The New York Times Has Once Again Released a 'Bombshell' Report About Trump...This Time, It Involves the Russians
During the 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times made its mark by publishing 'bombshell' attacks against the Trump campaign.
A particularly damaging story from past sexual assault accusers, dropped as an “October Surprise,” looked like it could turn the tide of the election. Instead, the American people, inundated with accusation after accusation against Donald Trump, shrugged and went on to elect the real estate billionaire anyway.
The election is over, but The New York Times is unfazed. It has continued its dogged attack mode against the current president, even to the detriment of communicating to a broader audience the seriousness of its allegations.
Its report comes in the wake of the departure of one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn over dishonesty regarding a December phone call to the Russian ambassador that mentioned Obama administration sanctions. The scalp was claimed through the collaboration of national security leakers and inside-sourced journalists and is an alarming development within the Trump administration.
Now, there comes another report concerning Trump staff's phone calls to Russian officials, but this time it regards a sweeping investigation into the frequency of contacts between the campaign and the Russians. The details are sparse, the innuendo is high, but the accusations are worth considering — albeit with major caveats.
The New York Times reported [emphasis added]:
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.
This bears emphasis, since it is still widely believed among some Americans that the Trump administration and Russia colluded to “steal” the election from Hillary Clinton: after extensive FBI and intelligence agency investigations, there is still no concrete evidence of undue influence.
The article continued:
But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.
The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.
Once again, leakers with classified information are contacting The New York Times with stories that give the appearance of impropriety, yet that may or may not be the case. For example, the comment alluded to regarding then-candidate Trump hoping that Russian intelligence would unearth Hillary Clinton's emails is widely considered to be a joke.
The report addresses the activities of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman who has business relationships in Ukraine. Manafort has denied all wrongdoing. At least three other people are involved in the F.B.I. investigation:
The F.B.I. has closely examined at least three other people close to Mr. Trump, although it is unclear if their calls were intercepted. They are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign; Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative; and Mr. Flynn.
It is not unusual for a presidential campaign to make phone calls to foreign government officials, but The New York Times states that the F.B.I. was concerned about the Trump campaign's frequency of phone calls to foreign officials. Throughout the entire report, that seems to be the only concrete piece of new information regarding the Trump administration.
The NYT story comes at a time when the headline alone, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” would be sufficient enough to cast aspersions in the minds of those who would believe Trump either collaborated with Russia to steal the election or otherwise has a secret agreement with Vladimir Putin.
But as the American people have come to learn time and time again, the news media environment is long on accusation and innuendo but short on substantiated facts that the Trump administration has inappropriate ties to foreign governments or broke the law.