Putin Briefed on Trump’s Psychological Makeup

A dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin, NBC News reports.

“Among the preliminary conclusions? The new American leader is a risk-taker but can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.”

“It is normal for any president or leader to be fully briefed before entering negotiations for the first time with a rival leader, but preparing a detailed dossier on the mind and instincts of a U.S. leader is unusual.”

Who Gave Flynn the Orders to Talk to Russia?

New Yorker: “Even before Flynn’s rapid fall, his closest military colleagues had been struggling to make sense of what had happened to the talented and grounded general they once knew… Some of Flynn’s former military colleagues, even those from whom he’s drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said.”

Said one intelligence official: “This story is bigger than Mike Flynn. Who told Mike to go do this? I think somebody said, ‘Mike, you’ve got some contacts. Let them know it’s gonna be all right.’ Mike’s a soldier. He did not go rogue.’”

House Committee Probes Russian Payment to Flynn

“In an unusual bipartisan letter, House Oversight and Government Reform committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking minority member Rep. Elijah Cummings have asked a Washington-based speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, to turn over information on how much Flynn was paid for his appearance at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT — the Russian-government funded news organization — where he sat at the same table for dinner as President Vladimir Putin,” Yahoo News reports.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports the Pentagon says it “has not discovered any evidence former national security adviser Michael Flynn received authorization to accept money for a paid Russian state TV event in 2015.”

Flynn Told FBI He Didn’t Discuss Sanctions with Russia

“Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department.”

Kremlin Tells Media to Cut Back Coverage of Trump

“The Kremlin ordered state media to cut way back on their fawning coverage of President Donald Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new U.S. administration will be less friendly than first thought,” Bloomberg reports.

“The order comes amid a growing chorus of anti-Russian sentiment in Washington, where U.S. spy and law-enforcement agencies are conducting multiple investigations to determine the full extent of contacts Trump’s advisers had with Russia during and after the 2016 election campaign.”

Who Told Flynn to Call Russia?

Daniel Benjamin: “As official Washington and the press home in on the permanent disarray in the White House, whether the disgraced Flynn broke the law and who will succeed him after his three-week tenure, the key question is getting lost in the shuffle: Who told Flynn to call Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States? Because I’m convinced Flynn didn’t do it of his own accord. Flynn is a bit player in a much larger story regarding the president’s relationship with the Kremlin, and it’s this story the press needs to focus on.”

GOP Senators Wary of Trump’s Ties to Russia

“Senate Republicans are expressing growing concerns about the relationship between the Trump administration and Russia,” The Hill reports.

“While Republicans aren’t yet willing to endorse a special investigative committee, GOP senators have indicated that could change.”

Politico: “The GOP needs the president to sign off on its agenda, so Republicans on Capitol Hill are still brushing off calls for an independent investigation into communications between Trump’s team and the Russian government, despite the drip-drip of new revelations. But Republicans readily acknowledge that the investigation chatter is quickly engulfing any legislative momentum they gained after their resounding victories last November.”

For members: What Are Trump’s Ties to Russia?

The Crime May Be Worse Than the Cover Up

David Corn: “Further revelations about contacts between the Trump camp and Russia could pose an existential threat to the Trump White House. The clear choice for him and his gang is to deny, to stonewall, to distract, to lie. Trump doesn’t explain the pre-election contacts; he complains about leaks. He casts all interest in this controversy as merely the revenge of the Clinton losers. He calls reporting on the Russia connection ‘fake news’ and slams journalists pursuing the Flynn story as ‘fake media.'”

“This is not shocking. He might not be able to survive a full accounting. The poison of the cover-up may be less deadly than the poison of the event itself. Only Trump and the people involved can know for sure. But investigations of the Russian contacts now being conducted by the FBI and the congressional intelligence committees—if they are mounted effectively and yield public results—may eventually allow us to see the full calculation. In the meantime, the public can justifiably conclude that when it comes to Trump-Russia connections during the campaign, the Trump team has been covering up for very good reasons.”

Graham Calls for Punishing Russia and Trump Aides

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Russia and any ally of President Trump working with Russia “needs to pay a price” for their involvement in trying to influence the election in Trump’s favor, Politico reports.

Said Graham: “If it is true, it is very, very disturbing to me and Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies. And any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price.”

Trump Aides Had Contacts with Russian Intelligence

“Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election,” the New York Times reports.

“American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee… The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.”

“The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation. But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.”

CNN: “High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence.”