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  • A German worker disposes of a Syrian gas canister surrendered following President Obama’s get tough policy in 2013. Assad, however, has renewed gas attacks under President Trump. (Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty News)

    Donald Trump has long been played on Syria by Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading up to the Assad regime’s latest atrocity this week. The brutal attack makes clear the nation’s national security is at risk as long as the President stonewalls on his Kremlin ties.

    Trump quickly blamed former President Obama for the tragedy, but his explanation was another transparent attempt to deflect responsibility.

    It should come as no surprise that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launch the devastating Sarin gas attack on civilians after Trump abruptly reversed a two-decade old U.S. policy calling for the dictator’s ouster.

    Trump said U.S. policy would no longer focus on regime change–the root of the nation’s civil war– but on defeating ISIS.

    Administration officials called Assad’s brutal rule a “political reality,” and said it was up to the Syrian people to decide the country’s future–a move that can only feed the civil war.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer reiterated the policy change in a news briefing. “The United States has profound priorities in Syria and Iraq, and we’ve made it clear that counter-terrorism, particularly the defeat of ISIS, is foremost among those priorities,” he said.

    By his actions, however, Trump put the U.S. position directly in line with the Kremlin’s.

    Syria has long been a Russian client state and the Kremlin’s only foothold in the Middle East. It maintains a naval base and now has an air presence there. Therefore, keeping Assad in power is Russia’s top priority.

    Assad’s dependence on Russian support is so great, it’s safe to say he does not take any action without consultation with the Kremlin.

    So, to say Assad’s decision to launch a heinous gas attack wasn’t sanctioned by Russia and influenced by Trump’s announcement defies, as the administration says, “political reality.”

    While there is no direct evidence at the moment, it may have been the catalyst that led National Security Council head Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to engineer the ouster of White House Chief Counsel Stephen Bannon from the NSC.

    Trump yesterday removed Bannon from the NSC’s “principal’s committee,” which is typically made up of cabinet-level officials. The ouster was significant because the committee formulates U.S. strategic military policy, according to The New York Times.

    The most troubling aspect of Trump’s decision wasn’t its abruptness–although that’s troubling enough-but the fact that he’s been pushing the Kremlin position on Syria for years, to the point that he was a virtual Russian agent during the Obama administration.

    In 2013, when President Obama was devising a hard-line policy on Syria premised on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Trump was a vocal proponent of a “do nothing” policy.

    Incidentally, it was the same year Trump hosted the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and declared Putin his “good friend.” It was also the year Russia allegedly videotaped Trump cavorting with prostitutes, engaging in pee play.

    While that debate was going on, Trump was conspicuous on social media urging the president to stay out of Syria.

    Trump’s position was not only contrary to Obama’s desire to prevent further use of poison gas. It was also contrary to the nation’s long-term strategic interest in containing or eliminating Russian influence in the Middle East, which poses a direct threat to Israel.

    Putin would like nothing more than to have the United States out of Syria; It would give the Kremlin a free hand to prop-up the Assad regime and destroy moderate rebel groups opposing him.

    As a private citizen, Trump certainly had the right to his own opinion, even if it undercut the administration and U.S. strategic interests in the region.

    But how much of his opinion was shaped by his own worldview and how much of it was based on a desire to support his “good friend” Putin?

    Trump’s Russia ties were of little consequence while he was a private citizen, but now that he’s the leader of the Free World, they matter greatly.

    As Assad’s latest gas attack shows, the president’s words can have significant consequences. Yet, the nation still does not know the full extent of Trump’s ties to Russia and whether they are influencing decisions he makes about national security.

    What’s more, Trump has done nothing, short of bald pronouncements, to disprove what growing evidence suggests– that his ties to Russia are potentially profound and treasonous.

    This we do know: Russia went to great lengths to influence the presidential election.

    It engineered the theft of private emails to embarrass rival Hillary Clinton and flooded the nation with fake news, much of which was repeated by the President during the campaign.

    Evidence is also clear that a number of Trump campaign operatives were in contact with Russian authorities during the campaign. At least one so far–former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn–has requested immunity from prosecution to tell what he knows.

    As FBI director James Comey made clear, Russia and its ties to the Trump campaign are the subject of civil and criminal investigations.

    But what about the President’s ties?

    It’s imperative for Trump to produce his tax returns and all financial statements detailing his business ties to banks, business partners and government entities. Only then can he clear the air about Russia.

    He could have solved this problem a long time ago, simply by being forthright. Instead, he’s putting the nation through Chinese water torture as each new piece of evidences drips out, drawing him closer to Putin’s orbit.

    Until the situation is resolved, Trump remains the biggest threat to the nation’s security.