Questions about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia are hardly going to disappear with the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Investigations are underway, and more are likely by the new administration and on Capitol Hill. U.S. agencies, including the FBI, have been probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And three congressional committees are conducting their own investigations that include looking at contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign and administration.
This is not the first time Trump has distanced himself from an adviser in light of a relationships with Moscow. In late August, Paul Manafort resigned as Trump’s campaign chairman after disclosures by The Associated Press about his firm’s covert lobbying on behalf of the former pro-Russian ruling political party in Ukraine. The New York Times reported late Tuesday that members of Trump’s campaign, including Manafort, had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the year before the election. The U.S. knew about these contacts through phone records and intercepted calls, the Times said.
Trump’s own ties to Russia have been questioned in light of his friendly posture toward the long-time U.S. adversary and reluctance to criticize President Vladimir Putin, even for Putin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. “This isn’t simply about a change in policy toward Russia, as the administration would like to portray. It’s what’s behind that change in policy,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, one of the congressional bodies investigating.