Full disclosure: I have a wonderful friend in Russia. We began as pen pals over two decades ago when mail was the only way to talk to someone in Russia. I visited him in his home in 1995 and have been hopeful ever since I could reciprocate. But life events get in the way and we haven't been able to meet again. Some day ...
So I too have had contacts with Russians.
There is nothing wrong with American officials talking to Russian officials. Donald Trump did get it right (for once) when he said that it is a good thing for the American and Russian governments to have a good working relationship because we have many common interests in the world.
From the American side, we need to get over the fact that Putin ate Obama's lunch often when it came to foreign affairs. The strength of America has been that, throughout our history, we have not held grudges but acted on pragmatic impulses: find the good and move forward, not holding onto the past.
Putin has been busy rebuilding Russia's power and influence in the world in the hope of returning a great nation to superpower status.
Russia is a great nation. Russians are a great people. But they have a different history and culture from the West. As they find forceful leaders such as Ivan IV (the formidable: that is a better translation than what you normally read), Peter the Great, and Joe Stalin, and now maybe Putin, these leaders force change upon their society and the people have paid a cost for it. How heavy that cost has been is the subject of endless debate.
We need to partner with Russia on many issues. If you haven't noticed, the Cold War is over.
Therefore, our people need to talk to their people. That's not the problem.
Now let's turn to the elephant in the room, and it's hilarious that the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party but we're talking about the Democrat Party.
Who knows exactly what hacking Russian agents did and what level of government approved of such efforts? We ordinary citizens will never have access to classified intelligence. The question is who do you trust?
The question is moot. Let's say that Putin did authorize a hack of Democrat email and worked through Wikileaks to inform the world of what was found.
If it happened, it was not a hack of voting machines to falsify vote counts. It was a revelation of truth: what the Democrats were doing to ensure that Hillary Clinton would win the nomination.
No vote was changed. Well, not enough votes were changed to affect the election. The hacked email and also the fake news stories did not sway people. All it did was to reinforce existing beliefs in the population.
Trump won because he had an appeal to displaced working class people that allowed him to win states that traditionally go to the Democrats.
Campaigns having discussions with officials from other countries is not the issue we are now dealing with.
The issue we have in America is why so many new appointees feel the need to lie about the contacts they had with Russian officials.