Communications between US President Donald Trump and his inner circle, including personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, regarding the alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine into meddling in the 2020 presidential race, may have been wiretapped by foreign powers, The Washington Post reported, quoting anonymous US officials on 6 December. But out of all those who might have listened, the media outlet’s interviewees singled out Russia for reasons that are unclear in the report.
Why specifically Russia? When asked about the report, Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, noted that Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have been focused on the alleged "Russian meddling" topic for some time now and that their fixation "borders on obsessive".
"Having been disappointed by Robert Mueller's failure to find convincing evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with Russia, they feel that this Ukraine imbroglio gives them a second bite at the apple”, the analyst explained.
Wilson added that as the 2020 presidential vote approaches, the amount of reports on alleged "Russian efforts to 'hack' American democracy" will only increase. He noted, though, that unless these reports signal meddling in actual voting machines or election databases, they should be treated as "a bit over-hyped".
Addressing the claims made by The Washington Post’s sources, the analyst pointed out that POTUS had still acted, albeit unwisely, within the legal boundaries by using his personal phone. He also opined that the allegations about Russia listening in on the talks hold no water due to a lack of evidence.
"Did they discuss sensitive diplomatic or security information? Maybe. Did the Russians monitor the communications? Probably. Did they use any information gleaned for purposes injurious to the interests of the United States? Maybe. But we don't have proof of any of that", Wilson said.
Trump himself says he hasn't used personal cell phones "for years".
Ukrainegate and Impeachment Probe
After years of fruitlessly trying to find evidence of a Trump campaign conspiracy to "steal" the 2016 presidential election with Russia's help, Democrats have switched their attention to another political scandal that they utilised to start an impeachment probe against POTUS in September 2019.
House Democrats believe, based on third-hand evidence reported by an anonymous whistleblower, that Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to start a criminal probe against Joe Biden – a former vice president and frontrunner to be Trump’s election opponent in 2020. The alleged probe would have focused on Biden's alleged efforts to get his son, Hunter, out of legal trouble in Ukraine in 2016 by unduly forcing the then Ukrainian administration to stop a criminal investigation into him and the Burisma gas company, where he worked.
Trump has denied abusing his power as president and accused the Democrats of trying to affect the upcoming election by organising yet another "witch hunt" against him by using a report by a "politically biased" whistleblower, whose identity has still not been revealed.
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