russian interests in the Ukraine. But he categorically denies speaking with Russian representatives at all during the campaign. His story contradicts leaked U.S. intelligence information.
The growing scandal surrounding Russian contact with top-level Trump advisors angers Democrats, but doesn’t appear to significantly phase Republicans, despite the obvious national security concerns. Since the Russian government has been implicated in a hacking scandal of DNC e-mails, which were publicly released, to the detriment of Hillary Clinton during the election, the recent revelations are of great interest to journalists and concerned citizens alike.
But it’s important to note that intelligence sources don’t know what the content of these communications actually was, and linkage to the hacking scandal remains speculative. However, those concerned with the President’s role want to know what he knew, precisely, and when he knew it—-questions echoing those asked of Richard Nixon during the Watergate years.
So, we are left to wonder, what on earth is going on in the Trump White House? Is there a connection between the e-mail hacking scandal and calls between Top White House aids and the Russians? If so that would be a serious national security breech, and a major ethical violation. If not, then why would they place so many calls to a foreign power at the height of a domestic election? Is Manafort lying or telling the truth about his actions? If he’s lying, what is he trying to cover up? And exactly how much does President Trump know about these events and goings on?