MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has spent several nights on her show walking viewers through the mounting ties between Russia and President Donald Trump, his campaign, his companies, members of his administration and former members of his administration. Tonight, she took it to a new level.
"What's getting to be, I think, particularly unsettling, is that simultaneously, we are ... number one, nailing down more direct connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government at the time the Russian government was influencing our election," Maddow began. "Number two, at the same time, we are also starting to see what may be signs of continuing influence in our country. Not just during the campaign but during the administration. Basically, signs of what could be a continuing operation."
She began with the campaign's ties, specifically Carter Page's ties to Russia, his trips to Moscow and his affiliation as a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. Maddow explained that just a week after Page was authorized to go to Moscow by the Trump campaign, the campaign pushed the GOP platform committee on a single issue: "They wanted language about Russia significantly softened in the Republican Party platform," Maddow said.
The language that was going to be in the GOP platform was about supporting Ukraine in the Russian invasion and advocated sending military support for it. But the Trump campaign got that language softened.
Maddow noted that the infamous "golden showers" dossier essentially said that this was what Russia wanted, a quid pro quo as part of their intervention on Trump's behalf in the election. The GOP and the U.S. had to soften on Ukraine. She said that there is no evidence to prove that Trump received help from Russia to win the election but that we do have evidence that the Trump campaign sidelined attempts by the GOP to side with Ukraine over Russia.
A campaign official has now admitted that the Trump campaign was behind the softening of the language around Ukraine and that it was done at Trump's request. Around the same time as the Republican convention, a Russian staffer of Paul Manafort's in Ukraine visited the U.S. and claimed credit for getting that language softened. The Manafort protege was Konstantin Kilimnik, who it turns out admitted in an August Politico profile that he was Russian Intelligence.
At the time he applied for the job, it was explained that it wasn't a big deal because he wasn't doing anything sensitive. "But then he turns up in a U.S. presidential campaign?" Maddow asked. "At the Republican National Convention? Changing the Republican Party's platform on Russia to make it more pro-Putin? And he's a GRU guy? He's a Russian military intelligence guy?"
Maddow explained that Russia wasn't doing Trump a solid, they weren't doing it for free or out of friendship, "they expected payback. And who thinks they'd be satisfied with a weakening of the position on Ukraine in their party platform as payment?"
Now, in Trump's administration, the longest serving senior members of the U.S. Foreign Service who have worked for the State Department under six or more presidents are now being let go. These people, Maddow says, are the ones who would know what was happening in Russia and would probably notice the ties between Trump and Russia. "That's a dream for the Russian government," Maddow continued.
She noted that just one week after the GOP convention when the party softened their platform on Russia, the first WikiLeaks data dump occurred. At the end of August, Roger Stone tweeted that it would soon be Podesta's turn. Sure enough, WikiLeaks next dumped Podesta's hacked emails just hours after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced of Trump saying he could grab women by their genitals. Today it was announced that the FBI has records of Stone communicating with the Russians that were behind the DNC hacks.
More and more Podesta emails dropped and Maddow noted that Russian state television even tweeted that another WikiLeaks release was happening even before it happened.
"You knew it was released even before it was released!" Maddow exclaimed. "How'd you know it was coming? How'd you know it was coming, Russia Today?"
She also noted that Nigel Farage was having dinner with Trump in his hotel in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago, but yesterday, he was at the WikiLeaks headquarters in London right before they gave their big press conference announcing their latest hit against the CIA. Maddow noted that those in the State Department, the FBI and the CIA are not fairing well in Trump's new administration.
"The Russian government attacked our election," Maddow said. "The Russian government was in contact with multiple campaign sources while they were doing it. Russian nemeses in the American government, U.S. State Department, the CIA, are not fairing well since Donald Trump came to power. Is the operation that Russia started during the campaign -- is it over? Or are they still running it? Are we still in this now?