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Evidence, Coincidences, and Possiblities re: Trump, the Campaign, & Russia

There's no publicly available proof that Pres. Trump and his campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to rig the election, but there are multiple coincidences and pieces of evidence indicating that something's rotten in D.C.

Below is a summary of some of the more concerning coincidences and pieces of evidence.  Note: there really is a chance that Russian operatives acted without consulting Mr. Trump during the campaign--but that doesn't mean everything is a-okay.

Coincidences re: U.S. Policy Stances & Russian Interests

a. Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State)

One of the big-ticket coincidences involves Rex Tillerson, whom Trump appointed as our Secretary of State.  Mr. Tillerson spent most of his career at Exxon-Mobil. While CEO of Exxon, Tillerson made a deal with Russia's state-run oil company, Rosneft, to drill for oil in the Kara Sea--a deal said to be worth $500 billion.

In 2016-17, the entire state budget of California--the world's 6th largest economy--was only $170 billion. New York's budget is $149 billion. Texas's is $106 billion. The Exxon-Russia oil deal is bigger than those three states' budgets combined.  

American media reported the deal in December, yet the U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Tillerson as Secretary of State anyway.

Here's why that matters: the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014, meaning that Americans could no longer do business with Russia.  Thus, the huge Exxon-Russia oil deal went into a coma. 

Thus, there are roughly 500-billion reasons why Putin, Russia, and anyone connected to Exxon might want the Trump Administration to lift the sanctions and otherwise have more Russia-friendly policies.  Some people speculated that a Russia-friendly Secretary of State might be able to help lift the sanctions.

This week, Exxon asked the U.S. government to make an exception and allow Exxon to continue pursuing the deal with Russia's state oil company. Today, the Trump Administration denied Exxon's request--possibly because of all the suspicious Trump-Russia press.

Mr. Tillerson was appointed Secretary of State without having solid diplomatic or government experience and without personally knowing Mr. Trump. In fact, Mr. Tillerson supported Jeb Bush against Mr. Trump during the primaries.

Given those facts, people wonder how Mr. Tillerson made it onto Mr. Trump's radar when he was deciding whom to nominate for Secretary of State.

b.  Wilbur Ross

Pres. Trump appointed Wilbur Ross as our Commerce Secretary.  Mr. Ross had invested millions to rescue the Bank of Cyprus--reportedly while consulting with Putin. The Bank of Cyprus was partly Russian owned and reportedly known as a tax haven and possible money-laundering institution for Russian Oligarchs.

Before the Senate confirmed Ross as Commerce Secretary, six senators asked him questions, in writing, about his ties to Russia.  Ross simply did not answer the questions, and the Republican Senate confirmed him anyway.

For an explanation of odd evidence regarding Wilbur Ross, see this MSNBC video.

Some Evidence of Ties to Russia

a.  Foreign Intel Reports

Our government has known since at least 2016 that some people tied to Trump's campaign also had ties and odd interactions with Russian operatives.  My evidence: British press recently reported that the GCHQ (Britain's version of our NSA)--along with intel agencies from Germany, Poland, Estonia, and Australia--reported the odd interactions to our government before our election.

b.  Carter Page (Trump Campaign's Foreign Policy Adviser)

In 2016, when the press was hounding Mr. Trump about who his foreign-policy adviser was, Mr. Trump said "Carter Page."  Most people wondered from where Mr. Trump had pulled that name because (1) he didn't know Page and (2) Page didn't have real foreign-policy credentials.  He'd made trips to Russia to discuss energy issues.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: the Washington Post reported that the FBI got a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page after persuading that court that there was probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent for a foreign government. Whether Page an innocent dupe or was acting in concert with Russian operatives is still not known publicly.

 c.  Paul Manafort (Trump's Campaign Manager)

Reportedly, Mr. Trump did not have a personal relationship with Paul Manafort before asking him to become the campaign manager. From at least 2006-2009, Mr. Manafort had a $10 million per year contract with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin.  To get the contract, Mr. Manafort reportedly offered a plan that would "greatly benefit the Putin Government."

After that, Mr. Manafort did political consulting work for Viktor Yanukovych, the now-ousted, pro-Putin Ukrainian dictator. In March 2017, news reports revealed evidence (not proof) that Mr. Manafort had received illegal payments.

According to Fox/AP, just last month--long after his work for the pro-Putin dictator--Mr. Manafort decided it was time to finally register with the U.S. government as an agent for a foreign government (which lobbyists and consultants are required to do).  Onlookers wonder why Manafort didn't do it much sooner--given that most political consultants worth their salt know they're required to do so if the represent foreign nations.

He was the second Trump adviser to have to retroactively register as an agent of a foreign government.

d.  Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn, Trump's ex-National Security Adviser, was the first Trump adviser to have to retroactively register as an agent of a foreign government. Mr. Flynn had received $750,000 to do work for the government of Turkey, yet--despite his experience in government--he somehow didn't know that he should have registered as an agent of a foreign government months earlier.

Mr. Flynn also had Russia-related ties.  He'd received $45,000 from Russian entities (speaking fees, reportedly) but failed to disclose them to the U.S. Government when required to.

Yet another issue: Mr. Flynn had meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak during the campaign and the transition. Flynn denied discussing the sanctions against Russia during his meetings with Kislyak (discussing sanctions would have been a legal no-no before Trump was actually president because only presidents can conduct foreign policy).

Flynn resigned after admitting that he might have discussed sanctions with the Russian Ambassador.  We don't actually know when Pres. Trump, Vice Pres. Pence, or any other administration official had first known about Flynn's discussions with the Russian official.

 d.  Erik Prince

Erik Prince--founder of the infamous, now-renamed denfense contractor Blackwater--was not an official campaign adviser for Trump.  Apparently, Prince was a big contributor and unofficial adviser to Trump.

Reportedly, Mr. Prince secretly met with a Russian official in the Seychelles Islands to establish a communications "back channel" between Trump and Putin.

e. Jared Kushner (Trump's Son-in-law)

In December 2016--before Trump took office--Jared Kushner had meetings with a Russian ambassador and a banker from a Russian bank. The meetings may or may not have involved illegal activity.

Here's the problem: on his application form for security clearance, Mr. Kushner failed to disclose the meeting--which disclosure was required.  The form (SF-86) states that "knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact" is a felony and that federal agencies generally fire or do not grant security clearance to people who falsify or conceal information.

At least one congressman has called for Mr. Kushner's security clearance to be revoked.

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