Call it self-indulgent, but I cannot resist commenting on the furor caused by the news of the Intelligence services briefing of our President-elect on the unsubstantiated report that Russia has compiled a compromising dossier of financial and personal information about him. Every news medium is talking about the report, which was shared with the President, the President-elect, the majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress, and the chairs and ranking members of the Intelligence Committees in both houses. The reporters and talking heads keep reiterating that the report is unsubstantiated, but having thus covered their asses, they cannot stop talking about it.
Is it true? Who knows? Is it plausible? Of course it is. I am sure our intelligence services have compiled a dossier of whatever compromising information they can lay their hands on about Putin.
I have three observations: First and most delicious, this is what happens when you publicly bad-mouth the intelligence services. Did Trump think they would take it lying down? Those guys play hardball, God bless them. I hope they dig up and leak every terrible thing they can find about Trump, Trump’s sons and daughters, Trump’s wife, and Trump’s dog, if he has one. I am a firm believer in the old saying, quoted by Sean Connery in The Untouchables, “never bring a knife to a gun fight.”
Second, I personally believe there is good evidence, recently reviewed by the Financial Times, that Trump is deeply in hock to the Russians, to the tune of maybe 300 million dollars personally and 1.2 billion through companies of which he owes at least 30%. I also am inclined to believe that there was communication between Trump’s campaign [by way of Paul Manafort, for example] and the Russian government, via intermediaries. Do I know this? Of course not.
Third, do I believe that Trump is actually taking direction from Putin? This is of course the most salacious tidbit of rumor and the very hardest to substantiate. But consider: Trump seems determined to speak lovingly of Putin, to praise him, to bask in Putin’s praise of him. Why Putin, of all people? Trump even went so far as to quote Putin’s denial as evidence, for God’s sake, that the Russians had not tried to influence the American election! But to me, conspiracy buff as I am becoming in the age of Trump, the “tell,” as poker players call it, is the fact that when it came time for the Republican National Committee to write the Party Platform for the 2016 election, the only clause in the entire worthless document that the Trump Campaign saw fit to weigh in on was a condemnation of Russia’s attempted takeover of Ukraine, which the Trumpians succeeded in getting weakened.
Now please, do not inundate me with knowledgeable caveats and corrections, or with breathless suggestions that the Americans do it to [surprise!]. Think of this blog post as a very cheap form of psychotherapy. It makes me feel good to write it.