U.S. Politics

The Americans, season 5, episode 1


Paul Manafort (center) is accused of talking with Russian intelligence during the campaign.

Brooks Kraft/Getty Images

VOX SENTENCES (from my inbox)

  • There are roughly three distinct scandals regarding the relationship between the Trump administration and the Russian government (Russia’s alleged attempts to intervene in the election to help Trump; calls between ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; and rumored blackmail material Russia might have on Trump). They’re rapidly metastasizing into one. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Most recently, the New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump campaign officials had repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials during the presidential campaign — which is not something that presidential campaigns typically do with foreign countries’ intelligence services. [NYT / Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo]
  • There’s no evidence that they discussed Russia’s involvement in the campaign. That’s plausible because so many members of Trump’s inner circle had preexisting relationships with Russian officials. Which itself raises a lot of questions. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Flynn, for example, could have been freelancing when he hinted to Kislyak that Trump would lift sanctions on Russia. But he also could have been in contact with Trump on the subject, or even acting on Trump’s direction. The point is we don’t know for sure. [The Atlantic / Uri Friedman]
  • The Trump administration, of course, claims no one but Flynn had any involvement. But since they can’t keep their stories straight about what happened to Flynn — press secretary Sean Spicer claims he lost Trump’s trust, while Trump himself praised Flynn and blamed government leakers for his ouster — it is not clear that the administration should be believed. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Trump (and Flynn) isn’t entirely wrong. The anti-Trump leaks are definitely motivated, at least in part, by people in the intelligence services trying to rein Trump in. It’s just that the intelligence community is totally outplaying the White House. [Foreign Policy / Marc Ambinder]
  • The irony is that as all this is happening, the Trump administration’s actual policy toward Russia isn’t softening much. It’s now calling for Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine — something Russia has absolutely no intention of doing. [Reuters / Ayesha Rascoe]
  • Russia, for its part, is sending Atlantic spy ships farther north and closer to the US than ever before. [CNN / Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr]


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