It never stops, does it. Last week yet another whistleblower filed a complaint with yet another Inspector General accusing the Trump White House and Trump-appointed agency officials of yet another abuse of authority by censoring yet another report outlining ongoing attempts to interfere with the 2020 election by Russian intelligence agencies.
This time it was Brian Murphy, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Before he went to work for DHS he was a Marine and an FBI agent. Not what you’d call a ‘liberal’. He was ordered “to cease any dissemination of an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation efforts…because it ‘made the President look bad’.” Murphy objected (because Russia was running a disinfo campaign) and complained to his superiors. He was subsequently demoted.
There are very few core principles in the Trump administration, but included in them are the need to protect Putin and to deny Russian ratfucking of the 2016 election and the upcoming 2020 election. You have to wonder why that’s so important.
In May of 2018 I suggested that Trump’s insistence that the FBI ‘infiltrated’ his 2016 president campaign in an effort to ‘spy’ on it and entrap his campaign staff into breaking the law was a matter of ignorance rather than complicity. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I thought perhaps he simply didn’t understand that the FBI, by opening a counter-intelligence investigation into his campaign, was trying to protect him from some of his campaign staff who were in wildly inappropriate contact with Russian intelligence agents and/or Russian criminal elements. If the FBI hadn’t attempted to find out what the Russians were up to, they’d have been derelict in their duties.
What the FBI discovered was a series of attempts by Russian intelligence operatives to penetrate Trump’s campaign. Sadly, those attempts were actually welcomed by some campaign members. Not only were they eager to accept material that had clearly been stolen from Democrats by Russian intel agencies, they never considered reporting it to the FBI. Worse, when confronted by the evidence, those staffers lied about it. Lied repeatedly, and actively hampered the investigation. That’s a clear demonstration of guilt.
By July of 2018, after the weird and horrifying Helsinki summit, I was far more willing to believe that Trump’s currying to Russia wasn’t just a matter of ignorance. I began to accept the probability that Putin had something on Trump himself — some sort of kompromat. I figured it was likely something to do with money laundering and/or criminal conspiracy rather than something personally embarrassing (like the alleged ‘pee tape’). In any event, it looked less like stupidity from inexperience and more like cooperation and complicity with Russian influence agents. I couldn’t think of any other probable explanation for his behavior at Helsinki.
By January of 2019, I was ready to accept that Trump was, in fact, a Russian intelligence asset. Not a ‘spy’; Trump lacks the emotional stability and the skill set required to be a spy. But he has a personality that makes him exceptionally vulnerable to Russian exploitation as an asset: he’s emotionally needy, he’s driven by greed and ego, he’s at least immoral if not amoral, he’s both shameless and easily insulted, he has no real sense of loyalty or patriotism, he has no qualms about cheating and assumes everybody cheats, and he’s willing and able to lie about anything. Trump is easy to manipulate.
The sad fact is, willing or not, since he took office Trump has furthered Russian interests and increased their international presence, and at the same time damaged US interests and surrendered US leadership on the world stage. He’s created a wedge between the US and NATO — to Russia’s benefit. He’s given Syria a free hand to commit war crimes — to Russia’s benefit. He’s withdrawn US influence in Iraq by abandoning the Kurds, allowing Russian troops to assume control of military bases and stations built by the US military. He’s essentially legitimized Russia’s illegal seizure of Crimea. He’s fought against and/or failed to impose sanctions against Russia despite bipartisan support in Congress. He’s refused to acknowledge, let alone act on, reports that Russia has paid the Taliban bounties to kill US troops serving in Afghanistan.
Domestically, he’s been willing to disregard the collective opinions of the US Intelligence Community on issues like Russian interference in the US election, and accepted Putin’s claim that Russia wasn’t involved. He’s not only undermined the efforts of the FBI and CIA to disrupt Russian interference, he’s appointed agency administrators who have leaned on their agencies to mute any criticism of Russia.
I’m NOT saying Trump is run by Putin or Russian intelligence agencies. They don’t need to run him. On his own, he’s brought chaos and exacerbated existing divisions in US society. Russia helped him get elected (and are trying to help him stay in office), but after that all they had to do was stand back and let Trump be Trump. It was a low-cost, low risk, high reward black op — almost certainly the most successful and cost effective black op in modern history.
The idea that the President of the United States might be — and probably is — a Russian intelligence asset should be absurd. It should be laughable. Sadly, it’s not. The evidence keeps mounting up. It’s entirely possible — and, again, this is shocking for me to say — it’s entirely possible that if Trump is re-elected, representative democracy in the US may come to a crashing halt.
Lawdy, I hate saying that. I hate that it’s actually necessary to say it.