‘An Extraordinary Moment’: Explaining the Russia Inquiry

Mark Mazzetti, our Washington investigations editor, answers readers’ questions about the Russia inquiry.

Comments: 223

  1. Trump is not helping himself when he uses his Twitter account to attack others or praise them. The GOP is not acting like a party of the people but a party of the economic elite despite their claims to the contrary. I remember Watergate. I remember the uproar and upheavals that accompanies it. I had hoped that we'd never ever see something like it again but we are.

    This is the fault of the GOP and Trump. The Democrats did not hold a gun to Trump's campaign personnel or the GOP and tell them to put forward a completely unqualified candidate, to have him fire Comey on what appears to have been a whim, not a reason, to create the least diverse cabinet in decades, and to protect a man who regards personal loyalty as more important than loyalty to the country they are sworn to serve. And we did not ask for a caricature as president.

    We didn't ask for a man who is incapable of telling the truth. The popular vote went to Clinton, not Trump. Trump demonstrated well before 2016 his fundamental lack of integrity. If Trump is truly threatened with impeachment my fear is that America will never be united again because it will be the second time a GOP president has been found to have committed acts worthy of having articles of impeachment drawn up. No matter who we support we will never be able to trust them again. It might have started with Nixon but it didn't end with him.

  2. My worry is becoming this: Mueller will get the goods on Trump, efforts will be made to remove Trump, he will launch a major military distraction, and those of his supporters with guns will take up arms to defend him.

    This leads me to conclude that might be better to lay off and even ignore Trump - until he is voted out of office in 3 years, scary as those years might be. Trump may even turn out to be more valuable to the Democrats as President than Pence as President until 2920 - and if Pence replaces him, Pence might well get elected himself in 2020.

  3. "Does the administration have a plan to prevent outside interference in our elections, whether it’s from Russia or China or another country? So far, I have read many news reports about the investigation, but very little about preventing a recurrence. Dorothy Signal"

    Great question, Dorothy and the answer is a a definite "no". As long as the GOP controlled Congress and committees think Russia is on their side, the focus of Congress and the Administration will remain on deflecting the widespread evidence of collusion between the Kremlin and the GOP.

    Facebook, Google and Twitter haven't exactly inspired confidence that their sites can't be manipulated again, as Russian bots continue to push out the GOP story on Intelligence Committee memos.

    In France and Germany, the government took an active role in heading off similar Russian interference in their elections. In the US, the GOP controlled government is putting out the story that there was no interference and a minority of voters are inclined to go along with this fable.

    But its likely that the 2018 mid term elections will have two important national themes, #MeToo and Russia.

    The Russia question is very simple: why all of the lying? Don't expect an answer from Fox News.

    And Democrats will have a powerful incentive to take over the House to get rid of Trump and block the rapacious actions of the Administration through better oversight, especially HHS, Interior and EPA.

  4. Future elections must be safeguarded against hackers, foreign or domestic. It’s important to discover what probing by hackers happened in 2016, but also to test every electronic system in use for vulnerabilities. Is this being done?

  5. Perhaps the problem is less the quality of our electronic systems than the quality of our leaders.

  6. or the quality of our voters. Time to re-thing universal suffrage?

  7. "It’s generally assumed that Mr. Mueller would make recommendations to Mr. Rosenstein, who would then pass them along to Congress."

    A very balanced -- perhaps the most balanced I've read in the NYT in quite a while -- analysis of where we stand with Trump, Inc. and the hostile takeover of democracy in the United States.

    But it is very serious business indeed, calling for the ouster of a President of the United States. It is too easy to fall down the slippery slope and have every opposition party to a president, if holding the majority of the House, try to impeach every president they don't like, thus negating our electoral system entirely.

    Hence, it is right for Congress to consider very, very carefully whatever Mueller finds. Unfortunately, right now our Representatives and Senators do not possess the moral fiber necessary to do what is correct, if it needs to be done. I'm afraid we're stuck with Mr Trump for another 3-1/2 years.

  8. Check your math... Trump has been president for over a year in a 4 year term...

  9. These articles about collusion and obstruction certainly appeal to those who must cling to the notion that Trump will be gone in just a matter of time. But, the reality is he will not be gone until he is not re-elected. In he year plus that the FBI or other agencies have been investigating Trump and those in his retinue nothing has been found other than Flynn's dirty business, Montefort's in the distant past laundering( if that) and the small lies of Mr Papadapoulos. If there was any substance in the collusion and obstruction charges against Trump himself, it would have been unearthed and promptly either leaked or announced. We need to get back to business and deal with Iran, Russia, China, North Korea and the middle east and that is speaking as to foreign affairs and defense. Domestically, we have immigration, health care, education, infra structure, and the national economy. These are the topics that should be occupying us and our government. We are just hurting ourselves by not doing so and instead spending resources on an investigation that will turn up nothing.

  10. Or... Mueller is playing his cards close to the vest. Let’s say he charges Page with treason, then Trump can pardon him so he won’t testify against Trump. However, if Mueller leaves the worst charges to the state DAs, then Trump cannot pardon his buddies.

    Since Mueller has only used the (apparently) least charges to get pleas, that leaves plenty of room for state DAs to nail the accused if other options fail.

  11. Phobos: If the con Don pardons Page, Page can be compelled to testify because a pardon takes away his fifth amendment right to self incrimination. To accept a pardon you affirm that you’re guilty. The pardon just protects you from jail time, not from testifying. You can still be subpoenaed.

  12. I get that. But once you have accepted one pardon, what’s a few more between friends? As far as I know, claiming “I don’t recall” is legal... just look at Jeff Sessions!

  13. Very thorough and detailed article answering the many questions involving this complex investigation. Breaking down the issues succinctly is helpful since there is so much to keep up with the many twists and turns. Many of us were too young with Nixon so this is highly unusual for us. Well done and I look forward to more articles such as this.

  14. "Many of us were too young with Nixon so this is highly unusual for us."

    As a teenager at the time I can wholeheartedly assure you that it was highly unusual for us too — and the current crisis of an even less fit president seems that much harder to tolerate.

  15. The thing about Nixon was that he was crazy and paranoid but he always believed he was acting in the best interest of the country. He was trying to do the right thing in his mind.

    Donald Trump and ilk don't even bother to pretend they are acting in anyone's interest but their own. This is all a mad grab for power and money, and they don't hide it. They just say tough.

    And that is a huge difference.

  16. Thank you for this very helpful article. I believe the Russian interference in the last election was "an extraordinary moment" that deserves an extraordinary quality and degree of attention from all of us especially the very entities that have by all accounts done almost nothing, namely, the White House and Congress. For instance, there should already be a plan in place for a national voting system which can be audited and cannot be hacked.

  17. Votes are already audited and there has been little to no fraud found. Keeping polls open so everyone has the opportunity to vote and making it easy for citizens to vote has nothing to do with voter fraud.

  18. Thanks for your reply, Greg. My aim here was more along the lines of methods for insuring reliable counts/recounts, verifying that the machines are working correctly, letting folks be able to verify that their vote was counted, etc.

    Greg wrote:
    "The Democrats won't allow a voter audit since their stance says any questions about voter eligibility penalizes minority voters."

  19. In response to the question 'what's the big deal?' if the CIA does it: It's a big deal to those countries that it happens to AND it's a big deal to us. The amount of apathy that appears to be expressed on this subject by some citizens is shocking in its naivete.

  20. No, Chris W., it is not apathy and naïveté that most people feel towards this whole Russian imbroglio.

    Rather, it's cynicism and disgust at how far this country has fallen. All at the hands of an out of touch, smug, self-entitled elites that are more concerned about getting theirs in the new global order than putting the interest of America and the American people first.

    Trump, in many peoples' delusional hopes, was suppose to be an antidote to what ails this country. Instead, Trump is just like the rest of our debased "leaders", only worse since he may turn out to be the last drop of the bitter poison that has been coursing through and killing this country for decades.

    Sic Transit Gloria Americana.

  21. In the case of the 'memo', the source of the outrage is not that Carter Page was 'surveilled' but that the surveillance was initiated by deviating from the already lax rules that would have triggered it and that the motive was tilting the election to favor Bill Clinton's wife. To that extent, the initial comparisons and references to 'Watergate' are proper.

    Here's a question that might point to the answer. Do Russian still enjoy the benefit of the doubt -- in the interest of lack of evidence?

  22. "Do Russian still enjoy the benefit of the doubt -- in the interest of lack of evidence?"

    It's never too early to start planning your defense strategy, tovarich.

  23. The Dossier wasn't the only evidence used to do surveillance on Carter Page. Furthermore the surveillance of Carter Page had nothing to do with the start of the Russian investigation.

  24. What is with the "Bill Clinton's wife" usage? It must be pejorative but I can't even twist it around enough to figure out how.

