But all the president’s men under prosecutorial scrutiny have important Russian connections that are problematic for Trump. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has only shown a fraction of the evidence he has amassed.
The New York Times has reported that Cohen’s longstanding ties to Russian interests include an ownership interest in an uncle’s catering hall frequented by Russian organized crime figures. During the 2016 campaign, Cohen sought on Trump’s behalf to develop real estate in Moscow.
Manafort received tens of millions of dollars from allies of Vladimir Putin for political consulting in Ukraine. Manafort attempted to use his job as Trump’s unpaid campaign chairman to alleviate financial pressure after his Ukrainian patrons lost power. Along with the president’s son and son-in-law, he participated in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged to receive Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton. With Trump openly urging them on, Russian intelligence subsequently dumped dirt publicly via WikiLeaks.
Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying about conversations with a Russian diplomat concerning sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama, lies then repeated publicly by Vice President Mike Pence. Mueller has not revealed what Flynn has told him about Trump’s role, if any, in those conversations as a cooperating witness seeking to lighten his punishment.
All this tightens the vise not only on Trump but on Republican candidates on the ballot in midterm elections only three months away. Democrats already hold the upper hand in the race for control of the House; their chances in capturing the Senate are much smaller, but improving.