Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trying to keep up with all that's happening in Washington

It's a very busy time in Washington.  An inauguration coming up in eight days.   A farewell address by the president.   Hearings on cabinet nominees, with three top ones (for AG, State and Defense) all taking positions different from some of Trump's own positions.  Revelations about Russians hacking the Democrats.   Allegations that Russians have some compromising information on Trump that could be used to blackmail him.   Republicans back-tracking on repeal of Obamacare.   Trump's plans for (non)divestiture of business, which fail to do any of the five things a group of ethic and legal experts said would be required.   And a few other things as well.

The hottest news is that the group of intelligence chiefs included, in their appendix to the classified report to the president and president-elect, a top-classified memo about allegations that the Russians have compromising information on Donald Trump that concerns both his business/financial affairs and also some personal behavior.   The report also claims that an intermediary with the Trump campaign had been in touch with the Russians throughout the campaign.

The intelligence chiefs say that they have not been able to independently verify the reports concerning Trump and the Russians but that they have investigated and believe the source to be credible.   This person was later identified as a former British government spy, who has a vast network of connections throughout Europe, and who now operates as a private investigative consultant.   The "intermediary" has been identified as Paul Manafort, who was Trump's second campaign manager who left under a cloud that involved his connections with Russia.

CNN, the New York Times and The Hill newspapers have reported this much.   Various other, less cautious publications like Politico, Daily Beast, Daily Kos and others have reported much more detail and speculations, including:  (1)  that the Trump campaign itself was involved in the hacking of the Democrats and cooperated with the Russians on it; (2)  that the Russians, with Putin's approval, had tried for five years to cultivate Trump as someone who could be useful to them;  and to that end they had sought to lure him into business deals or sexual situations that would give them the power to threaten to blackmail him.

More:   (3)  Other reporting sources of varying reliability have claimed that Trump did not succumb to the faux business deals they tried to entice him with, but that the Russians do claim to have compromising videos of him with prostitutes that could be damaging.   (4)  It's also alleged that the Trump team has been fully aware of the Russians role in hacking -- and received a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin during the campaign.  (5)  It's further alleged, but not proven, that the Trump team itself had moles within the Clinton campaign, as well as its own hackers, and that they and the Russians had a conspiracy that involved clandestine meetings and shared information.   According to this source, Trump's team kept the Russians informed about the Russian oligarchs and their families living in the U.S.

I do not know if any of these latter allegations are true.  Trump has now acknowledged that Russia did the hacking;   but, as to any of his own involvement, he angrily denies it and calls it a witchhunt to discredit him.  But the allegations do fit with some of the puzzling comments Trump has made, such as claiming that he knew more than our own intelligence agencies did about what the Russians were doing, that he had "other sources" of intelligence.  It also helps to explain Trump's attempt to discredit and diminish our own intelligence agencies.

Another allegation that makes sense is that all of this focus, during the campaign and now, on Trump's connections with Russia may have also been useful to him in distracting attention away from his even more problematic business dealings and debts in China, which have rarely been mentioned.

Here's the bottom line, at this point:   We've probably only scraped the surface thus far.   We know there is something there, perhaps a lot.   We may be about to inaugurate as president a man who has been actively helped to win that position through the help of a foreign power that would like to control the U.S. -- a man who he is either cozy with, or one who could be controlled by, that foreign power through blackmail.

In other words:   It may all be much worse than we ever dreamed.   Not just a mutual admiration between Trump and Putin, but a much darker, clandestine relationship.  And it's too late to do anything about it, because we don't know the facts for sure.   Of course, it's not too late for Trump to resign . . . and give us the nightmare of Pence's ultra-conservativism instead of the nightmare of Trump's chaos.    


No comments:

Post a Comment