If U.S. President Donald Trump was inclined to be tentative when raising election meddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking in 2016 has made that approach a much harder sell.
A federal grand jury on Friday alleged that officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, secretly monitored computers and stole data from the campaign of Trump’s former rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The charges put an even greater spotlight on Trump’s treatment of Putin, who has denied making efforts to intervene in the U.S. election that Trump, a Republican, unexpectedly won.
Tony Schwartz, who ghost wrote Trump’s 1987 bestseller, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ says that Trump has likely been an “asset” of the Russian government for at least 30 years.
In a tweet linking to Jonathan Chait’s extensive article in New York Magazine entitled, “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?” Schwartz slams Trump as “America’s enemy.”
Donald Trump has called the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow a “witch hunt” and has shown an eagerness to get along with his Russian counterpart, repeatedly referring to the former KGB leader’s denials of such behavior.
“Trump has maybe a little less room to maneuver if he wants to downplay the issue or pretend that it’s not real,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, a Russia expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Trump has said he plans to raise the issue. When asked at a news conference in Britain on Friday whether he would tell Putin to stay out of U.S. elections, Trump said “yes”.
But the president indicated he did not expect much progress on the issue. “I will absolutely bring that up,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it. I did it. You got me.’” Read more
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