Throughout the presidential campaign and as early as 2015, numerous associates of then-candidate Donald Trump were approached by Russian nationals seeking to connect with and offer help to the Trump campaign.
And universally, those connections were gladly accepted by individuals in Trump’s orbit.
Axios noted on Saturday that court filings by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and, separately, special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that Trump associates’ contacts with Russians close to Vladimir Putin — for either political or business purposes — are extensive.
Garrett M. Graff writes on WIRED that Mueller’s court filings, "when coupled with other investigative reporting, paint a picture of how the Russian government, through various trusted-but-deniable intermediaries, conducted a series of 'approaches' over the course of the spring of 2016 to officials in Trump's orbit:
"The answer, from everyone in Trumpland — from Michael Cohen in January 2016, from George Papadopoulos in spring 2016, from Donald Trump, Jr. in June 2016, from Michael Flynn in December 2016 — appears to have been an unequivocal 'yes.'"
What is currently known, between Mueller’s revelations and news media reports, is that Trump’s people turned down not one offer of Russian assistance; rather, those offers were met with enthusiasm.
"Given every opportunity, most Trump associates — from Paul Manafort to Donald Trump, Jr. to George Papadopoulos — not only allegedly took every offered meeting, and returned every email or phone call, but appeared to take overt action to encourage further contact. Not once did any of them inform the FBI of the contacts."
And it all started even sooner than that. Yesterday's Mueller filing shows that a "Russian national who claimed ties to the Kremlin told ... Cohen ... as early as November 2015 that he could use his Russian government connections to help Trump’s business and political prospects," per the WashPost:
"The interaction between a top Trump lieutenant and a Russian citizen who claimed government ties is the latest of dozens of similar interactions that have emerged since the November 2016 election."
Regardless, Trump declared in a Friday tweet that he was somehow vindicated by the recent court filings, writing “Totally clears the President. Thank you!"