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Important Questions for President Trump on Russia

Questions and loose ends remain about Flynn, Page, Stone, Manafort and the Trump organisation's ties to Russia.

Since the birth of the Trump presidency, allegations around both his team’s and his own ties to Russia have encircled the new administration. After the head of national security, Michael Flynn, resigned new questions and concerns are swelling up from the swamp.

Unproven allegations remain of the Trump team’s co-operation with Russia during the 2016 campaign, the potential exposure to Russian blackmail and that he may be on the take from the Russian government.

The evidence for these charges is very thin, however, the plethora of small questions that they throw up could be a cause for concern when all taken together.

The three main issues:

The answers to these questions might tell us why the president is continuously distancing himself from his associates, and why he won’t properly disclose his financial documents or tax returns, and why he is taking a very strange foreign policy angle with regards to Russia and Putin.

Michael Flynn

A well respected Army officer who was chosen by Trump to run National Security. He was then fired after the Washington Post broke the news that inside sources confirmed he had been speaking with the Russian ambassador about sanctions when he and the Vice President had previously declared this not to be true.

Trump said he fired Flynn because he lost trust after he misled the Vice President – although Trump himself kept the Vice President in the dark, unless they all knew – but he said the conduct of making the call was ok.

Carter Page

An American businessman with a long history of deals in Russia. Nobody had seemed to have heard of him when Trump named him as a member of his national security team.

His ties to Trump dissolved rapidly after the ‘Steele dossier’ exposed Trump’s alleged ties to Russia through Page to the point where Trump consistently downplayed the level of contact they had with each other.

Roger Stone

A veteran Republican Party political operative dating back to the Nixon administration – a long time friend of Trump’s, his role in the Trump campaign was unclear however he seemed to be strikingly in the know about WikiLeaks, and anonymously sourced articles have suggested ties to Russian government officials.

Paul Manafort

An old-line Republican Party operative who offered consulting and lobbying services aboard including Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, Moscow’s main vehicle for influence in Ukraine.

The Trump Organisation

Trump’s financial disclosure forms do little to actually disclose any information about his finances, only showing that he is the owner or partial owner of several LLCs that together constitute the Trump Organisation.

These are privately held “pass-through” entities, whose profits and losses show up on the individual income taxes of their owners – Trump and his partners, which have not been disclosed – meaning we have no idea how his business operate or where the money comes from.

Trump’s policy on Russia

Before Trump, the overwhelming majority of Republicans felt that Obama was too soft on Russia. Trump has seemingly reversed this trend, mostly because Republicans lack the spine to stand up to the new president. But this trend is alarming.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” doesn’t often apply to politics. Politicians lie to avoid embarrassment, rather than to cover up anything illegal or genuinely nefarious.

It’s entirely possible that all these questions have simple and innocent answers, but it’s also entirely possible that they do not. However, Trump’s unwillingness to answer any of them satisfactorily does not make it any better for him.