Editorial: Investigate the Trump-Russia connection

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin AP

Published: 12/18/2016 12:05:08 AM

There is a tool of thought called Occam’s razor, which suggests that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. For example, when you can’t find your phone, what assumption makes more sense: that you misplaced it or that someone broke into your home while you were showering and stole it?

Conspiracy theories, such as climate change being a hoax perpetrated by those who stand to profit from renewable energy or that the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were an inside job, embrace the opposite principle, where the most cynical and tangled answer is the correct one.

The simplest explanation doesn’t always end up being right – maybe somebody did steal your phone – but it is the best place to start. So where would Occam’s razor have us begin when it comes to Donald Trump and Russia?

Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent and current president of Russia, made his preference for Trump clear during the presidential election, which nobody disputes.

Putin is no fan of Hillary Clinton, who has been harshly critical of him and rightfully so. His list of offenses include the fraudulent 2012 Russian presidential election, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, efforts to destabilize Europe through propaganda, cyberattacks and missile placement, and the slaughter of civilians in Syria, including the bombing of hospitals and schools, in support of the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad.

For a decade, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, telling CNN’s Larry King in 2007 that the Russian president is “doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.” In December 2015, Trump reciprocated Putin’s praise of him by saying “it is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” And the kicker: More than a year after Russia annexed Crimea, Trump told a stunned interviewer that Russia was “not going into Ukraine.”

Several members of Trump’s campaign and presidential teams have been revealed to have strong ties to Russia, such as former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former adviser Carter Page, and now Trump’s choices for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

And then there’s Trump’s advance knowledge of Kremlin propaganda published by Russian news outlets and a bombshell tweet from adviser Roger Stone saying “Wednesday
@HillaryClinton is done” well before the WikiLeaks release of stolen Democratic National Committee emails.

That brings us to the likelihood that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign to improve the odds of a Trump presidency.

The CIA, for one, believes that’s exactly what Russian hackers, possibly under the direction of Putin, were trying to accomplish. The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17-agency U.S. intelligence community, are less convinced of intent but they don’t dispute the CIA assessment. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, are joining Democrats in calling for a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s actions. And on Wednesday, the New York Times published a thorough investigation into Russian involvement in the DNC hack and the U.S. government’s inadequate response.

Here’s what President-elect Trump says about all of the evidence: “It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.”

It doesn’t matter what Trump believes. Any reasonable person can see that there is enough information to warrant a deeper look at Russian interference in the presidential race and several congressional contests, including the 1st District race here in New Hampshire.

The conspiracy theory says the countless Trump-Russia links are the invention of a diverse coalition of Trump haters and sore losers; Occam’s razor points to a troubling relationship between a new U.S. presidential administration with many financial interests in Russia and that nation’s thuggish leader, who has expansionist ambitions and a hatred for Hillary Clinton. The simple explanation is that Putin and Trump are bound by their insatiable greed – for money, power and revenge.

A thorough congressional investigation is necessary, and any elected or appointed official who doesn’t believe that is a danger to this country.


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