  25. Although I would favor use of Federal expertise in election security (assuming there is any real expertise sufficiently untainted), I would definitely want to guard against their participation in the actual elections (registration, counts, etc.). Just as the posse comitatus act was enacted to prevent a federally inspired and operated coup, whether by or using our own military, so would a federal role in elections lead to hijacking worse than that of Florida and SCOTUS. The next real battlefield in political corruption is going to be over the census where the entire nation will be subjected to the corrupt gerrymandering already in practice at the state level. Banana republic here we come!

  26. RE: "The current Justice Department guidance is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and most legal experts believe that Mr. Mueller will follow that guidance." Kind of a non-answer, legally. This is an almost completely untested area of constitutional law. A DOJ "guidance" as a predictor is not saying all that much, particularly given a DOJ led by an AG as suspect in regard to objectivity as this one. Who are these "most legal experts?" What is their reasoning? Of course, conservatives would be of this opinion. Doesn't make it settled law.

  27. Treason has been and still is occurring. It was done for money. The treason investigation has been and still is being obstructed.

  28. That is nonsense. The heads of FSB intelligence and Kaspersky Labs security were thrown in prison after Flynn met with Kislyak over sanctions and U.S. counter intelligence reports after Trump/Flynn's first full briefings. Flynn and Papadopoulis would be the two eyewitnesses to betraying our intelligence assets and intent to trade information that would satisfy the requirements for treason witnesses according to our Constitution. And, nothing, like that type of self-evident speculation does a single thing to undermine the actual investigation. Republican obstruction is the only nonsense that is doing so. And Nunes's type of obvious interference and front running is clearly attempts to obstruct and interfere.

  29. I don't know if it will go this way, jwp - but I pray that it does, would most comfort my soul. Treason is clearly what Trump is about at his core, or lack of core, character, soul, whatever you want to term it.

  30. The constitution defines Treason in narrow terms. However, a charge of Conspiracy was enough to convict and execute the Rosenbergs for their acts against the interests of the United States in favor of Russia.

  31. What I cannot understand is why we let this two bit country interfere with our election when we could destroy Putin with a well placed embargo. We could at least threaten that.

  32. Why would Trump embargo his most generous financiers and business partners?

  33. I think that interfering with out election was an act of war.

  34. The repulsive repubs would not vote for that, since putin is trump's best bud. We also already know that the repub's in congress do not put country first in doing their job.

  35. Working with a foreign adversary to cyber attack US citizens or to help them spread stolen illegal gotten gains, is illegal. It's called Conspiracy against the USA.

  36. Could you please explain that to, say, the President of the United States of America? Because he doesn't seem to get it.

  37. It is very disconcerting that the repulsives really don't seem to care that there is a huge potential that Russia could disrupt the 2018 elections. Our hope is that the Dems will gain seats and in 2020 potentially regain control of the government. With the absence of repulsive concern and "will" to do something, I fear that 2016 could all happen again.

  38. You think this is all an accident? Let me put on my conspiracy-theorist hat...

    Let’s say Democrats do win in November, the Republicans can say that Russia interfered and the vote is invalid. Since the GOP controls most everything in this country, who will gain-say them? Do you think it’s an accident that Democrats get more votes nationwide but control almost nothing?

    My grandfather was a solid Democrat but always told me to follow the money. The Koch brothers have pledged $400M for November, a small part of the BILLIONS they will save in taxes.

    We no longer live in a democracy.

  39. Do you remember the Koch Industries Super Bowl halftime ad recently? “Koch Power”. They aren’t even being subtle anymore.

  40. What is the NYT doing to help inoculate U.S. citizens/voters against any ongoing interference by outside interests (or by domestic interests, for that matter?) I doubt we can eliminate 'bots' and 'trolls'. So doesn't it make sense to teach people how to recognize and deal with them? And if the government isn't taking the lead in such an effort, shouldn't the media step up to do so?

  41. Russian "meddling" certainly occurred, and there is a mountain of evidence to that effect. That Russian crowd that met at the Oval Office with the President might as well have brought in some Bolshoi Ballet dancers, while barring the press. It's also interesting that for Trump and his campaign, they may not be subject to prosecution since collusion that is specific to changing election outcomes is not easy to prove.

    There are three key issues that are inadequately reported here and everywhere else:

    1. Voter suppression was rampant in the last election, including in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. It took many forms, including longer lines in Democratic precincts, Crosscheck (which took many likely Democratic voters off the rolls), tinkering with paperless voting machines owned by Republicans (key districts' votes often did not match exit polls), and more. We don't win this by pointing fingers at the Russians, but by insisting on cleaning up our own practices, making us worthy of being called a democracy.
    2. The Russians are the soul brothers of the Koch Brothers and Exxon Mobil. All have gangster like cultures focused on extracting fossil fuels and selling them. As a result, we are rapidly losing a chance to salvage a livable climate. The Times focuses on this far too little.
    3. The White House is openly criminal and incompetent. We need a Liebling, Thompson, or Mencken. Or a Matt Taibbi, who is still with us.

  42. We meddle in the entire world's affairs, their elections, we instigate civil wars, and wage real wars. Whining about Russians meddling sounds utterly ridiculous coming from a country that meddles in Russia day and night.

  43. I agree 100% with this commenter, particularly regarding replacing the voting system throughout the U.S. with paper ballots and dealing aggressively with voter suppression which should be examined by a bi-partisan committee in each state.

  44. It's no secret that Donald Trump doesn't read, but there's one possible explanation that I've never seen or heard raised by any news source: Is it possible that Trump is dyslexic? Many people with dyslexia will go to extremes to hide their disability, so Trump's reluctance to read any extensive reports could very well be a ruse to hide the issue. Has anyone else ever suggested the possibility?

  45. Or both.

  46. Sometimes it seems as if English is Trump's second language.

  47. See comedian Samantha Bee Full Frontal story.

  48. This investigation is taking so long, it won't matter.

    The damage Trump is doing to our country will last for decades. And it will be irreversible.

  49. The Watergate investigation took approximately 26 months. The Mueller investigation is only 10 months old. The investigation does and will matter - please be patient. In the meantime, do everything you can to help defeat the GOP in 2018 who are enabling the monster in the White House to destroy this country.

  50. Reading the comments here it is clear the liberals are believing their own myth. Clinton lost because she ran a poor campaign and her cyber security was also poor. No ballots were changed. If there was voter fraud it probably helped Clinton not President Trump. The plus side to this is the liberals will continue to believe their myth and will also continue to lose.

  51. Your myth doesn't work. Hillary lost because of the electoral college that gives extra weight to a few less populated states. She had over 3 million more votes than the idiot now squatting in our White House. ...And, the way state elections are going, we are probably going to see a blue blanket across most of the country.

  52. Kind of a limited survey, but consider how people's opinions change, not at once, but over time. And consider the power of repetition in advertising and politics - “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161026-how-liars-create-the-illusion-o.... He had several big lies to maintain. At what point does a meme become a true story or "known fact"? And the point of all of the fake news was to create uncertainty, make people question their own knowledge of the truth. Remember when The Pope seemingly endorsed Mr. T? There are no doubt some people who still remember that as true. PizzaGate? Stupid, but it still pops up when people disparage Hillary. Point is, it would not be just one Russian story, or a couple of tweets here and there - it would be hundreds of stories that, while possible to prove untrue, are not totally discounted in peoples emotional memory when they have to make what, for many, is a gut call - how they feel seems more reliable than what the facts say.

  53. Election Fraud, get it? No audits, corporate owned software, little paper trail, disenfranchisement, ... Notice when you see voting in other countries on the news it is with out exception a paper ballot.

  54. There are several questions which should have been covered:
    1) No mention of federal conspiracy charges. All it takes are two or more people conspiring to violate a statute with one or more overt acts.
    One person can be an unindicted co-conspirator.
    2) Federal tax returns are easily obtained through a federal grand jury. (Otherwise IRS is loathe to supply them) Trump could be charged after he leaves office, so long as the statue of limitations has not expired, if in fact probable cause exists.
    3) Any person acting in a capacity as an intermediary for a foreign government legal or illegal needs to register as an agent for a foreign government. To me, this is Mueller leverage with all of the Trump associates wheeling and dealing to impact the 2016 election.

  55. The Russians clearly "meddled" -- but their real objective was not to swing the election to one candidate over another. It was to create distrust in our civic institutions and further polarize the country. By that measure, they were quite successful.

  56. Exactly, Mr. Sperling, which makes Mazzetti's observation that no evidence of vote changing seem quite lame. Russia's goal is destabilization of western democratic governments so that its system of oligarchical/military direction becomes more appealing. The Russian hackers didn't need to change even a single vote; all they wanted to do was penetrate our ballot systems to leave the clear impression that they could, if they wanted, change votes.

    And the real kicker is that this Administration is doing absolutely nothing about it.

  57. David: I disagree slightly. The Russian goal was both: get Trump elected and undermine our institutions.

    1. The Russians despised Obama and Hillary (due to sanctions against Russia, etc.). Plus, what better way to weaken our country than to try to influence the election in the direction of the inexperienced, incompetent, divisive, insulting Trump, who likely has financial and other ties to Russia that can be exploited. Mission Accomplished, I would say.

