#TrumpLovesPutin could be the hashtag.
First there was Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired from his job as the military’s top spy, leading the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn went to Moscow in December 2015 to “five star treatment” at the hands of Russia Today. Then there was Paul Manafort, whose Russian business ties and boot-stomping dictator client list raised plenty of eyebrows.
And let’s not forget that Trump graciously accepted Putin’s calling him “brilliant.”
Now a Trump adviser has actually met with “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow, according to a report by Yahoo News’ investigative journalist Michael Isikoff. Not just “high ranking,” but in fact people in charge of gathering intelligence about the U.S. election.
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”
Trump named page among five advisers “that we are dealing with,” Isikoff reported.
Democrats in the House and Senate are jumping all over this. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking minority members of their respective intelligence committees, released a joint statement accusing Russia of tampering with our election.
“Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,” they said. “At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election.” They added that “orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.”
Page was a Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow before turning to his own consulting firm, Global Energy Capital, “ocated around the corner from Trump Tower, that specializes in oil and gas deals in Russia and other Central Asian countries.” Not one bit suspicious, there.
Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.
While in Moscow, U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Page met with a top Putin aide, Igor Diveykin, who serves as deputy chief for internal policy. Intelligence officials believe Diveykin is responsible for Russian agencies collecting intelligence about the U.S. election.
Nice. Now Trump will have to say something racist or sexist or start a flame war with a news anchor to draw attention from this latest installment of “To Russia With Love.”