First, let me point out that by calling Comrade Trump ‘ignorant’ I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. To call him ignorant is simply to say he’s lacking in knowledge. Everybody is ignorant about some things. Trump, who has lived by the credo that bigger is better and ostentation is impressive, is ostentatiously ignorant about a lot of things. One of which is counterintelligence.
A LOT of people are ignorant about counterintelligence; they don’t understand what it is or how it’s practiced. There’s no reason they should be familiar with it, But, sadly, Trump is POTUS; he should understand it — especially since a counterintelligence operation was put into place to protect him from Russian influence.
Let me repeat that bit, because it’s important. A counterintelligence operation was put into place to protect candidate Donald J. Trump from Russian influence. That’s the heart of this whole mess.
Back to basics: counterintelligence is the gathering of information to protect something or someone from acts of espionage. The goal of counterintelligence isn’t to find evidence of a crime; it’s to identify and monitor foreign intelligence activity, then render it ineffective.
That leads us to kompromat. What the hell is kompromat? It’s a Russian term, a portmanteau, the squishing together of two words — in this case ‘compromising’ and ‘material’. Compromising material, of course, is what’s used to blackmail somebody. But kompromat combines blackmail with what’s called ‘black public relations’. With ordinary blackmail, the blackmailer says “Do this or I’ll make the compromising material public.” Kompromat is more subtle; the compromising material is publicly teased out. Rumors are started, questions are asked, hints and suggestions are made — all of which are damaging to the person being blackmailed, but none of the damage is necessarily fatal. Kompromat is the Death of a Thousand Cuts coupled with the implication that those cuts can be stopped and the wounds healed…but only if the compromised person cooperates.
The Russian secret services didn’t invent kompromat, but they are well-known to be masters at it. They routinely try to acquire kompromat information on foreign politicians and businessmen — and Trump has been doing business with some really shady Russians since the late 1990s. He’d had a string of bankruptcies, most of which he’d been able to lawyer his way out of while his investors lost their shirts. This led to every major U.S. bank refusing to lending him money. But those shady Russians had deep pockets and were willing to open them.
Here’s the weird and dangerous thing about post-Soviet Russia: there’s no way to differentiate between oligarchs and former intelligence officers and political figures and organized crime gangsters and legitimate business people. It’s not just that these different groups cooperate with each other, it’s that they’re often not really different groups — they’re often all interconnected. These are the people who provided Trump with financing when nobody else would. He literally owes these people. That makes him vulnerable.
By the summer of 2016, the FBI were aware from at least two different sources that at least four significant members of the Trump campaign were in contact with known Russian intelligence/criminal elements. So the FBI launched a counterintelligence operation to find out what the Russians were up to. If they hadn’t done that, they’d have been derelict in their duties.
Again, the first goal of counterintelligence is to identify and monitor foreign intelligence activity. This has to be done covertly in case the activity is actually innocent. It was, after all, entirely possible that nothing suspicious was taking place between those Trump campaign members and the Russians.
What Trump, out of ignorance, doesn’t understand is that this counterintelligence work was done to protect him, protect his campaign, and protect the democratic process from Russian interference. Out of ignorance, Trump is apparently under the impression the FBI ‘infiltrated’ his campaign in an effort to ‘spy’ on it and entrap his campaign staff into breaking the law. Again, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt by saying he’s just ignorant rather than suggesting he’s actually complicit.
BUT if you look closely at how Comrade Trump has behaved toward Russia and Putin, it looks a LOT like complicity. If you look at Trump’s refusal to implement the sanctions voted by Congress, if you look at Trump’s policies toward the Ukraine, if you look at Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Russia interfered with the election, if you look at just about everything Trump has said or done about Russia — well it looks a lot like a successful Russian kompromat campaign.
Ignorance is the best case scenario.