    2. The Republicans and right-wing media have done a longer, much more concerted, and better job at creating distrust in our government and institutions than the Russians ever could. Count the ways.

  58. Wrong. It was clearly to help Trump, over whom they have considerable control because of financial dealing with him for many years. And many other points of influence. This is an important point.

  59. Follow the Money. " Trump Properties" is merely the front, the public face of HIS real business. That would be Trump International Money Laundry.
    I said it from the beginning. Who else would buy his brand of " luxury", except despots, tax evaders, scammers and other morally challenged individuals? They WANT gaudy and tacky. Seriously.

  60. I have enjoyed the drama that The Times provides in its stories about the current Administration. I have come to the conclusion that all I can do is listen and watch. All I hope for is that cooler heads prevail.

  61. This isn't "All My Children" but the future of our country at stake.

  62. You can also keep contacting your Senators and Representative in Congress to express your concerns and suggestions and ask questions. And you can vote. And, of course, keep commenting on social media. There is much we as citizens can -- and must -- do.

  63. Keep commenting on social media? Isn’t that how this mess started?
    Social media=the end of social society.

  64. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Trump has attacked the free press, independent judges, the independent FBI and intelligence community, all sorts of minorities and almost anyone with a public profile who disagrees with him about anything. He attacked the NATO alliance. He says terrible things about all sorts of US citizens, but only has kind words for the Russian dictator. And then he lied over and over again about the Russian connections, starting out with the lie that their were no connections and that it was fake news. Trump supporters know in their hearts, just as the Democrats know with their brains, that the election was stolen by the Russians. And no amount of lying and whitewash will put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

  65. And yet he gets more attention by defending himself and his aids who regularly assault women, and when he ignores the victims of his and his predatory staff's sexual aggressions, than he does with all his lies and sinister plots against the righteous among us. He may not like that attention, but it could eventually do him in despite his feeble claims of innocence.

  66. his supporters have no hearts

  67. Last Spring appeared an article on the Internet, From Russia with Oil, by Yonatan Zungman, that described the Trump/Putin deal. It had four parts. 1. Russia would hack the election so Trump would win. 2 & 3. If Trump won he would try to lift U.S. sanctions against Russia and turn his head if Russia invaded Ukraine. 4. For Trump's efforts Russia would pay him 19% of the profits from Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company. In one quarter in 2014 these profits were $251 million. That's more than a billion $ a year Russia would pay directly to Trump, which he undoubtedly would deposit in an offshore account. Ever since, everything Trump does seems to fall in place and fit this scenario perfectly. If you don’t believe this may be true, read the article and decide for yourself whether you believe Trump is selling out America to Russia for huge amounts of money —a treasonous act to the highest degree.

  68. Wait - this was in an article on the internet!? Must be true.

  69. Nonsense. Congress passed their own Russia sanctions law (98 for and 2 against in the Senate) precisely because Mr. Trump said he was thinking of removing the sanctions. Aren't you tired yet of constantly fiddling with the truth, William? Thanks, in any case, for participating.

    William Case wrote:
    2. Trump hasn't tried to lift sanctions.

  70. If I can’t see with my own eyes supposedly what is right in front of me in plain sight, the last thing I want is some stranger explaining it for me. Perhaps try to convince that person with the white cane on the corner over there that they can trust you.

  71. Explanations typically mean little to the willfully blind.

  72. If Special Prosecutor Mueller is able to wrap up the Investigation before November, would a Republican-controlled House sit by and do nothing should President Trump be found to be involved with Russian monetary or some other kind of kick-back or blackmail because of nefarious dealings or money owed by the Trump Organization, the President or a member of his family; money laundering -- with or without the Russians -- involving the Trump Organization or properties; obstruction of justice; or some other "high crime or misdemeanor"? And would the President pardon anyone and everyone who might be indicted and convicted of such crimes? Would the President pardon himself and if he could not, after being removed from office would the Vice President pardon him, as Ford did for Nixon?

    And, if Donald Trump should resign from the Presidency, would he then be indicted? If so, if he were convicted would the Vice President then pardon him? How will justice ever be served with all these Presidential loopholes?

    It is my hope that if we -- that is, the country -- get out of this mess relatively unscathed and the U.S. is still a democracy with the Constitution intact, I believe Congress -- it is hoped that a Democratic Congress -- will pass some new legislation restricting future Presidents' abilities regarding the nuclear codes, pardons, conflicts of interests and nepotism, as well as require candidates to undergo federal background checks -- economic, criminal and mental/physical health!

  73. He could be tried in New York for state crimes. Any state crimes are not pardonable by the president.

  74. And are all the allegations you lay out against Trump and his cronies any worse than what has been going in the same manner, perhaps more subtly and with the veneer of respectability, during the administrations of Obama, Bush, Clinton and so on going all the way back to John Adams and the XYZ Affair?

    America's business is business and that means money and influence have permeated our politics since the beginning of the Republic. DJT is merely the crassest, most venal and most shameless practitioner of "the art of the deal" to occupy the White House, excepting perhaps Harding.

  75. Let me call your attention to what they did with the Supreme Court. There really seems to be very little this Congress won't sink to. Right now they are colluding with 45 to hurt the people who voted them into office by making cuts to social programs so they can funnel yet more money to the wealthy.

  76. It has felt to me that the behavior of the Republicans is like an occupying force, that they are like an invading nation, and instead of using military force, they have used political force to insinuate themselves into American society. Whether it's gerrymandering to the extreme, being the party of "No" for 8 years, whipping up their base into a froth using lies and gross misrepresentations of fact, acting to strip government support for the masses of people in favor of enriching the very wealthiest few, empowering corporations over the people at every turn, voting for draconian sentencing laws that clearly target minorities, and seeking to limit the voting rights of people not likely to support them, etc.

    So it is with little fanfare and surprise that we see the Republicans hardly concerned that the Russians sought to impact our electoral system, indeed, the Mueller investigation is looking into the possibility the Republicans, Trump in particular, colluded with them to infiltrate our democratic process. Republicans do appear to be an enemy occupying force, and they would overlook the collusion of one or more of their own at the expense and welfare of our nation. That is treason, right?

  77. Yes, I agree fully with your assessment.

  78. This letter sums up the situation. We, the majority, are being bullied and ripped off by this minority that has been conspiring for years to subvert - destroy might be more accurate- our democracy.

  79. The best thing I've read today is the answer to the question, "Will Mr. Mueller be able to access Mr. Trump’s taxes?" The answer was, "Yes, I would assume that Mr. Mueller has access to any financial documents he wants, including the president’s tax returns."

    Just thinking that Trump is squirming at the realization that Mr Mueller's team is poring over those mysterious tax documents gives me hope. And IF Mueller finds malfeasance and IF Trump resigns or is removed, he is no longer shielded by the "sitting president" proviso.

  80. Okay, but if Mueller does find Trump's taxes crooked [let's use one of his favorite words], then isn't it up to the IRS to bring charges? Or has munchkin put a ban on that?

  81. Dream on buddy. Trump's taxes are and have been audited every year by the I.R.S. He's very good at the tax avoidance game but that's a legal game. The trick in real estate investing is to minimize reportable taxable income and maximize actual cash flow. It's all very legal.

  82. The IRS pours over all of Trump's tax returns. He is audited ever year. The IRS settles most tax return issues out of court.

  83. The only impact Russia had on the 2016 election was to give Hillary Clinton her most successful talking points. Americas knew Putin supported Trump because Hillary kept telling them so in her campaign speeches and in the presidential debate. The intelligence community assessment stated that Putin initially praised Trump and disparaged Clinton, but it noted that in June 2016 Putin stopped praising Trump because Moscow realized that “any praise from Putin personally would backfire in the United States." Indeed Hillary Clinton used the Putin’s support from Trump as a major talking point in her campaign, asking voters if it were wise to vote for a candidate approved by Putin. The post-election assertion that Putin’s endorsement was an advantage rather than a liability for Trump is absurd. People forget that reporters and debate moderators frequently challenged Trump to defend his relationship with the Russian leader. There's no doubt Russian support cost Trump votes.

  84. My comment address the effectiveness of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It wasn't effective.

    What "U.S. agents of foreign espionage services" are you talking about? Name them.

  85. Obviously anyone in the U.S. who worked on behalf of Russian intelligence during the campaign ought to be punished for it. I'm not privy to Mueller's evidence, but I would not be surprised if Trump staffers were charged with illegally cooperating with Russia, or if Flynn were charged with failing to register as a foreign agent in connection with his various schemes.

    But you're still missing the point. You keep focusing on the ineffectiveness of Russian meddling. Why? Aren't the Russian attacks on the U.S., regardless of their success (and regardless of the election result), enough? Would you let an attempted murderer walk free because he hasn't killed anyone?

