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Trail Mix: Russia finds a friend in Trump; Comey's controversial decisions

click to enlarge Does the Putin/Trump relationship go beyond a mutual love of blini?
  • Does the Putin/Trump relationship go beyond a mutual love of blini?

REDS, WHITE AND BLUE

The bromance between Republican presidential nominee DONALD TRUMP and often-shirtless Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained a curious subplot of this election. Even before allegedly Russian hackers dumped thousands of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman onto WikiLeaks, Trump has gone out of his way to praise Putin's leadership, even when challenged directly on it. Trump's team pushed to change the Republican National Committee's policy on Russia's Ukrainian invasion to a more Putin-friendly one. Then his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned after reports emerged of his ties to secret off-the-books payments from Ukraine's pro-Russian former president.

In the dying days of the 2016 campaign, media outlets have sought even juicier stories linking Trump and Russia. Slate passed along speculation that a Trump computer server had been secretly communicating with a Russian bank, while Mother Jones claimed that a former intelligence officer had provided the FBI with information that Russia was treating Trump as a possible foreign intelligence asset.

Other publications quickly poured cold water on these stories, highlighting the litany of technical flaws in the Slate piece and reporting that the FBI's scrutiny of direct links between Russia and Trump has turned up nothing thus far.

But that's left the question hanging: Exactly why does Trump love Russia so much? Other than the blini, of course. (DANIEL WALTERS)

BAD TIMING

Throughout this presidential election cycle, FBI Director JAMES COMEY has emerged as a central figure.

In July, Comey recommended that no criminal charges be filed against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information, but called her "extremely careless" in using a private email address and server. Donald Trump denounced Comey as part of the problem, consistent with Trump's belief that the election has been rigged for Clinton.

But 11 days before Election Day, Comey announced that the FBI would review new evidence related to Clinton's emails. Now, it's Clinton questioning the motives behind the timing of Comey's announcement.

And now it's Trump praising Comey.

"It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution," Trump said.

The FBI reportedly found the emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin weeks ago while investigating an unrelated case involving Abedin's estranged husband, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner. (WILSON CRISCIONE)

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