By David K. Shipler
Donald Trump certainly acted like a guilty man when it came to accusations that he and his campaign had cooperated with Russia in promoting his candidacy. If a playwright had created such a character, he would have been considered too obvious.
This is the fourth key question in assessing Russia’s actions during the 2016 campaign. The first three—whether the Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails, whether the Russians impersonated Americans online to exacerbate fissures in the society, and whether those activities helped elect Trump—were examined in Part One. Now we look at numbers 4 through 6.
4. Based on Trump’s display of anxiety about the Russia investigation, his attempts to stop it, his aides’ interactions with Russians, and the lies some told to Congress and FBI agents, the assumption of a cover-up seemed reasonable. Trump and some of his people acted as if they were hiding something illicit or illegal.
Furthermore, the Mueller report said, dozens of Russian tweets and posts were cited or retweeted by campaign officials, including Donald J. Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and Michael T. Flynn. But there is no evidence that they knew of the Russian origins. And the investigation didn’t find cooperation or coordination or conspiracy. Rather, the evidence it lays out portrays a haphazard array of contacts among Americans and Russians in erratic pursuit of two apparent goals: profitable business opportunities and improved superpower relations.