  86. It wasn’t Putin’s endorsement or lack thereof that crossed a line, it was his active campaigning using stolen data to target key voter segments for enhanced propaganda using the most advanced mind shaping tools devised, impersonating real people with thousands of usernames masking trolls paid by his government to express sentiments created to divide us into manageable blocks of us or them voters, in specific places chosen to maximize the impact on the electoral college. That group may number less than a hundred thousand people, some who voted, some who stayed home, some who decided to vote Bernie, but all may have been subject to a meme invasion from Russia, with much love. The intelligence folks spoke about it as a continuing program, but that without leadership from the top there was little they could do. The guy who could do something wants to shutdown the investigation, all the while claiming there is nothing there.

  87. If President Trump were not hiding dark secrets, wouldn't he be leading a fight to prevent Russia from continuing to meddle in our elections? His silence on this matter is a give-away that he is well aware that lines were crossed separating the permissible from the illegal in the months that led up to his surprising elevation from bankrupter of casinos to The White House.

  88. Donald Trump is actively trying to divide our nation for various reasons, and perhaps assist the Russians in doing so. Whether this is as a "witting" or "unwitting" ally of Putin is one thing Mueller is trying to ascertain and quantify.

    There is no doubt that he has been at least providing unwitting assistance to Russia. Anyone who can read reliable sources like the NYTimes knows this.

    But witting or unwitting, he is operating as an agent for Russia. This is enough to have him removed from office because, apparently, he doesn't recognize or respect that this is true or important. And neither do his followers and enablers in Congress.

    They too are, at a minimum, unwitting agents of Putin. It's very weird and I suspect (as do many) that blackmail and kompromat is the lever the Russians are using.

  89. An extraordinary moment indeed, as we will find if our democracy holds against the onslaught of foreign enemy interference in our election, campaigns financed through hidden sources like the N.R.A. and greed of oligarchs worldwide attempting to gain more riches while killing the future for our grandchildren to have clean air, water and a country with nature preserves and national parks. May our law enforcement, courts and Congress hold all those accountable and not above the law, who have acted or cooperated with actions to undermine our Constitution and laws, even if it be the president of these United States of America. "Long may our land be bright, with freedoms holy light. Protect us by thy might, Great God our King."

  90. Anonymous sources can be quite important!
    Don't forget the greatest anonymous source of all time - Mark Felt.
    He played an important part in reveling Richard Nixon's obstruction and Nixon's resignation. Alexander Butterfield was not anonymous but provided the straw that broke the camel's back.

  91. There is really no doubt that Donald J. Trump was Russia's candidate for the Presidency and they supported his campaign from the beginning to the successful triumph on election day. That Trump owes his success to the Russians is a viable explanation for his hiring so many Russia friendly aides and Cabinet appointments, from Rex Tillerson, long a friend of Vladimir Putin, as Secretary of State (was Tillerson Putin's choice?) to General Michael Flynn who was feted in a Russia dinner and seated at the same table as Putin, Manafort who had a long list of business dealing with the Russian oligarchs, Carter Page who was under FBI investigation for his Russia leanings well before other evidence of Trump's Russia connections were disclosed, and Jeff Sessions who failed to disclose Russian connections in congressional testimony.

    Russia certainly does not wish this country well. Why then does there seem to be a love affair between Trump and Russia? From revealing an intelligence secret to the Russian Ambassador who visited him in his White House office in the first weeks of his administration to the lack of concern among fellow Republicans about the close ties between Trump and Russia, have they all agreed to sell us all out? Are the Republicans conspiring with Trump even American any more?

  92. Trump is sitting on the Schiff Democratic memo because he knows that Americans are easily distracted by his twists and turns, so each day he has a new tweet or enemy lined up. The Investigation of Russian interference in our election and Trump’s part in it must stay on everyone’s radar screen if they care about democracy in this country. The major offense that Trump and the GOP lackeys are guilty of is aiding and abetting Putin to destroy democracies. May they all fall down.

  93. With so many people close to Trump being connected with Russia and Trump himself having so misrepresented his own connections with Russia why are his supporters continuing to ignore the obvious reality there is something not right?

  94. Answer: They don't read. They don't think for themselves. They watch Fox news?

  95. The die-hard supporters will ignore any and all facts because they believe them to be fabrications by the media, Democrats, the intelligence community and FBI/DoJ. The die-hard supporters are also in general uninformed on how the government should work and how the Trump administration is trampling on the investigation process. Even Nixon, after resigning, had 20%+ who supported him. Next election, folks need to turn out and vote to ensure this situation does not happen again.

  96. If there is evidence that Russia's interference had conspiracy help from the Trump election campaign personnel and even Trump himself, and election laws were violated to the extent that the whole election is found, by the Courts, to be null and void, then the House and Senate are not legally elected bodies and can't impeach and convict Trump. So the U.S. needs a totally new election, in that case, starting from the primaries. So Mueller should just impeach Trump and ry him in federal court.

    Didn't Flynn and Papadopoulos plead guilty to lying to the FBI over their being Russian Agents?

  97. And then another "election" after that. Can't you see that you can't keep rolling the dice till you win?

  98. Roger, there is little or no evidence that the entire election was tainted.

    The courts do not declare elections null and void, anyway. For example, when the courts throw out district gerrymandering, they do not mandate new elections to replace the old, but new districting going forward.

    Mueller does not have the power to impeach Trump or remove him from office. Only Congress does.

    Mueller may not even have the authority to indict Trump.

    While lying was part of the charges, it was not that they were "Russian agents". As to Manafort, it was his failure to register as a foreign agent -- of Turkey and a Ukrainian, Russian-backed party.

    Time for both of us to review the charges and make sure just what was stated.

    It may also be the tip of the iceberg. Other charges could be brought against these individuals!

  99. I think it’s interesting that it is never mentioned that approximately 4-5 percent of the people who will be eligible to vote have not reached the age of 18 yet and the flip side is that same percentage will have passed away before the 2020 election. If I was the GOP I would be quite concerned about that knowing the debt they have created for these young people, the rising costs of a college degree and their environmental policies do not sit well a vast majority of people this age.

  100. Do not fool yourself. There is a very large number of old people who are concerned about what is happening in our nation.

  101. The Republicans are counting on the consistent trend of voter turn out, which skews toward older voters.

    Americans are counting on our younger voters to get out during the next few crucial elections and right the wrongs that have been done to their generation.

  102. Nice stat! Alas, most young people do not vote while a majority of their elders do, meaning that the potential 8 percentage point swing is far, far less.

    Plus, many older folks voted Democratic and many younger voted Republican, so that makes the demographic change have even less of an effect.

    Still, getting out the vote is key!

  103. The Russia investigation is a smokescreen to cover the Democrats refusal to mount a state by state campaign for a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and other badly needed social reforms that their voter base desires but which would offend their corporate funders.

  104. Can't two things be true at once? Democrats should have campaigned more in the rust belt AND Russia was interfering in the election on trump"? If the latter is true, as our intelligence agencies have concluded, don't you want to know about it?

  105. @Red Allover, although I question your logic, I do despair that the Dems haven’t done these popularly-supported things. Money talks, and evidently money isn’t asking for free college tuition. More’s the pity. Imagine how popular the Dems would be in a state where they implemented single-payer health care and free tuition.

  106. The Democrats did campaign, vigorously, on those very issues.

    It was in their platform, in Clinton and Kaine's stump speeches, promoted by surrogates all across the nation, state after state, in rallies, in legislative proposals, at the convention, etc.

    But then James Comey struck and that was all it took to swing 30,000-40,000 votes in three states.

    The investigation is into a serious matter and arose, independently, and well before Hillary lost the election to Trump -- well, lost the EV vote!

  107. Mark Mazzetti: "Yes, I would assume that Mr. Mueller has access to any financial documents he wants, including the president’s tax returns."
    No wonder Trump wants to scuttle the investigations. Even if Robert Mueller has evidence of money laundering or other criminal activities, he can't bring charges against Trump, because "a sitting president cannot be indicted." The question is whether the charges could still damage Trump in a way that citizens or public opinion might still be able force him out of office? Could Mueller persuade Trump to resign of his own volition, to spare the humiliation? But then Pence would replace Trump - not exactly a palatable idea.

  108. Many commenters question the wisdom of the ongoing investigations, revealing their incomprehension or indifference to having a foreign government impose its will upon them. I do believe that finding the truth is legitimate and justified, and many Americans deserve to know what went on in 2016. These investigations take time, but for the sake of history, they need to be carried out.

  109. Yes, why the desperate refusal to provide tax returns? Why does he not sign the sanctions that the GOP Congress has passed? This is not a nothing burger- its more of a Saint Petersburger.

  110. Good, but let us follow the bread crumb trail to Hillary and Obama. Do you want to go there?

  111. "Americans understandably do not want the Kremlin to have a covert role in determining who becomes the American president."

    This sentence virtually leaped off the page when I read it. Like many who post here regularly, I've followed this investigation with increasing despair because of the way so much of it has become politicized.

    It's as if the Russian hacking and interference is some sort of big nothing in the minds of many, an awful lot of them elected officials in Congress.

