Friday, October 19, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: The Russia connections

For the past week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates have been under house arrest following their indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller. A campaign staffer with contacts linked to the Kremlin is now cooperating with Muellerís probe into election interference. The Justice Department may bring charges against Russian officials responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Despite President Donald Trumpís best efforts, itís increasingly apparent that the White House is not going to be able to brush off the mounting evidence of Kremlin meddling.

The charges against Manafort and Gates donít concern election interference ó though normally a campaign chairmanís having laundered $75 million, much of it from pro-Kremlin political actors, would be scandal enough. Far more damning is the account of campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who appears to have been providing Muellerís team with information for months. After meeting a Kremlin-linked professor, Papadopoulos learned that the Russians had "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He repeatedly sought to connect with Russian officials and to broker a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And he was encouraged by at least one campaign official, Sam Clovis, who now serves as a senior White House adviser to the Agriculture Department.

In April 2016, the professor hinted at a trove of Clinton emails. In June, Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with a Russian lawyer in the expectation of receiving "dirt" on Clinton ó and, according to the lawyer, may have offered up policy concessions in exchange. Papadopoulos never succeeded in arranging the gathering between the two leaders, and the younger Trump labeled his meeting a dud. But in July, WikiLeaks began releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee ó which the senior Trump cited with glee.

By the Postís count, nine of Trumpís associates had direct contact with Russian officials during the campaign and presidential transition. This includes former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who coordinated a trip to Moscow in July 2016 with campaign officials. It also includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who reportedly rejected Papadopoulosís pitch for a Trump-Putin meeting but is facing renewed scrutiny of his congressional testimony regarding his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russian officials. In the room along with Sessions when Papadopoulos made his pitch was then-candidate Trump, who now says that he doesnít "remember much about" the meeting.

It is beyond dispute that the Russian government sought to help the Trump campaign and that some campaign officials were open to overtures from Russia. The question is how far that cooperation went and who on the campaign was aware of it. Did Papadopoulos mention the Kremlinís trove of Clintonís emails during the meeting with Trump and Sessions, for example? The presidentís tweeted declarations of "NO COLLUSION!" are not sufficient.

Comments
Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Editorial notebook: Times editorial writers reminisce about Sears

Sharing memories of the “wish book,” shopping on Saturday nights and many memorable purchases
Updated: 4 minutes ago

Editorial: FBI should take a hard look at CareerSource

The scrutiny now extends to the state agency that oversees the local jobs centers
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Editorial: Toughen Florida’s building code

Experts are right that Hurricane Michael should force a review of Florida’s building standards. While newer homes generally fared better than older ones, the state needs to reassess the risks posed by high winds and storm surge.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

Editorial: Those who fail to cast ballots in Hillsborough are running out of excuses

You wouldn't skip a trip to the gas pump, would you?Then don't miss the chance to cast your general election ballot, either, when Hillsborough County opens its many early voting sites Monday morning for a two-week engagement.If you do your homework a...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Editorial: Glazer Children’s Museum quickly regained its step

Jennifer Stancil was terminated from her $169,280 a year job last month as museum president and chief executive, a post she held for three years. Exactly why remained a mystery to those outside the museum.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Editorial: Trump should demand Saudis account for journalist

Twenty-seven journalists have been murdered so far this year just for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That number doesn’t even include Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who hasn’t been ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

A proposal that goes to the three-county utility Tampa Bay Water on Monday could benefit residents, the economy and the environment across the region. The utility's governing board will consider a proposal by the city of Tampa to redirect highly trea...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/15/18