The connections between Trump associates and Russia have been widely reported by the press. One of Trump's campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked from December 2004 until February 2010 to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych win the Ukrainian presidency. Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.Members of Trump's campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election. On December 29, 2016, Flynn talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that had been imposed the same day; Flynn later resigned in the midst of controversy over whether he misled Pence. The Washington Post reported that Trump had told Kislyak and Sergei Lavrov in May 2017 he was unconcerned about Russian interference in U.S. elections.
Congress members of both parties denounced the move, including Republican allies of Trump such as Senator Lindsey Graham. They argued that the move betrayed the American-allied Kurds, and would benefit ISIS, Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime. Trump defended the move, citing the high cost of supporting the Kurds, and the lack of support from the Kurds in past U.S. wars. After the U.S. pullout, Turkey proceeded to attack Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria. On October 16, the United States House of Representatives, in a rare bipartisan vote of 354 to 60, "condemned" Trump's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria for "abandoning U.S. allies, undermining the struggle against ISIS, and spurring a humanitarian catastrophe".More Info
As president, Trump has criticized Russia about Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Venezuela, and the Skripal poisoning, but has sent mixed messages regarding Crimea. He forbade U.S. oil companies from drilling in Russia. Businesses involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have been sanctioned by the Trump administration with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on December 20, 2019. Trump said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, owned by Russia's Gazprom, could turn Germany into a "hostage of Russia".More Info
For months, Trump refused to wear a face mask at press conferences and most public events, contrary to his own administration's April 2020 guidance that Americans should wear masks in public. By June, Trump had stated that masks were a "double-edged sword", ridiculed Biden for wearing one, continually emphasized that mask-wearing was optional, and suggested that wearing a mask is a political statement against him personally. Trump first wore a face mask in public in July 2020, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In late spring and early summer, with infections and death counts continuing to rise, he adopted a strategy of shifting the blame for his administration's failure to the states.More Info
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