For those of you who are amazed at Donald Trump’s reputed brilliance at deal-making, recent events suggest that the secret is – no secret. All you have to do is follow Trump’s increasingly apparent ability to stab friends in the back while smiling to their faces. If that hasn’t already become apparent to you, then perhaps this editorial from the New York Times is likely to convince you.
The president-elect and his transition team still have not fully answered the question:
“Mr. President-elect, can you stand here today, once and for all and say that no one connected to you or your campaign had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign?”
Cecilia Vega of ABC News asked the question at Donald Trump’s news conference on Jan. 11. He ducked it, choosing to answer a different question instead. He issued a short denial while entering an elevator later, but it left plenty of room for uncertainty.
Now there is all the more reason to want an answer. My colleagues in The Times newsroom reported yesterday that the F.B.I., along with the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department, are investigating possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials.
There is no public evidence of any such links, and no one should assume that the existence of an investigation implies a scandal. Yet there are a whole lot of mysteries, including Russia’s known attempts to help elect Trump and Trump’s strange affinity for Vladimir Putin.
The Trump team’s refusal to give a fulsome answer adds to the mystery. The statement yesterday from Hope Hicks, a Trump spokeswoman, was hardly a beacon of clarity: “We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation.”
The country needs a better answer from the man who in a few hours will be the president of the United States.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Paul Krugman, on the shocking unpreparedness of Trump’s nominees, Roger Cohen on Brexit and Lori Adelman on this weekend’s Women’s March.
David Brooks, in his column, calls today a pivotal and alarming day for the country: “For America to thrive, people across government will have to cooperate and build arrangements to quarantine and work around the president.” Times Opinion writers will be sharing their observations and provocations throughout the day.
Finally, for anyone interested in some counterprogramming today, let me suggest the wise words of Woody Guthrie.
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