Robert Reich: What Did Trump Know of the Russian Plot?

A mural depicts Donald Trump blowing marijuana smoke into the mouth of Vladimir Putin on the wall of a restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania on November 23. Sean Gallup/Getty

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The American public deserves to know the answers to at least the first five of these questions, and will then make a judgment on the sixth:

1. Why didn't President Donald Trump act sooner to fire National Security Adviser Michael Flynn ?

He knew about Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, at least since January, when the acting attorney general at the time, Sally Yates, notified the White House that Flynn had "put himself in a compromising position" with his phone call to the Russian ambassador.

Related: Robert Reich: Trump's Treacherous Ties to Russia

2. What, if anything, did Trump authorize Flynn to tell the Russians before the inauguration ?

3. What other contacts did Flynn and other Trump aides have with Russia before the election?

U.S. intelligence reports show that Flynn was in touch with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign, and that communications between the two continued after November 8. The Russian ambassador has even confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election, though he declined to say what was discussed.

4. Did Flynn or other Trump aides know of or cooperate with Russia in interfering in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf?

5. If so, did Trump know about or encourage such cooperation?

These questions won't go away. The FBI and the Senate Intelligence Community are investigating. Hopefully, investigative reporters are also on the case. Eventually, the truth will come out. As Richard Nixon learned, coverups in Washington just make things worse.

Which leads inevitably to the last question:

6. If Trump knew or encouraged, will he be impeached?

Robert Reich is the chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.