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Opinion Trump’s Russia problem

In advance of the debate tonight the Clinton campaign put out a new ad suggesting Donald Trump refuses to release his taxes because of nefarious connections to Russians:

The ABC report referenced in the ad explained:

As questions have been raised about Trump’s business interests with Russians, the candidate has sought to distance himself from Moscow.
“For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he wrote on Twitter in July.
He later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “Will I sell condos to Russians on occasion? Probably. I mean I do that. I have a lot of condos. I do that. But I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever.”
But an ABC News investigation found he has numerous connections to Russian interests both in the U.S. and abroad.
“The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars — what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,” said Sergei Millian, who heads a U.S.-Russia business group and who says he once helped market Trump’s U.S. condos in Russia and the former Soviet states. “They were happy to invest with him, and they were happy to work with Donald Trump. And they were happy to associate—[and] be associated with Donald Trump.”

Trump is also trying to deny a connection to Carter Page, a named Trump adviser who touts the Kremlin’s line. Page is under investigation to determine whether he “has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.”

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Jason Miller, the designated Trump flack for ridiculous denials (he also authored the non-denial, denial regarding The Post’s discovery of self-dealing by Trump’s foundation), insisted Page wasn’t an adviser. However, Trump’s longtime aide Hope Hicks previously said he was an “informal adviser,” and campaign chief Kellyanne Conway on Sunday did not support Miller. All she would say on CNN was that Page was not involved in debate preparation, was not around since she was in charge and any contacts between Page and Russian were not authorized. Hmm.

Trump’s admiration for Putin and pursuit of policies — weakening of NATO, lack of concern about Ukraine, deference to Russia on Syria — are bad enough, raising questions about his knowledge, judgment and affection for totalitarians. If his pro-Putin tendenies are reinforced by Kremlin stooges and by financial self-interest the concerns become much more fundamental: Whose side is he on? Does he put his personal interests above the country’s interests?

Trump falsely portrays Clinton as a globalism supporter while he favors Americanism,  insinuating Clinton does not have America’s interests at heart. As usual he is projecting onto others his own faults. Trump is pro-Russia, but more precisely, pro-Trump. He’s adopted the 1930’s isolationist, Hitler-sympathetic “America First” motto. To be accurate, it should be “Trump First.”

What kind of person would use the presidency to make money and bolster an enemy of the United States? Well, the same sort of person who would use charitable donations to buy a 6 foot painting of himself.