President-Elect Donald Trump’s Russian Friendly Cabinet

It remains to be seen if Trumps Russian Friendly cabinet is a good or a bad thing

One thing that can’t be denied and that is President-elect Donald Trump will have the most “Russian Friendly,” cabinet in United States history. It would be foolish to speculate if that is a good or a bad thing, because not one item of business has taken place yet but the facts are Russian President Vladimir Putin, has plenty of friends in the highest positions in the U.S. government.

Going back to World War II and all through the Cold War, United States and Russian relations have been less than trusting. The irony that a Republican president would be the man with a cabinet that is “Russian Friendly,” is at the very least interesting.

We now have the United States top diplomat is of course, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, who is the nominee for Secretary of State. He has made many business deals with the Russians and has been a strong supporter of warmer ties with the Russians.

Retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser nominee, has enjoyed a very warm relationship with the Russian leaders. He can be seen sitting next to Putin a dinner a few years ago.

“These are people that Russia can do business with,” Sergei Markov, an aide to the team of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Bloomberg.

According to Markov, the appointments of Flynn and Tillerson, alongside retired General James Mattis as Defense Secretary—a man viewed as more pragmatic in Moscow, as Bloomberg reports—makes Trump’s ensemble a “fantastic team” from the Russian perspective, something only compounded by the President-elect’s own apparent close ties with the country.

How cozy has Tillerson and Flynn been with the Russian government over the past few years?

Let’s begin with the secretary of state in waiting, Tillerson a man who has been in charge at the oil giant ExxonMobil since 2006. He has cultivated very strong business ties with the Russians business and governmental communities.

He is so highly regarded in the country that just three years ago, Tillerson was given the Order of Friendship by Putin himself in 2013, an honor for foreigners in Russia.

As for general Flynn, he had headed the all-important Defense Intelligence Agency under current President Barack Obama. What drew him to President-elect Trump was his non wavering hardline views on Islam and terrorism.

But he also has very strong views of the Russian government being a potential partner with whom the U.S. can work with. He acknowledged to the Washington Post earlier this year that he’d given a paid-for speech at a party held by Russia’s state-run RT television network.

So far So far, Trump’s choices — including top jobs for a trio of veterans of Goldman Sachs, a firm he blasted at campaign rallies — haven’t reflected the populist impulses that fueled his appeal to some white working-class voters or his vow to “drain the swamp” in Washington of donors and other insiders.

Two of Goldman’s top stars Steven Mnuchin, was Trump’s pick for secretary of the Treasury, and Gary Cohn, picked to direct the National Economic Council, are high ranking members, of one of the biggest global companies in the world. As you might expect Goldman does a great many deals with the Russians and have Moscow based offices, which is perfectly legal.

Goldman has on the website that they have been doing business in Russia since 1998. But as the Trump cabinet has come together the ties to Putin and the Russian’s it has put up, no pun intended “red flags all over the place.”

“I call it the three ‘G’ Cabinet: Goldman, generals and gazillionaires,” Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said mockingly Sunday on ABC’s This Week, a reference to multiple Trump appointees who have worked at the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs.

The key to the success of the Trump presidency and to how his cabinet serves him is how they are able to use their business ties in a diplomatic way. There have been businessmen and women who have served the U.S. government in the cabinet before.

The difference is most of them have not had the level of comfort with high ranking Russian officials and business leaders. In the end it is how those relationships are used that will make this either a win or a loss for President Trump.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.