The long running controversy over what contacts Donald Trump and members of his campaign staff had with Russian government officials and the nature of those discussions have been going on for some time, with Trump vigorously denying any wrongdoing, though since he is a pathological liar, his assurances do not count for anything. Jon Schwarz says that Trump can easily settle this issue once and for all if he wanted to.
In the maelstrom of anonymous accusations that Donald Trump’s associates were in touch with Russian officials during the 2016 election, one simple point has gotten lost:
As president, Trump has the power to declassify anything — which means he could order all the government’s intelligence agencies to make public whatever intercepts and other records exist involving Russia and people in his orbit.
Moreover, if any contacts between Trump’s people and Russia were innocuous — if the whole thing is “a ruse” or “complete garbage” as Trump himself and his chief of staff have called it — Trump has every incentive to prove that as quickly as possible.
So will Trump use his declassification power?
The administration should be asked this question until they answer it fully. I’m going to try to make that happen.
I personally find it completely plausible that there’s an innocent explanation to whatever contacts there were. I also find it completely plausible that there isn’t. But one thing I’m sure of: The current war of unverifiable leaks from anonymous officials on one side, and unverifiable claims by the Trump administration on the other, is poisonous. We have the right to see the evidence for ourselves, and Trump has the power to show it to us. [Emphasis mine-MS]
I’ve started by asking the White House press office myself. So far they have not responded, but I’ll keep trying and I’ll make a list of my attempts public. You can see the current list at the end of this article.
However, it’s far more likely that Trump or members of his administration will respond to this question from television reporters or those from outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. So I’m going to lobby the most likely journalist candidates to ask it. I don’t care whether I get the answer, just that someone does.
Schwarz provides a list of his unsuccessful attempts so far. It is clear that Trump should be asked this question directly at some point and only the major news outlets are likely to be in a postion to do so.
This is the way that good journalism works, by identifying key questions and relentlessly pursuing them individually and collectively, rather than be distracted by all the squirrels that Trump keeps releasing. This is why The Intercept, along with ProPublica, are rapidly becoming the best news sources for important, substantive stories and should be read by anyone interested in real news.