Putin Would Be A Much Worse Problem For Trump Than Adderall Or Even Cocaine
A NYTimes intrepid team of reporters-- Patrick Healy, Ashley Parker and the indefatigable Maggie Haberman-- talked to a gaggle of Trump advisors who are tiptoeing through the mine-field of getting a little teensy-weensy pivot out of Trump about how he approaches debates. "A delicate approach to the candidate," they wrote, "is now in the works. Before his advisers can shape Mr. Trump’s performance for the next debate, on Oct. 9 in St. Louis-- which, contrary to speculation, he does plan to attend, a top aide said — they need to convince him that he can do better than he did in the first one and that only a disciplined, strategic attack can damage Mrs. Clinton with voters." No one wanted to mention Trump's obvious drug problem and how it manifested itself Monday night but, they reported that "even as Mr. Trump’s advisers publicly backed him on Tuesday and praised his debate performance, they were privately awash in second-guessing about why he stopped attacking Mrs. Clinton on trade and character issues and instead grew erratic, impatient and subdued as the night went on. In interviews, seven campaign aides and advisers, most of whom sought anonymity to speak candidly, expressed frustration and discouragement over their candidate’s performance Monday night."
But Trump may have bigger problems than his horrible demeanor or an addiction to cocaine dating back to his man-about-town Studio 54 days. Most Americans are unaware of Trump's close ties to Russia but they have told pollsters that that would be a deal breaker. A national post-convention poll from the very end of July shows that "the Vladimir Putin/Russia issue has the potential to cause Donald Trump a lot of problems in the weeks ahead. Only 7% of Americans view Putin favorably to 69% with a negative opinion and only 14% see Russia as a whole favorably to 52% with a negative view. By a 47 point margin-- 5% more likely, 52% less likely-- voters say they're less likely to vote for a candidate if it's perceived Russia is interfering in the election to try to help them. And by a 26 point margin-- 9% more likely, 35% less likely-- they're less likely to vote for a candidate seen as being friendly toward Russia. If Democrats can effectively leverage this issue in the weeks ahead it has the potential to help turn this into a more lopsided race."
Watch Olbermann-- the tip of the spear-- up top and look at the independent ad that started running today at the bottom. Many people claim-- and with good reason-- that Trump is willing to take a pummeling for not releasing his tax returns because they would disprove his assurances that he has no binding ties to Russia. Even the ultra-conservative Arizona Republic cited Trump's Russia/Putin problem when they endorsed Clinton this week, the first time they've endorsed a Democrat since their founding in 1890!
Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, a thug who has made it clear he wants to expand Russia’s international footprint.
Trump suggested Russia engage in espionage against Hillary Clinton-- an outrageous statement that he later insisted was meant in jest.
Michael Isikoff reported a few days ago that U.S. intelligence officials are trying to determine if a Trump campaign official, Carter Page, has promised close Putin cronies Igor Diveykin and Igor Sechin, that if Trump is elected president he will lift U.S. economic sanctions. That would be illegal.
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”
...Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.
He hasn’t been shy about expressing those views in the U.S. as well. Last March, shorty after he was named by Trump as one of his advisers, Page told Bloomberg News he had been an adviser to, and investor in, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. He then blamed Obama administration sanctions-- imposed as a response to the Russian annexation of Crimea-- for driving down the company’s stock. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in the interview. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.”
Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”
Hillary's campaign hasn't really taken up the Putin issue in a big way yet, but this ad above from some of her allies, meant for millennial voters and released today, is pretty strong tea:
Meanwhile, it looks like Putin's authoritarian regime wasn't the only one where Trump was sniffing around looking to make some money for himself irrespective of American policy, American interests and-- in this case-- American law. Cuban-American Republicans in Florida aren't likely to be too happy about this one. I wonder what Trump-supporting outliers Mario Diaz-Balart and Marco Rubio will say when they read Kurt Eichenwald's Newsweek story that starts by asserting that Trump "secretly conducted business in communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal."
Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company-- then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts-- how to make it appear legal by linking it after-the-fact to a charitable effort.
The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.
He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.