By Mark Sumner Tuesday Feb 14, 2017 · 9:13 AM USMST
When Donald Trump slithered down that escalator in 2015 to announce he was running for president, he brought with him two decades of connections to Russia. By the time the primaries were winding down, he’d acquired a collection of staff and advisers who were not just Russophiles, but fans of autocrat Vladimir Putin. Chief among them were Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Michael Flynn.
Manafort is gone. Page is gone. Flynn is gone.
That leaves one major figure in the Trump regime who has multiple connections to Russia, who has made multiple statements praising Vladimir Putin, who has made multiple visits to Moscow, who has appeared on Russian media, who has strong financial ties to Russia, who has talked repeatedly of lowering the sanctions that would give Russia a windfall of oil and gas profit.
His name is Donald Trump.
...it’s increasingly obvious that Russia is the only story that frightens Trump. It’s been that way from the beginning. Any time the media has begun to focus too closely on Trump’s association with Russian crime bosses, his previous statements of a personal connection to Putin, or his son’s acknowledgement that a large portion of their funds were coming from Russia, Trump has tossed out a fresh outrage to divert the media.
But Trump has claimed a past personal relationship with Putin, including meeting him in person and speaking with him by phone.
Trump was saved from bankruptcy by an infusion of Russian funds that propped up his failing business and allowed him to maintain a facade of “wealth.” Afterward, Trump lied about the scope of these connections.