Questions, leading to answers, leading to more questions.
For the last two weeks, the words “Trump administration” and “Russia” have dominated the political news cycle. Everything from the much hyped James Comey testimony to yesterday’s surprisingly feisty testimony of Jeff Sessions, the information that is coming out on the Trump-Russia story can be overwhelming, if not downright confusing.
To better understand the entire ordeal thus far, we came up with four questions to better understand the entire Trump-Russia story.
Question 1: Based on last week’s testimony, was President Trump’s comments to Comey an obstruction of justice?
It depends on who you ask.
For the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans, Comey’s testimony doesn’t show that President Trump had obstructed justice because he didn’t tell him directly to drop the Russia-Trump investigation. While many others, including Comey himself, felt that President Trump was very clear in his request of “I hope you can let this go” meaning the dropping of Trump-Russia investigation.
But while you would think the differing perspectives would be divided on political lines, the reality is, even experts can’t agree on whether President Trump had directly tried to obstruct the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. That basically rests on whether you believe President Trump had fired Comey over his emphasis with the Trump-Russia investigation. For right now, how you view the situation entirely depends on who you believe; President Trump or Comey.
Question #2: Do the Trump Tapes actually exist?
President Trump insisting that there are tapes in regards to his conversations with James Comey give us all the same reaction.
But in all sincerity, the existence of these tapes really do matter. As of this writing, the conflicting accounts of President Trump and Comey have morphed into a “he-said-he-said” situation. These Trump Tapes would essentially clear the cloud of uncertainty around the entire Comey testimony. And while it’s appropriate to be skeptical on whether these “Trump Tapes” actually exist, it would be in everyone’s best interest if they were released.
Question #3: Would Congressional Republicans ever abandon the Trump administration?
Since Comey’s testimony last week, there has been a question of whether the idea of impeachment would be on the table. But based on the reaction of the GOP to last week’s testimony, that looks to be incredibly uncertain.
Trying to find something of substance in Comey’s opening statement like pic.twitter.com/igLC4JPREg
— GOP (@GOP) June 7, 2017
The chances of President Trump getting impeached while he’s in office, is almost impossible while Republicans control both the House and Senate. A big misconception of the impeachment process is that it’s a legal procedure, but in actuality, it’s strictly a parliamentary procedure (similar to how legislation is passed or how political appointments are confirmed). Realistically, for President Trump to be impeached, Democrats would have to win back both the House and Senate in the 2018 Midterm Elections.
Of course, party lines become a moot point if the public turns on the GOP due to their reluctance to deal with the Trump-Russia case. As of right now, even though President Trump has record-low approval ratings, congressional Republicans are still sticking by the Trump administration. That is until it becomes advantageous for them anyway.
Question #4: What was the nature of Jeff Sessions’ contacts with Russia?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified yesterday, in an open hearing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, over his contacts with the Russian government. As expected, Sessions vehemently denied that there were any more contacts with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, other than the ones he disclosed during his confirmation hearing for attorney general. Of course, this completely contradicts the statements that had been inferred through Comey’s testimony last week.
Similar to the President Trump and Comey dichotomy, in which both have been giving contradictory statements, Sessions’ is doing the same. While the investigation points to Sessions having much “deeper” interactions with Russian officials, he continues to insist that any contact with Russian officials were completely above bar. Also, determining the appropriateness of Sessions’ interactions with Russian officials goes further than that in trying to decipher whether he was meeting them as a US Senator or a surrogate of the Trump campaign.
During the hearing, Sessions’ kept using executive privilege as a shield in answering questions regarding his talks with President Trump. Add that to the question of appropriateness regarding Sessions’ talks with Russian officials and everything gets that much murkier.
(Photo Credits: Google Images)