Volume II – Obstruction
Pt. 1 “The Campaign’s Response to Reports About Russian Support for Trump”
(Pages 15 – 23)
“Trump responded to questions about possible connections to Russia by denying any business involvement in Russia-even though the Trump Organization had pursued a business project in Russia as late as June 2016. Trump also expressed skepticism that Russia had hacked the emails at the same time as he and other Campaign advisors privately sought information about any further planned WikiLeaks releases.
In the days that followed WikiLeaks’s July 22, 2016 release of hacked DNC emails, the Trump Campaign publicly rejected suggestions that Russia was seeking to aid candidate Trump. On July 26, 2016, Trump tweeted that it was “[c]razy” to suggest that Russia was “dealing with Trump” and that “[f]or the record,” he had “ZERO investments in Russia.”
Trump Campaign’s Active Effort to cut off Russian ties:
“In addition to denying any connections with Russia, the Trump Campaign reacted to reports of Russian election interference in aid of the Campaign by seeking to distance itself from Russian contacts. For example, in August 2016, foreign policy advisor J.D . Gordon declined an invitation to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s residence because the timing was “not optimal” in view of media reports about Russian interference. On August 19, 2016 , Manafort was asked to resign amid media coverage scrutinizing his ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and links to Russian business. And when the media published stories about Page’s connections to Russia in September 2016, Trump Campaign officials terminated Page’s association with the Campaign and told the press that he had played “no role” in the Campaign.”
Why go to those lengths? These actions make it seem like Trump wants to hide something illegal involving Russia. Alternatively, Trump could have been defensive about this potential connection to Russia because of his public image, regardless of his Russian ties or lack thereof. So the motif is not clear even though denying ties to Russia makes it appear that something illegal is being concealed from public and the intelligence community.