The reveal of Attorney General Jeff Session’s ties with Russia and the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn are the latest developments in the ongoing Russia scandal.
The scandal started during Trump’s campaign, when Paul Manafort, his campaign manager at the time, was accused of accepting a bribe of millions of dollars to represent Russia’s interests. He was investigated by the FBI, and later Manafort stepped down from his position. In October, U.S. intelligence officially accused Russia of being behind the hacking of the Democratic National Convention. When the topic came up in a presidential debate, Trump disagreed with the Intelligence community’s statement, saying that, “it could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs four hundred pounds”.
In December, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI published a report with evidence that connected Russia to the hacking. Based on this, President Obama evicted 35 Russian diplomats from the US and put in place new sanctions against Russia. Putin chose not to retaliate, and Trump once again backed Putin, tweeting: “Great move on delay [by Putin] — I always knew he was very smart!”.
This brings us to Flynn and Sessions. A report by the Washington Post found that Flynn had discussed removing the sanctions against Russia with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak before Trump was even president. New information surfaced about Flynn’s personal relationship with Putin, which resulted in Flynn stepping down from the position of national security advisor, due to the fact that it is illegal for regular US citizens to engage in diplomacy. Currently, Sessions is being accused of lying that he had not talked with the Russians at his confirmation hearing in front of congress. Recent evidence shows that he also met with Russian ambassador Kislyak, but he claims that it was part of his job as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sessions is under pressure from the democrats to resign, because he lied under oath. Trump, however, remains unshaken in his belief that the U.S. should create closer connections with Russia.