    This is the first time in US history that a sitting president and members of his party have actively worked to discredit the people conducting this investigation. Had I asked a question of the Times, it would have been this: why aren't more people really concerned about how this country seems to be losing it's grip on the rule of law?

    Why aren't more disgusted by the antics of Devin Nunes and the participation of the Judiciary Committee to persecute the infamous author of the "dossier," instead of the fact that this president's campaign could have conspired with a foreign adversary to steal a US election?

    This to me is the most salient aspect of this investigation, should it be allowed to continue (by no means certain): why are so many Americans, in and out of Congress, so willing to protect Donald Trump from this investigation?

  112. Let's not forget the complete thrashing of Ken Starr by the Clinton allies. Convenient memories don't change the facts.

  113. Reality check do we really have two party system or is it so we can say we have choice in reality same club

  114. In reading the replies to my comment, I see the Russian trolls are out in force, bad grammar and all. Which proves my point.

  115. Would someone please explain this to me in Mother Goose language? A sitting president can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, but a sitting president cannot be indicted?

  116. In fact, while there is a Justice Department memo or guideline about not indicting a sitting president, major constitutional lawyers disagree; many argue the president can indeed be indicted.

    One of the funny things is that the rationale for NOT indicting a sitting president is that it would interfere with the carrying out of his duties. A semi-plausible rationale, but one that can hardly apply in the case of someone who spends most of his day watching TV and tweeting, does not read or even take his daily intelligence briefings, and is gone much of the time to his resorts where he is off playing golf.

    Indicting him would NOT interfere with his presidential duties at all!


  117. Impeach first. Indict later.

  118. "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" are whatever Congress decides they are - therefore it is a political move. Indictments reflect criminal charges - violation of existing laws.

  119. The questions are good.

    The answers are, perhaps, too brief but fairly good as summaries.

    Except for the answer on the use of anonymous sources. “Just trust us at The NY Times to understand why the anonymous source is leaking what they are leaking and to make sure that the story reflects the, perhaps, slanted nature of the leak.” Is not good enough from the newspaper that got burned by Judy Miller.

  120. Look where she is now! Fox no news, opinions and speculations only!

  121. Yes, the Times’ answer about anonymous sources was a bit of an avoidance dance. We have to trust them; they have to earn our trust. How are they earning our trust, especially with answers like this one?

  122. One thing that's left out of these uncomfortable discussions is that no charge has been made against Trump.

    The Russians interfered with our elections. But the charges made against Trump's associates are about things like lying, and taxes. Not working with the Russians to swing the election.

    Mueller is investigating whether Trump or his associates did, in fact, work with the Russians, and to what extent.

    But many people are convinced that he did. And frustrated that it'staking so long to prove it, so he can be impeached.

    That is mixing up wishful thinking and the legal process that is taking place.

  123. Talbot, don't forget that there is plenty of evidence of coordination and contacts with the Russians!

    The charges about lying are directly related to that as several leading Trump aides lied on federal forms and to Congress about their *Russian* contacts. Not just any old lying, but specifically about their Russian connections. Another hid his well-paid work for Russian-backed Ukrainian politician-- another of the charges. That definitely forms a pattern.

    Then, keep in mind, that big meeting in Trump Tower with Trump's campaign manager, his son-in-law, and others with the Russians -- to get the dirt on Hillary -- and Trump's own drafting of a cover up, misleading statement about it!

    Connect the dots with his praising of Putin, his changing the Republican Party's platform to a pro-Russia stance on Ukraine, his unhinged repeated tweeting about "no collusion, no collusion", and his repeated calls for the Russians to release Hillary's emails and other material, and you have prima facie evidence of malfeasance.

    Add in Trump's firing of Comey and his order to fire Mueller (which was blocked), his pressuring aides to declare loyalty to him and to publicly declare him innocent, among other actions, and you also have clear evidence of obstruction of justice.

    So, there is good reason people are concerned and why even these early steps are, in fact, connected evidence!

  124. Newspapers continually repeat the talking point that no e evidence of votes being changed.
    You have no proof that they were not changed because there is no way to check. IT is repeated over and over because the validity of the election would be 100% in question. 100% in question. Could you imagine the panic and anger .The massive civil unrest? The talking point is a way to keep the peace.

  125. Trump is dangerous.

    I heard today that Trump and the Republican Party intends to import 11-20 million Russians into this country.

    They are going to portray them all as innocent kids who did no wrong. All college kids and army veterans who volunteer the few times they are not working hard.

    Then they will force the country to grant those 11-20 million Russian illegal economic migrants with citizenship. They expect, rightfully, that those they help, by refusing the enforce the law, will vote for them.

    And, folks, 11-20 million new voters will make a huge difference in elections. In 2012 about 129,000,000 ballots were cast. 20 million new Russian votes, from illegal economic migrants intentionally allowed to come into the country, would be over 15 percent of the electorate.

    And that, folks, is how democracy dies. Don't like your own citizens? Create new citizens. People won't vote for you? Bribe foreigners to vote for you.

    I am disgusted by the behavior of Trump and the Republicans. Can't win elections on the merits? Just import new voters until you win.

  126. Hmm... sounds like the DEM plan right now with the 12-20 million illegals currently here.

  127. A central question, that seems to get lost in this coverage, is whether President Trump has been compromised by the Kremlin. Despite the Russian investigation, Trump continues his bizarre infatuation with Putin. Add to this, the Trump Organization's history of using questionable, if not unsavory, sources of financing its business. Only by following the money will Mueller and his team uncover the existence and extent of the underlining Kompromat.

  128. Another one of these trump lies and blatant collusions and yet no consequences. Don’t we have checks and balances in our government, so where are they? trump is clearly breaking the law in the highest office. We need to stop entertaining intellectual curiosity items about this guy and hold him to account for doing everything from obstructing investigations to enriching himself by refusing to divest interests. His henchmen keep trying to normalize the abnormality of his behavior. Nothing about his time in office has been normal and nothing about him has changed. He is grossly incompetent and proves it daily. He is using the office to enrich himself and his spawn, and proves it daily.

  129. I have a question and a follow-up: Is the Trump administration behaving the way that innocent people behave? If so, then how do you account for the fact that two former members of that Mr. Trump's team have already pleaded guilty?

  130. It seems their only way out is with an all out attack on reason itself. Facts get countered with counter-facts or false equivalencies.
    We were raised on reason, objective truth, and two wrongs not making a right.
    This administrations Russian connections combine with their lack of security clearances to spell out in capitol letters what’s going down.
    Maybe reason itself is not ingrained but is an acquired trait. It never occurred to me to think that...until now.

  131. It is burningly obvious that Trump is covering up something, dividing the country intentionally, even actively working to undermine the GOP as well as our institutions. What is astounding to me still, is that the GOP is rolling over for him--paying legal fees for a con artist, really? Why? That's insane. What little hope I had that they would recognize Trump for the cancer he is, and do the right thing when the investigation concludes, is completely lost.

  132. This investigation has been going on for months without any results. It will continue like this indefinitely. Is this stupidity? Inefficiency? Incompetence? Not at all. It's American.

  133. What if it turns out that Trump has not so much colluded with the Russians in the sense of consciously working with them to subvert our democratic system as been compromised by them through loans and complicity in money laundering to such a point that—whether he realizes it or not—he is unable to act independently?

  134. Mr. Trump behaves in many abhorrent ways, but his behavior to this time does not constitute evidence of collusion with Russia during the campaign and does not constitute evidence of financial wrongdoing with the Russians. The article offers assumptions and speculations that again do not amount to evidence. These pieces provide enjoyable reading to those of us who "believe" the President is guilty of some impeachable or other offense or crime, but until we see evidence, more likely than not coming from Mr. Mueller's probes, we should not jump to conclusions not supported by evidence. The wheels of justice grind slowly but exceedingly fine and we must show patience until we know more about the evidence. Waiting patiently will reveal the underlying truths about Trumps' (Donald, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Jerold) misdeeds. In the meantime, we must all practice an insistent vigilance that our 2018 election is not polluted and jeopardized by Russian influence through social media manipulation, hacking and other electronic interventions.

  135. My additional question would be: How much of the Mueller investigation's findings will in fact ever become public knowledge? I have heard that it will be up to the Deputy AG to determine how much and what information will be publicly released. If Trump succeeds in installing a sycophant in position after firing Rosenstein, again if, is it possible we could never be told of the investigation's results?

  136. I think we need a law that states a person winning the nomination to run for President has to have a top level security clearance. If we had that law today we would not have Donald Trump in the White House.

  137. One note of caution. None of us know whether Mueller has any real evidence of anything. People assuming impeachment if House flips to Democratic control in November also need to assume that Mueller has something real, not obstruction of justice in the form of firing Comey.

  138. The primary purpose of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not to take down Mr. Trump. It’s to protect America’s national security and the integrity of its elections by determining whether a presidential campaign conspired with a foreign adversary to influence the 2016 election — a proposition that grows more plausible every day.

