Trump’s Russia dealings represented an enormous conflict of interest in 2016 : NBC News

WASHINGTON — Every time special counsel Robert Mueller speaks — through his court filings — he packs a punch. The latest example came Thursday, when he revealed that Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen was lying about the president’s business ties with Russia, and that Trump & Co. were seeking business deals with Russia well into June 2016, right before Trump officially became the GOP’s presidential nominee.

And when you consider what Trump said about Russia during the 2016 campaign, as National Review’s David French writes, those business ties represented an enormous conflict of interest, especially since Russia is/was an adversary.

Here was Trump in December 2015, when MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked him about Vladimir Putin’s killing of journalists: “He’s running his country. And at least he’s a leader — unlike what we have in this country.”

Here was Trump downplaying Russia’s hostilities with Ukraine in a March 2016 New York Times interview: “Now I’m all for Ukraine, I have friends that live in Ukraine, but it didn’t seem to me, when the Ukrainian problem arose, you know, not so long ago, and we were, and Russia was getting very confrontational, it didn’t seem to me like anyone else cared other than us. And we are the least affected by what happens with Ukraine because we’re the farthest away. But even their neighbors didn’t seem to be talking about it. And, you know, you look at Germany, you look at other countries, and they didn’t seem to be very much involved. It was all about us and Russia. And I wondered, why is it that countries that are bordering the Ukraine and near the Ukraine — why is it that they’re not more involved? Why is it that they are not more involved? Why is it always the United States that gets right in the middle of things?”

And here was Trump in an April 2016 foreign policy speech calling for stronger relations with Russia: “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.”

As French says, “Trump made those comments at the exact time when his team was allegedly trying to secure a business deal that could have netted Trump millions of dollars. This is no small thing. Trump’s words mattered.”

Source: Trump’s Russia dealings represented an enormous conflict of interest in 2016 : NBC News

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