Trump's Moscow contacts scandal coming to a head
The speculation over alleged close ties between the Kremlin and Trump's team has gained new momentum: it has emerged that Attorney General Jeff Sessions also failed to inform Congress that he had engaged in discussions with the Russian ambassador during the election campaign. Journalists see growing evidence that Moscow's arm reaches all the way to Washington and point out that the affair also has a European dimension.
Ties to Putin could prove fatal for Trump
The ties with Moscow could be Trump's downfall, US economist Jeffrey D. Sachs explains in Il Sole 24 Ore:
“A growing body of circumstantial evidence suggests that Trump has been backed by Russian money for decades. Russian oligarchs may have saved Trump from personal bankruptcy, and one reportedly travelled to a number of Trump's campaign stops, perhaps acting as a go-between with the Kremlin. ... New revelations regarding Trump and Russia will keep the pot boiling - and Trump's public support could evaporate. In that case, Republican leaders are more likely to turn on Trump. But no one should ever underestimate a demagogue's willingness to use fear and violence - even war - to maintain power. And if Putin is indeed his backer and partner, Trump's temptations will be strong.”
The Moscow-based puppet master
De Morgen looks at the implications for Europe of the affair surrounding Moscow's alleged influence over Trump's team:
“Each new revelation about ties to Vladimir Putin's regime raises the question of how much Trump and his team knew about this interference. The White House's firewall is holding up for now but the smoke is penetrating deeper and deeper. The scandal reaches all the way to Europe. The hard-right conservative Jeff Sessions is part of a paleoconservative network which also includes [the leader of Belgian party Vlaams Belang] Filip Dewinter, [the leader of the Dutch PVV party] Geert Wilders and [the leader of the Alternative for Germany party] Frauke Petry. Dewinter calls Sessions a 'friend' of his. … With his authoritarian and xenophobic power politics Russian President Vladimir Putin is the big hero of this society. He is the ring-leader who uses his comrades to undermine Western democracies from within.”