  139. An interesting way for The Times to break the bad news to its most ardent anti-Trump readers. Impeachment is a dream. So far no one near Trump has been indicted for anything relating to Russia. (Had the Feds gone after democratic lobbyists, they would likely have swept up a few, too.)

    The best defense is a good offense. Remember Russian hacking attempts took place on Obama's watch. Hillary needed an excuse for her loss. Everyone hated Trump and believed just about anything, including an unsubstantiated piece of campaign opposition research. The result: "Trump collusion".

  140. THIS CLEARLY WRITTEN COLUMN Is of great help, since it clarifies succinctly many complex issues and questions about the issue of Russian meddling in the US election of 2016. What remains to be seen is what form the Russian interference will take going forward. The dark clouds on the horizon look ominous.

  141. This kind of dialog is really useful - it’s one thing to read everything, but it’s another to engage in a dialog with your readers reminding them of meaningful journalism. I take for granted that best journalistic practice is being observed by the Times, but obviously not everyone does. That aside, pulling together the context and pulling things into historical context is helpful.

  142. It's impossible to express how baffling this--this pretense that there is no "there, there," the laughable assertions that this is just guesswork or a malign attempt to bring down someone dangerous, the assertion that we have to wait until there is evidence-- is.

    It's like being caught in "Groundhog Day" played in slow-mo on a continuous loop 24/7. There are days I think stabbing my eyes out with a dull pencil is the only way to survive watching evidence mount as the GOP fails to do its job.

    No there, there? Other than the 8 times DJT has contacted the Russians without telling his own staff, security council, Congress, or we, the people and we only learn about it from Russia. The former Ambassador to Russia confirmed last night that it's unprecedented in our history with them.

    Other than the numerous clandestine meetings between WH advisers and Russians in secret locations hither and yon. Other than the June meeting between family members and top aids and Russians, including a known spy, an event which two former Watergate prosecutors have confirmed would --ipso facto & alone-- have been enough to bring criminal charges. Wine-Banks noted last June that that was proof enough of both collusion and cover-up and was impeachment worthy.

    Sure. Other than the fact that we can't go a degree out from DJT in any direction without bumping into connections with spies, former KGB, or the evidence of $ laundering. Other than all of THAT there's nothing there. Right.

    It's insane.

  143. I have to wonder: Though Mueller's investigation has been largely free of leaks so far, will that change? It's quite possible that a few carefully-chosen and well-timed leaks leading up to the mid-terms could assure that the Democrats take the House, provided the Democrats run enough attractive candidates in key states. If the investigation has in fact uncovered criminal acts, and Mueller's team can bring charges, that would be one way of assuring that the POTUS and his cronies are held accountable.

  144. I am shocked that a top Russian Official is a long time member of the NRA. The "National" in its title should prohibit that. Is there a counterpart for that, a top US Official in a Russian national organization? Because the NRA exerts a lot of power and influence in US right wing politics this is frightening.

  145. The suggestion that Republicans simply will not impeach is wrong. If Trump shared state secrets with the Russians, he’s a dead duck. If his people stole sensitive documents from Hillary and turned them over to the Russians, he’s a dead duck. If he helped the Russians to tamper with voting, he’s a dead duck. If you give the Republicans something that they can sink their teeth into, they will indict. Technical violations and illegal acts that didn’t affect anything will not do the trick. Firing Comey, for example is a non- starter. I think these are the correct priorities for the Republicans and I am note convined that they will vote against impeachment whatever the evidence may be.

  146. The longer this goes on the more it shows a weak country, both past Federal and State Governments and individual voters, being pushed around by outside forces. Welcome to America.

  147. The NRA is just a Putin patsy and probably not directly gaining influence for Russia but the US oil and gas industry is another story. Just look at what Tillerson is doing ... at the annihilation of our state department for example. Other foreign interests are given free access to US power as investors in our major corporations that are treated as citizens and make hefty campaign contributions all the time. Trump says the "Open for Business" sign is out; but it is rather more "For Sale".

  148. I believe David Cay Johnstone that Trump would be likely to just ignore a subpoena, or just as with the absurd rigged election claims in 2016 would break normal conventions and start an insurrection even if Mueller did manage to succeed. What about the current attempts of Nunes to flagrantly throw a spanner in Mueller's works? Perhaps Nunes will himself find the FBI knock knock knockin' on Devin's door.

  149. I have prosecuted countless tax cases. Indeed, Mueller can get Trump's tax returns for various reasons. But no tax case can be prosecuted without approval of the Tax Division of the Justice Department. So Mueller does not have the final word on tax charges. The head of the Tax Division is a career professional, and appears to be a faceless bureaucrat. He should be a straight shooter. Another thing -- if there is a tax investigation ongoing, there is an IRS agent working with Mueller -- that is required. If the press got to know the investigators, they could tell us right now if there were a tax investigation being conducted.

  150. Russia's meddling and Trump's winning have been conflated by the press. Even though he's acting like a guilty child it doesn't mean he assisted them in the meddling. He's annoyed that it's been such a distraction and being hyped as a weapon to discredit the legitimacy of his election.

    None of that is to excuse any of his policies or behavior. There are ample issues to discredit the man sitting in broad daylight without spending all of our time and energy investigating a shady world of the unknowable.

  151. The average American watching the Trump administration do everything possible to stop this investigation has to conclude that Trump is guilty of something. The longer we have to wait to find out what it is the more danger we are in. Please, please Mr. Mueller it is time to start leaking your findings so we know if we are in danger.

  152. As in many criminal investigations, just follow the money. Therein will you find the answer to most of these questions, not just about Trump or Russia, but about many other nations, particularly those who benefit from US largesse. Of course, considering how many elections around the world that the US has influenced and governments we have toppled, as in 'regime change', not to mention leaders we have 'neutralized', it seems we are being a bit too sensitive. We're still doing it...and not just with elections, i.e., Syria. Let's face it, our hands are not all that clean, either.

  153. The answer on whether it would be a crime if Trump of his associates received information from Russian officials during the campaign (or the transition) should also mention the possibility of a Logan Act violation.

    Under the Logan Act it is a federal crime for a person who is not an authorized government official to attempt to negotiate any "disputes or controversies with the United States" with an agent or official of a foreign government.

    Surely Mueller is looking for evidence that the Trump campaign and/or transition attempted to negotiate a softening off sanctions in exchange for Russian release of hacked Clinton e-mails.

  154. I have a beef with this statement:

    "That said, stories about the Russia investigation — or any sensitive national security issue — would not be possible without the use of anonymous sources."

    Flagrantly untrue. The US news media (or any member of it) could easily adopt a strategy the precludes such a condition. And while we have experienced many examples of greater information and earlier reporting as a direct example of the practice, I cannot fail to note that other countries/cultures have some benefits from keeping a tighter lid on news:

    1. Untoward effects from publicizing something: in the Manchester concert bombing, the British police forces announced they were no longer speaking to their American counterparts or media because their threads of investigation were uncovered.
    2. The profit-motive has imbued media here with an absolute frenzy to be the first to pass on a bit of information. But is this actually beneficial? Was our collective consciousness (not to mention final legal and social resolution) of the Las Vegas shooter actually advanced by hearing a second man was under investigation? It turned out to be a hobbyist bullet maker, and I don't doubt he'll be punished in some appropriate way for a technical crime...but I argue that stoking this vast demand for any fact is net destructive.

    All the news that's fit to print does not equal all the news that's fit to read.

  155. It is particularly alarming that Trump made it so easy for the Russians. He publicly encouraged and embraced them. Trump and the GOP have provides a confidence to our enemies large and small.

  156. The president openly sought the interference of Russia in the campaign when he publicly encouraged them to seek out Hillary Clinton's emails. It couldn't be more clear that he cares nothing for the rule of law. His enablers in Congress do nothing. Meanwhile the courts are being stacked with partisans. Either we right ourselves in the next election or I fear that our American experiment in Democracy is at an end. Trump will not resign in disgrace or change. He will, if possible, impose martial law and start locking up his political enemies.

  157. The responses by Mark Mazzetti to readers’ questions are appropriately measured and restrained. It would be unfortunate, however, if the impression is left that Republican control of the House precludes irreversible progress from occurring in the Mueller inquiry before the November election.

    The fact is that one or two more indictments of persons close to Donald Trump, with even a bare minimum of information in the charging documents, may be enough to accelerate the process. Many Republicans in both the Senate and House may find themselves politically compelled to call for appointment of a Select Committee on Impeachment on a date certain.

  158. I would like some explanation for why when we have had interaction at least eight times with Russian officials or Trump/Putin meetings or calls information about them has come from the Russian Press not American media. Why did the three Russian top officials come here to meet with CIA and NSC? How did one enter the country when he was under sanctions? This is strong Russian influence and direction of the Trump Administration and the American government in plain sight, yet nothing is said or done by our media, the GOP or even the Democrats in Congress. Are we already being more than influenced by Russia and Putin? No one wants to answer that question, or even ask it except Rachel Maddow.

