We know Trump is compromised by Russia. The question is how much.
According to the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we already know that Trump has been "compromised" by financial ties to Russia and potentially other foreign elements.
The question is just how deep it goes.
"The president's deception about his pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow, his refusal to disclose his tax returns and his opaque finances present deeply concerning questions: What else does he have to hide and, more urgently, who else knows about it?" Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked in a USA Today op-ed about Trump.
Schiff noted that Trump's former lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, has already admitted that Trump was pursuing real estate deals in Russia even while he was running for president, and even while he denied having any business dealings with Russia.
This raises a lot of important questions. For instance, did this financial relationship influence Trump's decision to side with Vladimir Putin and attack American law enforcement for concluding that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election?
Schiff is especially alarmed that a hostile foreign government could have blackmail material on a U.S. president.
For instance, Schiff pointed out, "there have long been credible allegations that Russian money was laundered through the Trump Organization. If Russia could show that Trump, his business or his immediate family had benefited from tainted money or broken the law — or if Trump believed they could — it would mean that Russia could exert pressure on Trump to influence U.S. foreign policy."
Russia also appears to have known full well that both Cohen and Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who is now cooperating extensively with federal investigators, were lying about Trump's Russia ties. That's potential blackmail material.
But Russia isn't the only worry when it comes to Trump's conflicts of interest. The California congressman also raised the concern that Trump's tacit support for Saudi Arabia murdering a journalist may be related to his financial entanglements with that nation.
Some of those closest to Trump, including Cohen and Flynn, have been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI by revealing the inner workings of team Trump, rather than face jail time.
But Trump's Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly refused to do any serious investigation into his obvious corruption, neglecting their constitutional role of providing oversight over the executive branch.
That was a big part of why millions of Americans voted in November to sweep Democrats into control of the House.
As a result of that blue wave, Schiff will become the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, where he has been serving as the ranking member in the minority.
When the new Congress is sworn in, Schiff will be able to do what Republicans protecting Trump were unwilling to.
And Schiff made these intentions crystal clear in the conclusion to his op-ed: "The American people deserve to know that our president is acting in their interest and not his own financial self interest, or because he has been compromised by a foreign power. Now, with a new Democratic majority in the House, we should be able to find out."
Trump is now on notice that his shady dealings will be investigated and exposed.
Published with permission of The American Independent.