April 25, 2019


The Press Didn't Just Report Accurately on Trump-Russia Corruption. It Prevented the Corruption From Being Worse. (BEN MATHIS-LILLEY, APRIL 25, 2019, sLATE)

What the Russians at the June 9 meeting specifically wanted to discuss with Trump's advisers was their government's interest in getting the U.S. to lift sanctions that prevent Russian officials, oligarchs, and/or organized crime figures from using the American financial system. And June 9 wasn't the only attempt to broach this issue: Campaign chairman Paul Manafort discussed a sanctions-related Ukraine "peace plan" in August 2016 with one of his former business partners, Konstantin Kilimnik, who had connections to Russian military intelligence. Additionally, eventual Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn served as an "adviser" until June 2016 to a company that was developing a plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East in collaboration with Russian partners, a plan that would have required the U.S. to lift certain sanctions.

As is documented at length in Mueller's report, during the presidential transition period Flynn told Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that the Trump administration did not want to escalate sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed against Russia over its election interference. A former State Department official who dealt with sanctions has also said publicly that Trump officials began initiating plans to rescind other sanctions against Russia immediately after Trump's inauguration. Those efforts subsequently died under heavy political pressure, however. After the Washington Post broke the news of Flynn's conversation with Kislyak, he was eventually forced out of office--and more broadly, as the New Yorker has reported, the administration's efforts to strike a sanctions-easing agreement with Russia died because of "the looming Mueller investigation" and because "members of Congress were pushing at the time to expand sanctions against Russia, not reduce them." Says the New Yorker: "Trump told aides that he was frustrated that he could not make progress because of political opposition in Washington." That political opposition, of course, existed because even Republican senators were responding to what John McCain described as "Russia's attack on American democracy"--a subject that had been covered since June 2016 in press accounts of Russian propaganda and hacking operations whose details would go on to be confirmed by multiple Mueller indictments and documented in his report.

Posted by at April 25, 2019 6:52 PM