The White House insists that President Donald Trump was never informed of the intelligence reports – which begs the question of why, if this is true, it could be. However, on Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that President Trump had indeed been informed of the Russian bonuses in February – three months before unilaterally offering to invite Russia to the G7 meetings.
At the very least, this corresponds to a long scheme according to which Trump and his team avoid confrontation with Vladimir Putin, despite constant provocations.
It also provides just the most recent and urgent example of why so much is supported by the Supreme Court ruling on whether Trump’s taxes and business records can be turned over to members of the House of Representatives and the New York District Attorney. The decision is expected this week.
This is perhaps the most followed Supreme Court decision of this session, with massive implications for the separation of powers and the ability of American voters to make a fully informed decision in the November presidential election. .
Trump has, of course, broken with decades of precedent by refusing to publish his tax returns, often making up false excuses as to why he can’t do it (among them, that he is subjected to what would be most long tax audit recorded) history). The truth is that he did everything he could to avoid showing his finances to the American people, the Department of Justice of Attorney General Bill Barr now acting as the President’s personal attorney.
As CNN legal analyst Elie Honig points out, “In total, six different federal courts – three district courts and three courts of appeal – heard these cases, and all six ruled against Trump.” In addition, the court cases resulting from corruption in the administration of Warren G. Harding – known as the Teapot Dome scandal – appear to apply directly. A subsequent law of 1924 stipulates that the Secretary of the Treasury “will supply” the tax information requested by the appropriate congressional committee, which Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, has refused to do, without any “legitimate legislative objective”.
But there is a clear public and legislative interest in whether Trump has hidden trade relations with the Russians, which could explain his strange but persistent reluctance to confront Vladimir Putin on clear issues of American national interest.
Before Trump’s political career, his son Eric repeatedly boasted that he could bypass American banks – many of which refused to do business with the Trump organization – because the company could get all the money it needed from Russia. In 2008, his son Don Jr. said at a conference on real estate: “The Russians are a pretty disproportionate sample of a lot of our assets … we see a lot of money flowing from Russia.” And Reuters reported that 63 Russians had invested nearly $ 100 million in Trump buildings.
Russia has a notorious reputation for money laundering and two common destinations are luxury real estate and casinos – both of which the Trump organization has operated in the past.
It is far from being an academic concern. CNN has counted no less than 25 times that President Trump has been strangely sweet to Russia – to deny that Moscow interfered in the US elections for its profit, to suggest that it could keep the conquered Ukrainian province of Crimea, to undermine sanctions from the Obama era, to withdraw US troops from Syria, to congratulate pro-Russian leaders in Europe, to reprimand NATO.
In addition, we have seen a pattern of administration officials being told not to talk about Russia and allegations of electoral interference to the president. Former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Neilsen has been warned not to report the concern that the Russians will meddle in the 2020 elections because he would react badly. Former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told another senior administration official that “this is not a big issue and should be kept below its level”.
True to form, when the news of the Russian bonuses broke, the White House ignored the substance and refused to speak of reprisals against Russia. Instead, as CNN’s Marshall Cohen pointed out in a factual analysis of comments by the White House press secretary: “Throughout his press conference, (Kayleigh) McEnany spent more time criticizing American journalists only to condemn Russia for its aggressive actions against American interests, which premiums in Afghanistan, electoral interference in 2016 and military actions in Syria and Ukraine. ”
“It smells like the WH trying to mislead the public,” added Susan Hennessey, CNN national security analyst, regarding the administration’s reaction. “It’s common for different news agencies to have different degrees of trust depending on how different the underlying information is; it’s not the same as disagreing that something’s is produced. “
Judicial observers warn that there is no guarantee that President Trump’s business records or taxes will soon be seen by the public, even if he loses both cases in the court ruling. New York district attorney Cy Vance, for example, issued summonses to appear for Trump’s taxes as part of a Grand Jury investigation and this information is believed to be closely held by the court. But accountability will lead to more transparency than we had in the past on an urgent question that continues to confuse even some of Trump’s allies: why does Trump continue to praise Putin despite constant provocations?
The American people deserve to know the truth about Trump and Russia. And to find the truth, we have to follow the money. The Supreme Court could soon decide whether the truth – or partisan politics – will prevail before the American people go to the polls in November.