22:22 GMT01 March 2021
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    On Wednesday, Politico reported that US President Joe Biden now has access to all of Donald Trump's past phone conversations with world leaders, particularly those with Vladimir Putin.

    Sputnik has spoke to Professor Joe Siracusa, US politics expert from Curtin University in Australia, to get a closer look at the situation surrounding Trump's past phone conversations, which have now reportedly been handed over to President Joe Biden.

    Sputnik: How significant do you think the timing is here?

    Professor Joe Siracusa: The Biden administration is surrounded by people who worked either for Hillary Clinton or they worked for Barack Obama. They may have actually worked for Biden when he was the vice president. They have a very difficult relationship with Russia. Remember when Hillary Clinton was going to reset relations with Russia a couple of years ago? And then she got involved in Ukrainian politics and then Russian politics, et cetera. They're hypersensitive to what the president says.

    As a presidential scholar, I've written dozens of books about what presidents have said to foreign leaders behind closed doors. It takes about 20 to 30 years for scholars to get access to this material, and they have to wait for everybody to pass away or to get the security clearance on it. And so what they're probably on here is a fishing expedition. They're looking for reasons to tell the public that Trump can't be trusted with sensitive information. The other day, President Biden said that Trump won't be given any intelligence information. And later in the day, he walked it back and said unless he asks for it. And so, they'd be very interested in what President Trump had to say to President Putin on the phone, et cetera. President Trump didn't much trust his diplomats; he didn't really trust his Department of State. He was a proponent of personal, or summit diplomacy. He liked to talk directly to leaders.

    I always like to say that no matter what criticism Trump has had, he always had the world's important leaders on speed dial, so he could talk to them directly. And that's just the way he liked it. I can imagine that the Democrats are up to no good here. They're looking for some reason to tell the public that Trump will not be allowed any intelligence briefings now that he's left the White House. It's not really a good sign and it's not a good sign that the story was leaked to Politico, which has close relations with the Democratic Party. It's in a sense another attempt to downgrade Trump's relationship with Washington and the establishment.

    Sputnik: Do you expect any sensitive revelations considering the results of the Mueller probe?

    Professor Joe Siracusa: I think Trump had a very good relationship with the Russian president. I mean, they understood each other. I like to say that because Russia and the United States possess 90 percent of the world's strategic nuclear weapons, that their security relationship, their relationship is one of the most important in the world. People today say that the most important relationship with the United States is China. Well, China has 280 nuclear weapons. I don't worry about them so much. I mean, I thought it was a very good thing that Trump had good relations with Putin, particularly as the Democrats did not. And Biden will work through his Department of State. There's a lot of acrimony.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region.
    © AP Photo / James Vazquez
    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region.

    A number of the people who had bad relations with Russia are back in place in the national security establishment and in the State Department. This does not bode well. And of course, President Biden is going to make a big deal about Navalny being sentenced to prison again, whereas President Trump wouldn't have been bothered by that. For him, security was more important than human rights.  

    Sputnik: In the event of any revelations, what might be the impact on the current impeachment process?

    Professor Joe Siracusa: President Trump's political clout will survive, he's got a political career in front of him. He's going to be running the Republican Party, particularly if he's able to control the pre-selection process, or the primaries. I think Trump's going to be an important player as long as his health stays good. And if he's not an important player, he will anoint the people who will be important players. So, Trump is an important figure. There's zero chance that Trump is going to be convicted by the Senate. Today, we found out that a former president can indeed be impeached. There was a vote of 56 to 44. But 11 or 12 people are going to have to jump ship to convict the president. And, of course, the next step is to exclude him from future office. None of that is going to happen. It was a tactical victory today for the Democratic Party. But overall, because you have 44 Republican senators who said they didn't think the process was valid, the president is assured of getting off the hook.

    U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while campaigning for Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler on the eve of the run-off election to decide both of Georgia's Senate seats, in Dalton, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
    © REUTERS / Brian Snyder
    U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while campaigning for Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler on the eve of the run-off election to decide both of Georgia's Senate seats, in Dalton, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

    Sputnik: How viable are Trump's chances to continue his political career?

    Professor Joe Siracusa: I think they're pretty good, if he stays in good health. I don't know how he's been able to do that so well, he doesn't do any sports or anything. But if he stays in good health, he will run again in 2024 and he will beat Kamala Harris or anybody else. It's quite clear that Joe Biden will not be running in 2024. By that time, he will be 82, 83 years old. It's just probably too much for him.

    Trump's in a terrific position. He's developing a streaming service right now, or he's going to hook up with some kind of national network, but he's going to be able to get to his followers again. And keep in mind, the man got 74 million votes in the last election, he has 88 million followers on Twitter, and he probably even has more people supporting him than that, probably 100 million. Now, in today's proceedings, the public is about 47 percent to 45 percent on whether he should be convicted. In the Republican Party, 87 percent of those polled say the president should not be convicted. He's far and away the leader of the Republican Party. And so they're going to have to deal with him, I think, for years to come.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    Intelligence, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, US
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