The ongoing congressional and FBI investigations of possible coordination between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election threaten, at a minimum, to undermine Trump's policy priorities. If even some of the accusations prove true, they will produce the biggest White House scandal since the Iran-Contra affair in 1985–87 in an inexperienced administration already beset by infighting.

Suspicions about Russia’s connections with US President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration escalated on 20 March during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the Russian ‘active-measures’ operation to impact the 2016 presidential campaign. FBI Director James Comey disclosed that the FBI was not only ‘investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election’ but also ‘the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts’. Leaks have now revealed that at least one campaign associate, Carter Page, was the subject of FBI surveillance under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) warrant, which meant that the FBI had presented the court with probable cause that Page was acting as a foreign agent.

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US Indian Ocean strategy

The US is likely to use the region as a staging area for counter-terrorism efforts in and around the Persian Gulf, and as a secondary theatre in the country's deepening strategic competition with China.

US Afghanistan policy: regional aspects

Donald Trump's new 'Afghanistan and South Asia' policy identifies Pakistan and India as key players but ignores or minimises other influential regional actors with vested interests in Afghanistan.