Donald Trump’s White House now arguably poses a clear and present danger to our republic. Multiple administration officials had successive contacts with the Russians during the election and Trump’s campaign was clearly interested in leveraging help from a foreign adversary to win the White House. At the very least, that means Trump officials who interacted with the Russians could be at risk for blackmail, just like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was after he publicly lied about the nature of his Russian contacts.
This is a legitimate concern and there’s nothing hypothetical about it anymore. As the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Tuesday afternoon:
“The most serious risk to the country, I think, is that the Russians possess compromising information—what they call kompromat—that can influence this president’s conduct of American policy. […] If there were other meetings the Russians know about, if there were other interactions with the Trump campaign the Russians are aware of, that’s something they can hold over the head of the president of the United States.”
Schiff added that the American people deserve to know the president of the United States is acting “on their behalf” and not because the Russians are blackmailing him or her to do something.
The nagging the question that has persisted throughout Trump’s candidacy and now presidency is precisely, Why does Trump, without exception, preference Vladimir Putin over every other world leader, including our Western allies and even former U.S. presidents? In essence: Why can Putin do no wrong in Trump’s eyes? Schiff’s explanation is now the only plausible one: kompromat.
So as special counsel Robert Mueller continues the criminal investigations into Russian interference and Team Trump, Congress now has a completely separate charge: Protecting the American people from the danger Trump potentially poses. Ethics watchdog and former Bush administration official Richard Painter put it this way Tuesday on MSNBC:
“Bob Mueller is there to investigate and prosecute crimes. Congress, however, has an obligation to find out what happened with respect to collusion with the Russians. […] This is about betrayal of our country. Congress needs to get to the bottom of this. We need the facts. They should not wait around for Bob Mueller. His job is the criminal investigation. Congress’ job is to make sure the people who are serving in the White House are loyal Americans and not violating any laws or acting inappropriately.”