  159. Is gross negligence a crime? This administration is knowingly and purposely not dealing with a national security issue. How can this be legal?

  160. Trump will almost certainly contrive a foreign conflict. In the ensuing military chaos, he will arrogate even more imperial powers to himself and detonate nuclear devices, thus burying any chance of a discovery on the part of Mueller.

  161. Too bad no one asked them if they thought this endless investigation of a US President was damaging in any way to the United States and if there had been ANY evidence produced so far that indicated Trump had "conspired with the Russians in some way.
    That might have shed some light on the ramifications of this politically motivated inquiry and it's ramifications.

  162. America has yet to face the fact that it lost a cyberwar to Russia in 2016, the result of which was the election of Trump. The destruction and discord he is wreaking is precisely what they were after and they have achieved it beyond their wildest dreams. It has not been lost on the Russians that their defeat in the Cold War was largely due to military spending; bankruptcy in other words, of which Trump is the master. The Russians know a useful fool when they see one. As do the Mercers, Kochs and Murcdochs who joined the alliance.

    Defeat is hard to face; but every delay in addressing the hard facts makes matters worse. This is no time for parades. It is time to put down that vicious, corrupt pack of curs known as the Republican Party, once and for all.

  163. 'If, for example, campaign officials told Russians to break into the Democratic National Committee’s servers, then the officials could be in legal jeopardy.'

    Trump invited the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's deleted emails during a debate. The whole world heard it, and yes, it put him in legal jeopardy, or at least it should have. Those were State Dept. emails. Yet apparently the Justice Dept. took no action. A terrible cowardly folly.

  164. I assume that those who are investigating this Russian issue are being paid by the hour. Would that not serve as an incentive to keep the investigation going as long as possible? Is there any kind of control to keep that from happening?

  165. The team Mueller has assembled have each given up million dollar salaries to serve their country. They are losing money daily. They are not motivated by a government salary - get real.

  166. Maybe the next wave of Democrats should become Putin's new BFF's? Figure out what Putin is getting out of Trump and kick it up a notch?

  167. How can a sitting president be above the law? I do not understand this concept. Can a constitutional scholar please explain? How is impeachment sufficient if a sitting president should be charged/indicted? Can it happen after impeachment?

  168. Trumps first year of his first term:
    6 members of Trumps inner circle are under federal criminal investigation, 2 indictments and 2 guilty pleas.

    Jared Kushner is being investigated for $money laundering. So, why does he have access to classified information?

  169. Let me augment the non-answer to the question comparing CIA complicity in election disruption with similar Russian complicity. If the US does it, it is OK; if others do it, it is bad. This applies to election interference, nuclear weapons and a wide range of other things.

  170. If there is evidence of money laundering, but a sitting president can’t be indicted on criminal charges, would there still be a path to impeachment based on the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard? Money laundering is a rather “high crime,” isn’t it? Would an impeachment path depend on whether purported money laundering makes Trump vulnerable to manipulation, thereby creating a national security risk or at least extreme conflicts of interest? Unfortunately, I have little doubt that even if they’re presented with clear evidence of money laundering, this GOP Congress would take absolutely no action against Trump.

  171. Your responses tell me that no matter what Mueller's investigation reveals, nothing in the way of punishment will happen to Donald. I guess we'll have to do it the old fashioned way - vote the guy out of office.

  172. I think the preparations for the funeral are a bit premature. It reminds me of when the Republican senators filed in for Clinton's impeachment all dressed in funereal dark suits and wearing grim expressions on their faces. It was somewhat comical,but at least they had Clinton on a perjury charge. However, to their disappointment it was their own funeral.

  173. When the Clinton and DNC aspect of this gets fully aired, many a liberal "news" outlet, like this megaphone for the muddled, will exhibit circus-like contortions running away from it. Timing? Oh, how about September, 2018? Does that fit your midterm strategies? Well, it fits some others'.

  174. Did you meet at the Mayflower hotel with the Russians:
    (1) Sessions: I don't recall
    (2) Kushner: I don't remember and I left it out of my security clearance forms many times over but it wasn't important
    (3) Corey Lewandowski: I was there only for a short time including being campaign manager
    (4) Bud McFarlane: Why are you asking me?
    (5) Paul Manafort: Same as (3)
    (6) Trump: I was not there and when you see what is going on in our country and you see that and lots of other things, you know what is going on

  175. There are always those elephants in the room who may escape fair scrutiny: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the Internet, Fox News, and every form of social media that there is. Enemies are enemies, but when does the victim become complicit in the crime? And that alleged email server....really? Does it compare?
    And then the "legitimate" press, who never called out lies during the election, and still seem weak. Look at what we have now, and wonder.

  176. Trump is a highly paid Russian asset. He received his payments in the form of Russian oligarchs and mobsters overpaying for real estate. Lock him up. Now.

  177. Short but right!
    Hear hear!

  178. Why does the Times refer to the Steele document as a "dossier"? Based upon the amount of things proven, wouldn't the term "novella" be more appropriate? Now we are learning the "novella" contained information developed by, of all people, Sydney Blumenthal. We knew the Obama administration worked with the Clinton campaign to spy upon Trump, but that little factoid settled any argument about their intentions and purposes. Obviously, the collusion of the two was political spying, not investigation. The Times appears to still be "all in" on Trump-Russia "collusion". When Fusion GPS and Sydney Blumenthal use Russian "sources" to facilitate the Obama administration spying on Trump, does that count as "collusion" also? Considering the large amount of Clinton-Russia business interests (Clinton Foundation donations, John Poedesta's company) the lack of interest is surprising. (Just joking. It's no surprise.) Like the Justice Department and FBI, the Times has had its thumb on the scale since the beginning. Ya'll better start thinking about the consequences if it turns out the Trump-Russia "collusion" was all a ruse to justify the Obama administration working with the Clinton campaign to spy on Trump. I think most people would consider it unusual for an administration to work with one campaign against another using the nation's intelligence services and justice department.

  179. The dossier is a collection of memos.

  180. The GOP can't win without the Russians. They can't win without Trump. So the GOP sides with two despots because they lust for power.

  181. Why is it that what is being questioned is whether the CIA or whom ever, started the investigation illegally or with evil intent?
    The only pertinent question is whether the President acted illegally or had knowledge that his subordonates or asociates did so.
    For the President of the US, tryng to stop the investigation on technicalities like a any gangster would do, is simply shamefull;
    Worse, it makes him look not only guilty, but knowing that he is, and just trying ro get away from the consequences

  182. "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."

    We need to look very closely at the "adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort" clause. Mueller can easily see that: 1) Russia under Putin - and the rest of the oligarch mafia, for he does not stay in power without their assent - is indeed an enemy of the United States; 2) the connections between Russia and the Trump campaign and administration are real; 3) installation of top officials in cabinet posts who are dedicated to tearing down the departments they are supposed to oversee is a destruction of the United States from within. There is more than simple coincidence going on, and it needs to be called out for what it is: treason.

  183. Let's never forget that Trump himself wouldn't pass a security check, if it weren't for his special situation.

  184. The Russian collusion scandal is fake. There is no collusion. Never has been. Russia collusion is a democrat attempt supported by the willing lapdogs in the media to sabotage this presidency. It isn't working. We got tax cuts. Soon we will get the wall. The agenda is on track. Nice try.

  185. You may parrot Trump's lies all you like. Manafort, Gates and other Trump henchmen have already been indicted for conspiracy against the United States.

  186. I am really concerned about Russian interference in our elections.

    I am equally concerned about all the illegal immigrants that the Democratic Party wants to grant citizenship to.

    It is the same thing- foreigners being involved in our elections. I don't want Putin involved and I do not want millions of illegal economic migrants involved.

  187. When did your family come over?

  188. You represent the very center of American thinking.
    There is a vacuum at the middle can be filled by folks like yourself.
    Personally I’m pro immigrant but I understand your position.

  189. Greater than Russian collusion is Democrat collusion that is preventing us from moving past 2016. All kinds of objections and criticisms of Trump are put forward by the poor losers who can't accept that they lost but hypocritically pretend that their chief concern is for the good of the country. They are only fooling themselves.

  190. Hope for full disclosure on the Russian inquiry lies with S.C. Mueller and the Congress, not the White House.

  191. The place to go for detailed and exhaustively researched information on past hacking is Mike Farb, @unhackthevote on twitter. He also has good advice for states and polling districts on preventing future meddling in elections.

  192. "The expectation is that Mr. Mueller will deliver his findings to Rod Rosentein, the deputy attorney general, who will then decide how to proceed from there."

    Rod will spare the spoiled child.

  193. Downright Shakespearean!

  194. Excellent Q & A!

    Keep them coming!

  195. This is a Democratic train to nowhere .. Trump has brilliant lawyers and spending millions defend himself -- OJ only spent $10 million and got away with murder.

    It's going to take more than DACA, #MeToo and better movie roles for transgender actors if the DEMS think they can they can reclaim seats in 2018 and beyond..

