Trump’s Russian Roulette

It is easy to picture Donald Trump playing Russian roulette at this point. After lying his way up to the White House and instilling his brand of deception into every action during his seven weeks in power, can you imagine the “I alone can fix it” tough leader alienated of the potentially criminal actions of his close associates, currently being investigated for colluding with Russia? That the “America first” President could be a traitor is arguably the most serious accusation a person in his position could ever face.

As news around the world report the epic fail of the administration’s first bill to effectively repeal and replace Obamacare -Trump’s centerpiece campaign promise and policy priority number one for Republicans- it is easy to recognize that its collapse does not happen in a vacuum. As congressional, financial and intelligence investigations take form, new previously undisclosed information arises contradicting past assertions by the President and his closest associates that they have nothing to do with Russia.

Take Paul Manafort for starters. According to a story published last week by the Associated Press (AP), Trump’s campaign manager from March to August 2016 (a period that includes the National Republican Convention that secured the nomination in July) allegedly worked secretly from 2,006 to 2,009 for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska, with a plan to benefit the Putin Government by influencing politics, business dealings and news coverage in the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics. Trump asked Manafort to step down last year after, also AP, revealed that he had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine's ruling pro-Russian political party. Manafort’s business partner, Roger Stone, had a Twitter connection with an account allegedly linked to Russian hackers suspected of stealing information from the Democrats.

Following Manafort’s money trail has led US authorities to Cyprus, widely known as a Russian money laundering heaven, where Wilbur Ross, West Palm Beach resident and the new Commerce Secretary, presided over a deal with a Russian businessman with ties to Vladimir Putin while serving in his previous role as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. The Attorney General of Cyprus has reportedly handed over to US authorities some financial information that is being analyzed. It is yet to be seen if it will shine a light on Trump’s finances and the debt of Trump Organization (calculated at $300 millions) with Deutsche Bank, an institution currently investigated for Russian money laundering among other no less serious charges in the US. The FBI has instructed newly appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to stay away from the Deutsche Bank cases, for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, Michael T. Flynn is silent and there is currently wide speculation about the possibility of him cutting a deal with authorities to become witness in a potential criminal investigation. The retired US Army lieutenant general, first national security advisor appointed by the administration, was forced to resign after information surfaced indicating that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature and content of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.

Now the Senate Intelligence Commission wants to interview Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, a close adviser, and the first top White House official that will have to explain meetings arranged with the same Russian ambassador, which took place during the transition, and according to the New York Times included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

That Putin orchestrated a masterful checkmate to the American people by using an unscrupulous group of Americans aligned behind the dubious figure of Donald Trump is an idea that does not seem improbable anymore. The possibility of treason committed in exchange for power, money and influence seems real for some people, including Trump. At this point, with all the suspicious information at hand, the American people has all the right to know exactly what went on before the election and afterwards in regards to foreign intervention, specially if there are members of the political establishment, the financial and corporate elites, the alt-right, or the government entangled in conspiracy against the very country they owe loyalty to.

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