Donald Trump and the GOP are desperately trying to quash further scrutiny into his administration’s ties to Russia, scrutiny that has only intensified since the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over leaks that he discussed lifting sanctions with a Russian diplomat after the election. Democrats, and yes, a few Republicans are calling for independent investigations, but no one has been as vocal in their criticism as California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
After a confidential briefing to Congress on Russian hacking by FBI Director James Comey in January, Waters tersely told reporters that Comey “has no credibility.” At 21 seconds, Elle called her remarks the “the world’s quickest and sassiest press conference.”
On Chris Hayes’ show last week, Waters said that Trump and his circle of friends with connections to Russia and the fossil fuel industry are “a bunch of scumbags... who are all organized around making money.” The target of her ire was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, who previously negotiated a $500 billion deal with Putin to drill in the Arctic — a deal blocked by sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for the Russian intervention in the Ukraine.
Following up on these statements at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta last weekend, I asked Rep. Waters if lifting sanctions was the most audacious quid pro quo in history: the presidency for petroleum. In short, she thinks Trump colluded with Russia on lifting sanctions DURING the presidential campaign. That timeline would be critically different from the post-election conversations Flynn had in December. If Waters is right, that collusion may lay the groundwork for Donald Trump’s impeachment.