The 3 Trump-Russia scandals, explained
It’s starting to look like President Trump has a Russia problem.
Late on Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that members of Trump’s campaign team and other “Trump associates” had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” prior to the November vote. The calls were intercepted by US officials monitoring Russian intelligence, who then leaked their existence to the Times.
The report cautions that there’s no evidence the Trump staff discussed Russian interference in the election — or that they even discussed Trump at all — and it doesn’t disclose whether any current administration officials were among the staffers who had been in contact with Russia.
But still. A campaign team having regular contact with a hostile foreign power is highly unusual, to put it mildly. Yet since the Times report doesn’t explain what they actually talked about, it ends up raising more questions than it answers.
So what do we know, exactly, about the scandals surrounding Trump and Russia? A fair amount — a disturbing amount, actually.
That’s because there isn’t just one scandal involving Trump and Russia: There are, roughly, three different allegations, which are connected but are each more or less distinct. One centers on Russia’s interference in the election, another centers on just-resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s improper contact with the Russian ambassador after the election, and a third involves potential blackmail material Russian intelligence may or may not have on the president.
The US government is currently investigating each of these scandals, but none are proven. There are varying degrees of public evidence for each of them.