Why the Latest Russia News Paints sn Increasingly Grim Picture for Trump
By Aaron Blake
June 7, 2017 at 6:30 AM
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As top intelligence and law enforcement officials testify in front of Congress this week, one big question looms: Did President Trump attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation?
The Post’s Adam Entous reported late Tuesday night that Trump in March asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene in the Russia investigation by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the agencys focus on Michael Flynn. Coats reportedly told associates about Trump’s request shortly afterward.
This, of course, is not the first time Trump has been reported to have made apparently unsavory requests of Coats and other top officials (up to and including, most notably, Comey). The Post had previously reported Trump approached Coats and National Security Agency head Michael Rogers in a failed effort to get them to say publicly that there was no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It has also been reported that Trump approached Comey in February about ending the Flynn investigation, according to contemporaneous notes kept by Comey.
But here’s why the latest news is particularly bad for Trump: It erases any idea that the Comey request was just a one-off. We have now learned that Comey isn’t the only top official whom Trump approached in an effort to free Flynn from his investigation.
The question from there becomes why why did Trump feel so strongly about getting Flynn off the hook? And there are basically two good answers to that question:
Trump is excessively loyal to Michael Flynn, to a fault
Trump fears what could come of the Flynn investigation
Put plainly: The president known for his “You’re fired” catchphrase as a reality TV star hasn’t exactly shown that excessive loyalty is among his chief faults. Could he perhaps be uniquely loyal to Flynn for some reason? It’s possible. But against this backdrop it would seem odd that Flynn would be the one Trump aide whom the president seems to be unwilling to toss under the bus when it made sense to, politically speaking. (The White House has been quick to distance itself from almost every other aide facing scrutiny in the Russia probe.)
The most charitable reading of all of this is that an amateur politician-president driven by personal loyalty and ignorance went too far in trying to get intelligence officials to vouch for him and help out a friend. But Tuesday night’s report is the latest brushstroke in what, through Trump’s own doing, looks more and more like a cover-up.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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