Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Putin summit: Trump-Russia ties are under US investigation



Putin summit: Trump-Russia ties are under US investigation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A police officer patrols with his dog at a market in Helsinki, Finland, on Saturday. Heikki Saukkomaa/afp

Putin summit: Trump-Russia ties are under US investigation

US President Donald Trump’s summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin caps decades of efforts by the property tycoon to establish top-level relations in Moscow.

Back in Washington, however, investigators are trying to discover whether Trump, his family and advisers already had a surreptitious working relationship with Russians when he ran for and won the presidency in 2016.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, investigating Russian meddling on Trump’s behalf in 2016, has already indicted 31 people – including 12 Russia intelligence agents on Friday – for hacking Democratic computer networks.

Mueller though wants to know if a series of campaign contacts with Russian and Russia-linked persons add up to more, possibly a conspiracy. Here is what Mueller is investigating.

The Ukraine link
Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort spent years working for Moscow-supported billionaire Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort also worked with tycoon Dmitry Firtash, who has close ties to the Kremlin, and Konstantin Kilimnik, a political operative in Ukraine believed tied to Russian intelligence. Manafort was in touch with both during the campaign.

London connection
George Papadopoulos, a young foreign affairs adviser on the Trump campaign, worked Russian contacts in London with the aim of setting up a Trump trip to Moscow or a meeting with Putin.

He also told the campaign that Moscow had damaging information on Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Nothing ever came of his efforts, but they were approved by senior campaign officials.

He has pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI.

Spy contacts
Another foreign policy adviser, former investment banker Carter Page, was investigated by US counterintelligence over meetings he held over several years through 2016 with Russian officials and other contacts either part of or linked to Russian intelligence.

The Trump Tower meeting
Top campaign officials Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr met in New York on June 9, 2016 with a Russian lawyer who was offering dirt on Clinton.

Helping arrange the meeting was a tycoon close to Putin and a Trump business partner.

Veselnitskaya, however, apparently arrived empty-handed, wanting to discuss other issues.

Questions remain over what Trump himself knew about the meeting, and why members of Trump’s team tried to hide it.

Leaks of hacked documents
An indictment released on Friday of 12 Russia spies for hacking Democratic documents during the campaign makes clear Mueller is examining whether Trump staff colluded.

Trump adviser Roger Stone, Don Jr, and others were in contact with leak channels WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, which the indictment said were used by Russian spies to disseminate the documents.

The Kislyak connection
Before and after the election, the then Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak had several encounters with campaign officials, and multiple communications with Kushner and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Before the campaign, Flynn, a former Pentagon intelligence chief, had been paid tens of thousands of dollars to appear at events hosted by Russian companies, at one sitting next to Putin.

In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with Russian officials during Trump’s presidential transition.

St Petersburg troll farm
Mueller has indicted 13 people involved with the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm responsible for much of the social media manipulation that boosted Trump’s campaign.

Records show that some lower-level campaign staff had contact with the group.

Business ties
Mueller is reportedly studying Trump’s business relations with Russians. Trump for decades sought to develop real estate in Moscow. In 2013, he took his Miss Universe pageant to the Russian capital, where he sought but failed to meet Putin.

Afterwards, and reportedly well into the 2016 campaign, aides including Trump fixer Michael Cohen continued to pursue a possible major development deal in Moscow.

Meanwhile since the early 2000s, the Trump organisation made numerous property sales to wealthy Russians, raising questions of whether it was enabling money laundering.

They included Trump’s 2008 sale of a Palm Beach property to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million, $54 million more than Trump paid for it four years earlier.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10