Toward the end of 2016, when the many politicians and intelligence community were passing around disturbing reports about Donald Trump’s links to Russia, the possibility arose that the sanctity of the US government might be compromised in a way America had not experienced.

This was one of the things that came with the election of Trump into office. To imagine that a nation like Russia with an economy smaller than Italy’s could leverage one of the wealthiest countries in the world beggared the imagination. And yet that belief appears to be creeping closer to reality.

According to the claims made by Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Columbus Nova deposited about 500 thousand dollars into a secret account created by attorney Michael Cohen to pay off Trump’s sexual partners.

Columbus Nova is a New York investment company whose biggest client is a firm run by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Viktor Vekselberg

Viktor Vekselberg

When questioned about the hefty sum paid to Cohen, Columbus Nova said it was a “consulting fee”.

Like all Russian oligarchs, Vekselberg operates with the Putin government. The payments gave Russia a number of possible leverage over Trump and Cohen. Firstly, the money itself could amount to some kind of bribe, for which a favor would be expected in return. Secondly, Russia was aware of the secret payoff, which it could expose anytime.

Responding to this crisis, the US House of Representatives has assigned Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, to defend Trump against the Mueller investigation.

President Trump

President Trump

The Department of Justice has a policy of keeping Congress out of active investigations, for the reason that elected officials can interfere. Nunes has demanded unlimited right to get inside the Mueller investigation. Officials in the Department of Justice suspect his goal is to compromise the probe by giving out information from the prosecutors over to Trump.

Reports claim that Last week, Nunes demanded a piece of information that intelligence officials including the FBI believe would “endanger a top-secret intelligence source.” They appealed to Mr. Trump to support their request to withhold the information which, could “risk severe consequences including potential loss of human lives.”

Devin Nunes

Devin Nunes

Nunes is threatening to move quickly on a vote to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress if the Department of Justice doesn't hand over the information. Several administration officials fear that Trump may reverse course and support Nunes’s argument.

Think for a moment what this whole situation tells us. Nunes is willing to risk the potential loss of life in order to obstruct a probe into the president’s secretive ties to a foreign power.

This appears as though President Trump is compromised by Russia, or at the very least, cannot be trusted to defend his own country’s security against it.