Even the pandemic and Kushner’s role in the connections to Russia demonstrate how much the Kremlin remains operative in WH decision-making. If nothing else, the GOP platform is attracted to one strong-man, one-party rule.
Kevin Hassett thought the US economy was an exploding Ford Pinto, and produced an econometric model early in 2020 that the effect of the pandemic would go to zero deaths. The GOP believes that you can bet on being a free-rider on all those mask-wearers, 57% of Republicans think 176,000+ deaths is acceptable.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2020
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) August 24, 2020
— The Moscow Project (@moscow_project) August 24, 2020
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) August 24, 2020
Despite a department press release announcing the delivery, several senior officials working on the Russia portfolio in the department and elsewhere in the national security apparatus were unaware exactly how the 45 ventilators had ended up on American soil. Half of the shipment was paid for by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), one of the country’s sovereign wealth funds, which is under U.S. sanctions. (The sanctions do not prohibit all transactions between U.S. entities and the firm, but they have limited the fund’s interactions with American businesses.) And the fund’s CEO, Kirill Dmitriev, had been scrutinized by Congress and former special counsel Robert Mueller for his communications with Trump transition officials shortly after Moscow had meddled in the 2016 election.
For years, the Trump administration had attempted to find ways to cooperate with Russia on the world stage but largely failed in those efforts because Moscow has continued to engage in activity that threatens U.S. national security, from hacking operations to reportedly offering bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan. A public display of Russian supplies being offloaded caught some officials in the Trump administration off guard.
Dmitriev was one of the main participants in the infamous January 2017 Seychelles meeting with former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, in which the two discussed a roadmap for U.S.-Russia cooperation in the new administration. In the years since, Kushner and Dmitriev have communicated—often at a distance, and at times through intermediaries—about ways the U.S. and Russia could work together. The conversations have touched on everything from creating a joint business council to increase investment, to working on a Middle East peace deal, to helping lead negotiations on a recent OPEC deal, to delivering those medical supplies, according to multiple senior officials.
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) August 24, 2020
Conway outlasted many of her colleagues from the campaign and the White House to become one of Trump’s longest-serving aides, proving herself to be a survivor in a workplace that has had historical levels of turnover.