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Questions for Journalists to Ask Trump About the Unsubstantiated Allegations of Russian Connections

 

Wednesday’s press conference will offer President-elect Donald Trump the opportunity to address the shocking allegations concerning his presidential campaign’s possible connections to the Russian government and any leverage Russia may have over him personally. If any of the core allegations are true, it would obviously be deeply troubling for our republic. If they are false, it will be important to address and effectively discredit them — especially to reassure U.S. allies of the President-elect’s independence as he starts a new chapter in the U.S. relationship with Russia. It will be difficult of course for Mr. Trump alone to discredit the information, and the situation may ultimately call for an independent investigation with relevant individuals providing information under oath.

1. To your knowledge, did anyone associated with your campaign have an exchange of information with Russian government officials or their intermediaries before November 8, 2016?

2. Are you aware of any FBI investigation into contacts between your campaign and the Russian government? Are you fully cooperating with any investigation by law enforcement agents? If an FBI investigation is ongoing, will you allow it to continue once you take office?

3. If you released your tax returns it would provide verifiable evidence of your claims that you have no compromising financial ties to Russia. It is now a matter of national security for you to reassure the American public and U.S. allies of the falsity of these allegations. Will you now release your tax returns?

4. On Tuesday night, your adviser, Kellyanne Conway, told Seth Meyers that you were “not aware” of being briefed by intelligence officials of the allegations in the former MI6 agent’s unsubstantiated memos. Were you briefed by intelligence officials about the content of the allegations on Friday? When was the first time you heard about the claims contained in the memos, which have reportedly been circulating around Washington for several weeks?

5. Will you trust the U.S. intelligence community to provide you nonpartisan, professional intelligence when you are President?

6. The unsubstantiated memo says that your lawyer, Michael Cohen, held a secret meeting with Russian officials in Prague in August 2016. You retweeted Mr. Cohen’s statement that he has never in his life been to Prague. Can you assure the American public that Mr. Cohen never met with Russian officials during your campaign, regardless of the location where such a meeting might have taken place?

7. You tweeted that the Russian government’s spokesperson said the memo is a “total fabrication” and “utter nonsense.” The Russian spokesperson also said, “The Kremlin does not engage in collecting compromising information.” Do you believe that Russia never engages in collecting compromising information on foreign leaders? Do you generally think the American public should trust the Russian government when it says it has not engaged in unfriendly or hostile actions against the US?

8. Would you fire anyone in your organization if they had contacts with Russian government intermediaries during the campaign and had not properly informed you?

Image: Presidential candidate Donald Trump calls on a member of the media during a news conference Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 – AP Photo/Matt Rourke

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About the Authors

Deputy Managing Editor of Just Security, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, Former Senior Reporter covering the Pentagon for Foreign Policy Follow her on Twitter (@K8brannen).

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016) Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).