4. Trump picked people with ties to Russia. He named as a foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who was investigated by the F.B.I. as far back as 2013 for possible ties to Russian intelligence
To run his campaign, Trump selected Paul Manafort, who had long experience working for Russian interests and once wrote a memo offering a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”
Trump’s aides also tweaked the Republican Party platform in a way that would please Moscow.
6. Trump aides secretly met with Russians. In June 2016, Russia offered the Trump campaign “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Instead of calling the F.B.I., Donald Trump Jr. responded, “I love it,”
.. 7. A Trump ally secretly communicated with a Russian mouthpiece. In August 2016, Trump ally Roger Stone communicated with Guccifer 2.0, believed to be an outlet for Russian military intelligence. Separately, Stone tweeted that “it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in a barrel”; seven weeks later, WikiLeaks began releasing emails Russia had hacked from John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
.. 8. … more secret contacts. WikiLeaks, presumably representing Russian interests, engaged in secret correspondence with Donald Trump Jr.
.. 9. Kushner met a Putin ally. Jared Kushner met in December 2016 with a Russian, Sergey Gorkov, who is close to Putin. Kushner also privately asked the Russians about using Russian equipment to establish a secret communications channel to the Kremlin.
.. 10. Trump aides falsely denied contacts. Campaign officials denied innumerable times that there had been any contact with Russia. “Of course not,” said Mike Pence shortly before the inauguration. “Why would there be any contacts?”
.. 11. Russia is still at it. Russian bots are joining Trump supporters in tweeting hashtags like #MAGA and #FullOfSchiff. These same Russian bots are promoting Fox News links that disparage the Russia investigation.
.. 12. This is not normal!
Actually, I doubt that there was anything so straightforward as a secret quid pro quo. Indeed, some of these links are so blatant that they seem confusingly exculpatory: Why would anybody conspiring with Putin raise suspicions by publicly praising him?
.. Frankly, it’s suspicious that Trump is throwing up so much dust and trying so hard to delegitimize the investigation.
He is not acting innocent.☐
Obama’s logic of self-restraint is sympathetic. He first of all clearly believes that one President should grant another a period of grace, as Presidents almost always do—George W. Bush, to his credit, lent a long one to him—and that is, in anything resembling a normal oscillation of political power, appropriate and correct. But this is not a normal time; it is a national emergency. Trump long ago disposed of the notion of normal constitutional courtesy when, without a shred of evidence or truth, he accused Obama of “wiretapping” him—i.e., committing a grave crime.
.. That the instigation of the violence in Charlottesville was exclusively at the hands of the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates does not alter the truth that, historically, one side’s violence produces another’s. Leftists, infatuated as they are sometimes tempted to be with a renewed rhetoric of “street action,” need to be reminded that such violence in American history has always worked to the advantage of the wrong side.
.. In liberal democracies, non-violent mass protest can be an astonishingly efficient engine of reform; the threat or fact of violence empowers only its enemies.
.. What the dissenting, or “resisting,” side needs is exactly what Obama can help supply: principled leadership from as close to a universally respected figure as one could hope to find.
.. One imagines Obama, with his usual rhetorical deftness, making the point that the neo-secessionists and the neo-Nazis are not merely extraneous, obnoxious fringe groups—they represent exactly the enemies whom Americans united to defeat in their two most consequential wars. We are not merely combatting the enemy within; we are reaffirming what unifies us in history by carrying the fight forward.