March 20th was a big day. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey revealed two bombshells during a special hearing before the House Intelligence Committee. First, he confirmed that there is no evidence to corroborate Trump’s claims that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump during the election. Second, Comey announced that the FBI is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. The investigation continues on despite Trump’s insistence that the Russia story is “fake news”. The revelation is certainly unusual given the FBI discloses its investigations only in rare circumstances when it is in the public interest.
What does the FBI Investigate?
The FBI is tasked with many things, including but not limited to terrorism, public corruption, cyber crimes, and counterintelligence. Since 1917, the FBI is responsible for “identifying and neutralizing ongoing national security threats from foreign intelligence services.” They are designed to identify security breaches, spies and compromised officials. In general, counterintelligence investigations are among the FBI’s most difficult and time-consuming cases. They rarely lead to criminal charges.
What has the FBI Found?
In short, we don’t know. Comey made sure not to reveal anything because of the ongoing investigation. According to Comey, he doesn’t want to undermine an ongoing investigation. He did, however, confirm that an investigation of Trump’s possible ties to Russia is underway, and whether Trump helped undermine the Presidential election. According to Comey, the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Trump associates and Russia since late July 2016.
Trump’s Possible Russian Ties
To date, there are five identified people affiliated with the Trump administration that has ties to Russia. The people that got the most media attention for Russian ties are attorney general Jeff Sessions and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn went so far as to have had an undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador back in December. As a result, Flynn resigned from his post.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and current senior adviser, also had a meeting at Trump Tower with Flynn and the Russian ambassador during campaign season. The extent and frequency of any of Trump’s inner circle to Russia remains unclear.
It’s certainly alarming that so many people close to the President have ties to Russia. Remembering what Trump has repeatedly said throughout his campaign, we know that he admires Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump’s actions show us that he respects Putin more than his predecessor President Obama. Why?
Some believe Russia is blackmailing President Trump. They theorize that Trump borrowed money from Russia to keep his personal businesses afloat in the early 90s after a string of bankruptcies, which could explain why Trump refused to release his tax returns. They further believe Russia has some sort of incriminating information about Trump.
What Would Happen if Trump has Ties to Russia?
If Trump is in fact working with the Russian government to compromise our own, two things will happen. First, he will be impeached. Second, he will be tried criminally for treason.
Impeachment is an accusation of wrongdoing committed by the sitting President. The House of Representatives can vote to impeach, or kick a President out of office, and the Senate tries the case. A simple majority of the House of Representatives (at least 218 votes) is required to impeach, followed by two-thirds majority vote in the Senate (at least 67 votes).
Under Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them aid and comfort has committed treason. From the looks of things, there seems to be plenty of circumstantial evidence suggesting Trump and Russia are in cahoots. News outlets are now reporting there’s more than just circumstantial evidence proving a Trump and Russian connection.