On The Rachel Maddow Show on March 10, Maddow connected some more dots between the U.S. and its relation with Russia. But the question remains: are the allegations of Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election and communication with the Trump administration a Democratic witch hunt, or an actual conspiracy?
The Russian government has been recognized as committing several human-rights infringements on its citizens, including restricting freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association, according to Human Rights Watch. Yet President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have publicly complimented each other on their respective successes. For our current administration, one that supposedly represents a nation built on freedom of speech and democracy, to be associated with a foreign government that values neither of those things is unsettling.
Before the Republican National Convention (RNC) took place last July, the Trump campaign kept the party’s platform virtually identical to what it was in past years except for one detail: the new RNC platform does not require the U.S. to provide Ukraine with weapons to resist Russian intervention, which it did in the past. Both Trump and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort—who has his own history of ties with Russia—denied involvement in the “softening,” as Trump called it, of the GOP’s policy with regards to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Maddow reported on her show that a week after the altering of the GOP platform in a way that favored Russia, WikiLeaks released documents hacked from the DNC. While one could argue these two events are merely coincidental, additional evidence has surfaced since the RNC that suggest more than a coincidence.
Politico reported that Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian operative, has attracted the attention of U.S. and Ukraine because he stated that he visited the U.S. twice in 2016: once in April to meet with Manafort, and the second time during the summer, when he implied that he was involved in the altering of the GOP platform for the RNC.
JD Gordon, former Director of National Security for the Trump Campaign, admitted not only to advocating for the changed RNC platform, but that he was instructed by President Trump, who declined involvement in the platform change, to do so.
Maddow also reported that a foreign policy advisor for Trump, Carter Paige, who has expressed support for some of Putin’s policies, was approved by Trump’s team to visit Russia last July—but not as an unofficial campaign representative—one week before the altering of the GOP’s platform.
Trump had said “I love WikiLeaks” on October 10, which was after Wikileaks had released documents hacked from the DNC on July 22. Many are of the opinion that these documents were hacked from the DNC by Russian intelligence. It was also after WikiLeaks released emails sent or received by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta on October 7. And recently, WikiLeaks, which has never leaked information about the Russian government, released documents containing information about the CIA’s internal espionage three days after President Trump accused former president Obama of ordering a wiretapping of him.
This debate over the Trump-Russia relation has led to the resignation of Michael Flynn, former national security advisor, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescuing himself after it was discovered that he lied under oath when asked if he had met with Russian officials. President Trump has proposed a budget cut of 37 percent for the State Department, which would significantly impact the U.S. global presence with regards to foreign aid and allow a country like Russia more freedom to carry out its authoritarian agenda. This evidence just doesn’t seem coincidental anymore. But why does this matter? Trump’s administration is diverting from the traditional Republican platform—and even the U.S.’s history of foreign policy—with its accommodations towards Russia.