“What does Putin have on Trump?” is a question we’ve asked for over a year now.
The full story still isn’t yet out there, but we now know that during the 2016 election, President Trump was personally involved in pursuing a Russian real estate deal, and that Trump’s aides directly contacted the Kremlin seeking assistance from Vladimir Putin.
Trump and his associates subsequently for months denied any such interactions took place, putting themselves at the mercy of Putin, who knew they were lying to the American public and had the documentation to back it up. In other words, Putin probably has plenty of blackmail material and is likely using this leverage to shape what Trump does in the White House.
To repeat: a U.S. presidential candidate during the course of the election sought to enlist a foreign government in a business deal to enrich himself, and later, a quid pro quo to defeat his opponent — then lied to the American people about it.
Here’s a recap of what we learned over the past 24 hours:
2. Trump business partner Felix Sater vowed to get Putin’s support for the deal, which he promised “will get Donald elected”;
3. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, emailed a Kremlin email address to ask Putin’s personal spokesperson for help getting the deal done;
4. Trump received multiple updates on the deal from Cohen;
5. The deal didn’t get done, but five months later, the Kremlin, through back-channels, reached out to Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to express support for Trump’s campaign;
6. Trump, his kids and son-in-law, and aides, repeatedly — and publicly — denied any attempted contacts or business dealings with the Kremlin, in the process compromising themselves — as they had to have been well-aware that Putin knew they were lying to the American public.
We still don’t know everything that Putin has on Trump, but what we do know is major. Donald Trump has been compromised since day one.