Conservative columnist: if Trump isn't a Russian agent, 'he is doing a pretty good imitation of one'
On Friday, The New York Times revealed that the FBI probe now run by special counsel Robert Mueller investigated President Donald Trump as a Russian asset, starting in the aftermath of the president's decision to fire FBI director James Comey.
But this is not a surprise to Max Boot, a conservative opponent of Trump. In an editorial for the Washington Post in Sunday, Boot outlined examples of how Trump's history and behavior makes him look like he prioritizes Russian interests over American ones.
Among the reasons Boot cites: $109 billion in all-cash purchases of Trump real estate properties by people in the former Soviet Union; Trump's alleged attempts to build in Moscow during the campaign; Trump's urging of Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails on the campaign trail on the same day that Russia-linked hackers tried to do exactly that; dozens of contacts between the campaign and Russian operatives including the infamous Trump Tower meeting; his campaign manager Paul Manafort sharing poll data with a Russian intelligence operative while in debt to a Russian oligarch; his adviser Roger Stone's alleged advance notice of the Russia-linked WikiLeaks dump of the Podesta emails; Trump bragging to the Russian ambassador about how the Comey firing took pressure off of him in the Russia investigation; Trump's refusal to consistently acknowledge Russian interference in the election and attacks on U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials who offer evidence they did; Trump's praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the right-wing puppet dictators he supports; Trump's attacks on institutions like the European Union and NATO that challenge Putin's power; Trump's total servility to Putin at the Helsinki meeting; Trump's support for Russian military aggression both past and present; and Trump's pro-Russia foreign policy decisions like withdrawing from Syria.
None of this is absolute proof Trump is a Russian agent, writes Boot. But it is strong evidence that, at the very least, he is an unwitting tool of Russia's global interests:
This is hardly a "beyond a reasonable doubt" case that Trump is a Russian agent — certainly not in the way that Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames were. But it is a strong, circumstantial case that Trump is, as former acting CIA director Michael Morell and former CIA director Michael V. Hayden warned during the 2016 campaign, "an unwitting agent of the Russian federation" (Morell) or a "useful fool" who is "manipulated by Moscow" (Hayden). If Trump isn't actually a Russian agent, he is doing a pretty good imitation of one.
For all of Trump's bluster about "America first," it is hard to argue that Trump has furthered the cause of any other country more than Russia on the world stage.