There may be a major anti-Trump coup underway in the United States amid the allegations about his closeness with Russia. Something that was at the center of heated debates surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – the Russia leaks – could actually become the greatest political scandal in U.S. history, according to The Hill.
Trump addressed a White House news conference on Thursday, calling reports claiming that his campaign advisers had inappropriate contact with Russian officials “fake news.” He may have unknowingly found himself in the center of one of the most sophisticated conspiracies of all time.
Paul Schiff Berman, an opinion contributor at The Hill, argues that top Russian intelligence officials may have conspired with the Trump administration to interfere in the election results, get Trump elected President and undermine the country – Russia’s rival since the Cold War – from within. He suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin was probably involved as well.
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As reports about the Trump administration’s alleged contacts with Russia continue to leak out, some of the President’s top advisers may have committed treason to bring him down. While there is very little evidence that suggests such a theory could be reality, the U.S. could find itself in a very vulnerable position if an anti-Trump coup is actually underway.
Evidence for an anti-Trump coup: Russia’s conspiracy
There are, however, indisputable and chilling facts that make the theory suggesting that the Trump administration could secretly conspire with Russian intelligence officials to undermine the sitting President of the U.S. not so far-fetched after all. Phone records and intercepted calls unveiled by The New York Times suggest that top figures in Trump’s presidential campaign, transition team and new administration kept in touch with senior Russian intelligence officials in 2016.
Michael Flynn, who resigned from his position as National Security Adviser earlier this week after allegedly lying about his conversations with the Russians, became the third senior member of Trump’s team who had to step down due to alleged ties to Russia. In August 2016, the chairman of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, resigned and was replaced by now-chief strategist Steve Bannon.
A month later, a foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign, Carter Page, resigned after U.S. intelligence officials investigated alleged contacts between him and senior Russian officials. That could be either a coincidence or further evidence that the Trump administration conspired with the Russians.
Is Trump being played by his own administration?
In January, top U.S. intelligence agencies found links to one particular Russian intelligence operation that had contacts with senior members of the Trump team and also hacked the Clinton emails and leaked them to the public. The leak, which occurred just weeks before Election Day in November, is often called the most probable reason for Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss in the 2016 presidential race.
Furthermore, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Putin himself ordered that the emails be leaked in an attempt to help Trump win the election amid predictions that Clinton had more chances of winning the presidential race.
According to recent revelations, Flynn allegedly had regular contact with the Russians even after the election and provided classified information to Russian intelligence in an attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s sanctions against Russia for the alleged election hack.
While there is no evidence that the election hack or Flynn’s communications with the Russians were ordered by Trump or that he was aware of them, Flynn has become the third senior member his team to resign after the mounting allegations of secret conversations with Russian intelligence.
In fact, when Acting Attorney General Sally Yates claimed that Flynn had those illegal conversations, Trump didn’t launch an investigation looking into those alleged contacts. Instead, the U.S. President fired Yates just four days after her statements.
Trump could be hiding financial records because of Russia ties
Explaining Flynn’s resignation earlier this week, the White House said Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia and lied about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before Trump assumed office on January 20. That means the White House has fired Flynn for his lies and not because he could have broken the law or conspired with the Russians.
Referring to Flynn’s resignation during Thursday’s White House news conference, Trump said what his ousted national security adviser did “wasn’t wrong,” adding that he was “not happy” about how information about Flynn’s contacts with the Russians was relayed to Pence.
If Trump was indeed aware of his administration’s dealings with Russia or if they happened on his behalf, then his refusal to release his financial records makes more sense, Berman argues. As suggested by Sen. Chris Murphy earlier this week, Trump could be holding back his financial records because there is evidence of financial dealings with Russia or even direct payments from Russia.
During his heated presidential campaign, Trump attacked many foreign countries, but not Russia. All we heard from the then-presidential hopeful were praises for Russia and Putin’s leadership values. Trump has, on many occasions, pledged to fix relations between Washington and Moscow.
Trump-Russia saga is only beginning
While there’s little evidence to confirm or deny the allegations surrounding Trump’s ties to Russia, it’s believed that it is only beginning.
Experts argue that the allegations of the Trump administration’s conspiracy with the Russians are worrisome for a number of reasons. First, Russia is reportedly deploying missiles in violation of a landmark arms control treaty. Second, with the missiles, Putin might be challenging Trump amid the administration’s crisis over its ties to America’s traditional rival.
Third, if Trump is indeed being kept in the dark about his administration’s contacts with Russian intelligence, what is the plan of his team’s divergent members? Or if Trump is well aware of the conspiracy between his administration and the Russians, what are the two countries trying to achieve?
There are far too many unanswered questions at this point, but it’s fair to say that new revelations about the crisis pertaining to Trump’s ties to Moscow are slowly unraveling the mystery.