New York Times columnist David Leonhardt discusses the burning question, the Trump campaign’s sinister “friendliness” with Russia in 2016, and offers a theory:
Top Trump officials understood that they were doing something wrong. Perhaps they were trying to help their campaign with tactics they understood were wrong. Or perhaps they were working to advance the interests of a foreign power, because of financial entanglements between those officials — maybe including Trump — and Russia. These officials, and others who were aware of the entanglements, then lied about the contacts. In that case, [Brookings legal expert Susan] Hennessey explains, “the decision making at the top of the executive branch is not in any meaningful way being guided by the best interests of the American people.”
Anyone reading this has to ask, Is supporting Israel right or wrong in the best interests of the American people? No. Supporting the Saudi bombing of Yemen, with such horrific consequences to civilians? No. Invading Iraq and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, to which the Times gave full-throated backing
? Of course not. Plus various domestic issues where clearly it is the interests of rich donors that matter, not the people.
What counts as scandal to the New York Times? In one element of collusion with the Russians that is
documented: Trump security aide Michael Flynn talked to Russian diplomats
to urge them to support Israel against President Obama at the U.N. Security Council in December 2016. (They did not comply.) In that case, Trump officials were patently “working to advance the interests of a foreign power,” Israel.
There is of course no mention of that Russian angle by Leonhardt, even as it is hard to discern any case where the Trump administration has deferred to Russian interests in the Middle East today. Israel is pretty much out of the picture again, after a very brief limited appearance with the story about Flynn.