Trump Scandal Train Is Out of Control

It’s almost not worth blogging the Trump-Russia scandal, because as soon as I have an angle to blog about a new story comes out that changes things. Watergate oozed along at a snail’s pace; this story moves at light speed.

In more or less reverse order — the most recent headline is that Trump’s personal lawyer has refused requests from both the House and Senate investigations for more information.

President Donald Trump’s longtime ally and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has refused congressional requests to provide “information and testimony” pertinent to their investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, ABC News reported Tuesday.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told ABC via email of the requests for his contacts with Kremlin-linked officials.

Josh Marshall says that the investigators’ interest in Michael Cohen is “very bad news for Donald Trump.”

In simple terms, whatever happened during the 2016 campaign, if I wanted to understand Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the countries of the former Soviet Union and money from those countries and emigres from those countries, there’s no single person I’d want to look at more closely than Michael Cohen.

Read the article for all the ways Cohen has been a significant link between Trump and Russia. He’ll get a subpoena eventually.

Earlier today, CNN reported that Russians had bragged about owning Trump:

Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.

One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
Intelligence officials caution that this might be part of a disinformation campaign.
In Jared Kushner news, yesterday the New York Times reported this —

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was looking for a direct line to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — a search that in mid-December found him in a room with a Russian banker whose financial institution was deeply intertwined with Russian intelligence, and remains under sanction by the United States.

Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition, according to current and former officials familiar with the investigations.

 Last week Matt Yglesias wrote a must-read guide to Jared Kushner’s, um, problems. There’s definitely something there. But not only is Kushner not being relieved of security clearance, we find he gets his own briefings. This may be because the so-called president isn’t able to understand intelligence briefings, even after they’ve been reduced to graphics. ” … there are signs that the president may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented, fully absorbing its nuance, or respecting the sensitivities of the information and how it was gathered,” WaPo reports.