Brooks: Trump World Has Some ‘Fishy’ Contacts With Russia, Calls for Sessions to Quit Are ‘Over the Top’

On Friday’s broadcast of “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that in the “the general Trump world, there’s contact after contact with the Russians, and some of them which are fishy.” He further argued that he thinks the controversy around Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be distinguished from those suspicious contacts, and calls for his resignation are “completely over the top.”

Brooks said, “This is like Napoleon and the Russian winter. It’s just coming in droves for the past few months, just Russian issues. Now, I would draw a distinction between Sessions and a lot of the other stuff. So far, we don’t know if Sessions had any substantive contacts on the campaign stuff or anything that might be really incriminating. And it’s worth remembering he was asked specifically did he talk to Russians about campaign stuff. And so, there are a lot of pointless meetings in Washington. And he could have just had pointless meetings with — to see the ambassador. If he’d had something nefarious, would they really have done it in the Senate office? So, I’m not sure the Sessions stuff will rise to scandal level. I think he was right to recuse himself.”

He continued, “On the other hand, on the general Trump world, there’s contact after contact with the Russians, and some of them which are fishy. And the two questions that I’m wondering about, and I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer, the first is the obvious one. Did they have contact with Russians on their campaign meddling? But the second and the more troubling one is, who’s been investing in Donald Trump’s companies for all these years? Does he owe somebody something? Should we know about that? And why didn’t he release his taxes? Is Russia at the heart of that as well? And so, until we get to an answer of — and this is why taxes get released, so you can know if somebody’s really in debt to some other foreign power. And we don’t know the answer to that because of his secrecy.”

Brooks later said of Sessions, “I think the recusal is right. The calls for resignation strike me as completely over the top.”

He concluded, “I think we do need to know, why Russia? Like, there are 200-odd countries in the world. Why has so much of this administration focused on Russia? Now, is it because Donald Trump is very sensitive to the charge that he was handed the election by Russia and he’s sort of Russia-focused? But it’s — that — the Russian obsession predates that, which is why I think, after he declared bankruptcy, a lot of Americans actually wanted to invest in Donald Trump. So who was doing all the investing? He’s got all these luxury properties around the world. Who was buying? And, so to me, it’s, why the Russia focus? Is it some ideological thing he has for Russia? Is it some man crush on Vladimir Putin? I don’t know. But, somehow, that’s the part that needs to be investigated. I don’t — I’m not — I’m generally not for special prosecutors and things, because they tend to run out of control. But getting to the core of that issue, I don’t know how you do it, but that is how you — I think we should to do it.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett