The Russian influence scandal engulfing the White House deepened dramatically on Tuesday night with reports that some of Donald Trump’s campaign aides had frequent contact with Russian intelligence officials over the course of last year.
A report in the New York Times came nearly 24 hours after the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington and misleading statements about them to the press and vice-president Mike Pence.
The New York Times report cites four current and former US intelligence officials who are unnamed and who conceded they had “so far” seen no evidence in the intercepted phone communications that Trump campaign officials had cooperated with Russian intelligence in Moscow’s efforts to skew the election in Trump’s favour. The officials do not explain what, in that case, the contacts were about.
A CNN report said “high-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence”.
Add in that Trump knew about Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador for quite some time before the story went public. My own guess -- and I'm not alone in this -- is that Flynn's resignation is the direct result of the story breaking.
From Dan Rather, who knows a little bit about this sort of thing:
Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now. It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now. On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour. And we may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.
Gods, what a mess.
Addendum: This is the sort of thing that needs to be pinned very firmly to the Republicans, especially considering that they're MIA on it. Witness a couple of reactions:
Speaker Ryan declines to call for congressional investigation into Gen. Flynn; says need to get more info before rushing to judgment.— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) February 14, 2017
You know what's a great way to get more information before you make judgments? AN INVESTIGATION YOU COLOSSAL FUCKWIT https://t.co/rzlgqBzpaP— Rogue Rogue One Acct (@ZeddRebel) February 14, 2017
And Ryan is the GOP's great policy wonk and knight in shining armor?
.@SenOrrinHatch says Flynn resignation doesn't "deserve" investigation. "I think highly of him, he's a hero of this country for many years"— Jacqueline Klimas (@jacqklimas) February 14, 2017
That speaks for itself.
Rep Jason Chaffetz R-UT tells reporters there's no need to further probe Flynn. "It’s taking care of itself"— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) February 14, 2017
I'm sure Chaffetz is deciding whether to investigate Beghazi or E-mails. Again.