Thoughtful, intelligent examination of Trump / Russia ties from lawfareblog, which is associated with Brookings Institute. Yes, this is a rabbit hole. However it is incontrovertible that DNC was hacked by agents working for the Kremlin. The question is, where does the rabbit hole go and who is in it?
They detail seven scenarios about what Trump knew, ranging from nothing to traitorous.. My view is 3, 5, 6 are probable.
3. The operation was primarily about hurting Hillary.
5. Trump knew about Russian involvement.
6. Trump is probably being blackmailed by Russia.
I do not believe 7., that Trump is a Russian agent.
#3: The Russian Operation Wasn’t Really About Trump at All
Perhaps the true explanation of the Trump-Russia connection is that the Russian operation wasn’t really about Trump at all—but was really about Hillary Clinton.
#5: Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known
Remember that Trump was actively praising Putin on the campaign trail, publicly denying Russian involvement in the hacking (except when he was calling for more of it), and celebrating WikiLeaks at every turn. He has claimed to regard questions about his Russia connections as “fake news,” so it’s perfectly conceivable that he didn’t regard the Russians as the bad guys and he didn’t particularly mind if his people maintained close relationships—including major financial relationships—with them.
Not all kompromat is created equal (and some kompromat is more equal than others). We could be dealing in this scenario simply with inhibitions on Trump’s part associated with the possibility that a kompromat file may exist; call this the “soft kompromat” scenario. The soft kompromat scenario does not even require a real kompromat file, much less an explicit threat to Trump, only that Trump believes that one exists—or may exist. Alternatively, it is possible that Trump was, by one means or another, made aware of the existence of the material at some point in the (presumably distant) past in such a fashion that constitutes some kind of blackmail; call this the “hard kompromat” version.
#7: The President of the United States is a Russian Agent
We consider this scenario highly unlikely. It simply strains credulity to imagine that a president would be in service of an adversary nation. That said, it is an interpretation at least consistent with the known facts.”