Wednesday 15 February 2017 4:01 am

As his national security adviser resigns over ties to Russia, is Trump’s administration malevolent or just incompetent?

Dr Joe Devanny, research fellow at the Policy Institute, King’s College London, says Incompetent.

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for less than 30 days. We can already say that competence has been in short supply, even by the historical standards of transition processes, which are rarely glitch-free.

We have just seen the fastest resignation in history of a national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Trump has signed controversial executive orders, perhaps the worst of which was an immigration ban that was more or less immediately subject to legal challenges.

But with its “America First” approach, and the reported links of some advisers to the nationalist movement – and others to Russia – should we be more worried that the administration is malign? The influence of these advisers is extremely worrying, but at this point we can still hope that the administration’s wiser and more respected heads prevail in the battle to shape President Trump’s big decisions.

Flynn’s resignation is, paradoxically, likely to make the administration more competent: his successor will probably be a safer pair of hands.

Rachel Cunliffe, deputy editor of Reaction, says Malevolent.

Michael Flynn isn’t the first Trump adviser to resign over inappropriate relations with Russia. He’s not even the second. The other two, Carter Page and Paul Manafort, are both under investigation by the FBI over allegations (which they deny) that they too committed Flynn’s offence: unofficially negotiating the easing of US sanctions.

That’s three Moscow-philes on Team Trump, plus Rex Tillerson, the recently-confirmed secretary of state who vocally lobbied for an end to the Russia sanctions in his past life as an oil tycoon.

All this, in an administration that has refused to condemn Russia for interfering in the US election, with a President who has publicly praised Vladimir Putin on multiple occasions.

We know Trump admires Putin because he has said so. He has appointed officials who advocate him cosying up to the Kremlin and who may stand to profit financially if he does. Everything points to an administration eager to make dodgy deals with Russia – to hell with the consequences for America.

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