  196. Trump's "brilliant lawyers" can't agree on anything and refuse to get out of each others' way. Watching his legal brain trust in action gives this Democrat hope.

  197. Mueller is getting to the bottom of the matter......let us hope that the Trump Machine does not derail him. It is time to clean this house of shame of Donald Trump.....let us get on with it. Democracy is in danger, all over the world. And the primary cause lies with us.

  198. In my opinion, the NYTimes would be more effective in its editorials if it took the less frenzied approach seen in this article. It also wouldn't hurt to explain and explain in some detail the general process of using anonymous sources more often. The NYTimes seems frenzied at times on the issue of Trump rather than calm and dignified and fair.
    Trump is unfit to be President in a thousand ways. He had no experience and has no understanding of the Constitution. He's a narcissist, serial liar, and sex assaulter. He's corrupt. He's got his finger on the button. But the founders--for all their faults--anticipated all this except the last and the question is how to best get him out of office.

  199. As Mark Mazzetti points out, collusion with a foreign power to influence an election is only unlawful if it involves violations of U.S. laws. Accepting or soliciting disparaging or incriminating information about political rivals from foreign powers is not a crime. So forget about the Trump Tower meeting or George Papadopoulos’ failed efforts to arrange meeting with shadowy Russians.

    So far the only crime that committed during the 2016 election campaign appears to be the DNC email hack and its subsequent publication by WikiLeaks. The U.S. intelligence community has never asserted as established fact that Russia hacked DNC email. In its report (Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Election), the intelligence community stated it had “high confidence” in its judgment that Russia hacked the DNC servers. But in Annex B (Estimative Language) of its report, the Intelligence Community explains that “high confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty, such judgements might be wrong.” Meanwhile WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has offered to provide proof WikiLeaks did not get the DNC email from Russia. The United States should take Assange up on his offer. If the evidence Assange provides proves conclusive, The Justice Department should close the Russian investigation.

  200. You've tried this move before; it's still nonsense. It's the same kind of nonsense that leaves global warming deniers shrieking, "The scientist says they only have HIGH CONFIDENCE in warming!! SEE! They DON'T KNOW!!"

    The way this work in modern scientific parlance and general discussion is this: one may only have various levels of "confidence," in anything: a scientific fact, a poll result, a lab result, whatever.

    We only have high confidence that the sun will come up tomorrow. That doesn't mean you shouldn't set the alarm clock and plan to go to work.

    Please learn the lingo, or stop trying to make it say something it isn't saying.

  201. I think you misread my comment. My point is that "high confidence" isn't proof.

  202. Is it true that Trump and the Republicans want to import 11-20 million Russians in order to win future elections?

    I have heard they intend to import all those people and then tell citizens they are college kids / army veterans / selfish volunteers all brought by their parents.

  203. The photo of Trump with Putin shows Trump being submissive.

    Given what we know of how Trump usually uses his handshake, we should all be concerned that here he is being dominated and seems okay with it.

  204. I have paid close attention to all the reporting and the only collusion that i can see is the Clinton Campaign and DNC paying a foreign agent (Steele) to gather dirt (Dossier) on a political foe using Russian intelligence sources. I'm sorry, but why is there not a special prosecutor for this?? My guess is that no one could believe that the cash flush Clinton machine could possibly lose to a political novice with no campaign cash or infrastructure, therefore DJT cheated. The irony in this investigation is staggering.

  205. How is that tyranny working out? Still hoping for a fair election in 2018? Even after trump has told you that the elections are rigged? Who says trump has run out of suckers....

    #calexit - there's no other way to freedom.

  206. "...the Justice Department is investigating whether President Trump or his advisers helped assist that campaign. The investigation has already brought the indictment of the former Trump campaign chairman — albeit on charges unrelated to Russian collusion — and Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. during the course of the investigation...

    The progressive narrative grows more shrill and fabulist by the day...

    The net of this piece and the commentista echo-chamber is that we should be concerned because Trump or his team...

    "may have conspired with the Russians"

    First - how???

    > Talking with people isn't collusion...

    > Neither is digging up political dirt on the opposition...If it were, Obama's and Clinton's teams - evidenced by their role in creating and disseminating the Steele dossier - would be overcrowding Federal prisons by now...

    > Likewise nope, for talking with representatives of foreign countries...

    Bluntly, I think the investigation - which has devolved into a witch-hunt in a pin-striped suit - was hoping to bludgeon some of the underlings into divulging an improper disclosure of classified information to some Russian representative...

    Even if incidental and trivial, a 2nd circle of bludgeoning could then begin...

    You all know what classified information is, by now...

    It's the stuff that was selectively leaked in torrents by the former administration - and blissfully drunk up by media like the NYT...

  207. You realize that this is a national security story, right? That we're talking cyberattacks and espionage and propaganda aimed at our country, the United States? And you think it's okay for Americans to get involved, communicate, coordinate, ask for stolen information, set up secure back channels, help out the campaign of our foreign adversary?

  208. The following excerpt tells it all:

    "At the same time, I’ll defend the amount of attention that The Times has paid to the Russia story and to Mr. Mueller’s investigation. It is an extraordinary moment: Intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took active steps to disrupt an American presidential election, and the Justice Department is investigating whether President Trump or his advisers helped assist that campaign."

    More damning than what we know about Russia's ham-handed attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, are the myriad of things we don't know, such as:

    How much did the Obama Administration know about what was going on? And what did or didn't they do to intervene?

    Ditto on the above regarding the Clinton campaign?

    Is this whole imbroglio an indication of how inept Russia was in their attempted interference? Or are the Russians crazy like a fox by taking a willfully amateurish ploy to twist it in to the national tempest it now has become?

    What attempts were made by others, especially the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Israelis and Arab nations or their agents, to similarity influence the election? Especially in regards to "contribution", direct or indirect, through organizations like the Clinton Foundation or global businesses like Goldman Sachs?

    In other words - our whole system and all of our "leaders" are corrupt and have debased every national interest for money and power. President Trump is just the most venal and most blatant of them all.

  209. The previous president should have been impeached . Another day and another front page bashing Trump . Where are the Hillary stories of collusion ?

  210. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton have ever been credibly accused of criminal behavior, charged with any crimes or indicted for any crimes. That doesn't stop Trump from lying about them, or from conning you into spreading the same lies.

  211. Impeached for what? Being black? Oh wait I forgot it's because he's muslim and was born in Africa or what not.

  212. If the Republican party pays DT jr's legal fees, is that counted as income?
    I would wager DT Jr was paid a salary by the campaign.

  213. Distilled to the end point, the DNC and Hillary Clinton paid for a dossier that was made up/fake and the FBI used this document to convince a judge to issue a FISA warrant to spy on an American. Simple enough for a liberal to follow.

  214. Except for the made up fake part, and except for the convince the judge part. Most of what is in the dossier has been corroborated, some of the corroboration the FBI knew when they first saw it. And it was what the FBI knew that was used to convince the judge. The warrant was issued after showing probable cause that Carter Page may have been working for a foreign power. It's an espionage warrant -- it is for a counterintelligence operation, and Carter Page was actually bragging that he had work from the Kremlin.

    Mike Flynn, the lock her up guy, the pleading the fifth means your guilty guy, has plead guilty to lying to the FBI, Paul Manafort is charged with working for a foreign power against the United States.

    Us liberals may be dumb but we're not stupid. You need to do a whole lot better than that before you ask us what we can or can't understand.

  215. Most of what is in the dossier has not been corroborated. If it was, the NYT would have a giant section describing what has, and has not, been corroborated. Since they haven't, we can infer that the picture is much muddier.

  216. It's a linguistically flawed narrative in the Times and virtually the whole media that uses -Russia- as the tag for what essentially is the Putin regime. Why blame the entire country and culture for what comes from the ruling elite? This tends to misinform the reader and cause him/her to think in strictly nationalistic terms. Us vs Them. This is how huge demographic enmities develop and grow. Could the Times journalist not make the R-word into something more accurate, like "Kremlin rulers" as a minimum?

  217. Your point is well taken.
    The global oligarchs which include Putin are the real danger.
    The Russian people haven’t behaved very well either. It’s not unfair to fear the Russian people themselves. They love Putin deeply.

  218. Putin couldn't be more happy that he has his clueless puppet in the WH. Trump knows that Putin has damaging materials about him. This stable smart genius is compromised period.

  219. Yes this story is a big deal...You're talking about an American presidential candiate possibly asking a foreign adversary to help him win an election...In return, if Trump is elected, might agree to remove sanctions...

    If Trump committed conspiracy against the United States, i think it is the biggest story since the Allied Powers won WW II....

  220. I have no brief for Trump, but how is Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with Russians hoping to get dirt on Hillary different from the Clinton campaign paying someone to get Russian dirt on Trump.

    I would welcome it if someone could point out any distinction that I am overlooking.

  221. Possibly...if...might...If...think...

    Sounds a bit weak