Last Friday, Trump received an intelligence briefing in regards to the Russian hacking of the DNC and possibly the RNC by top people in the intelligence community, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. All experts in their field and highly regarded. Prior to the briefing, Trump had consistently and vociferously denigrated the idea that Russia was responsible for the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee, even saying that he would believe Julian Assange over the U.S. intelligence community. After the meeting, he issued the following statement:
“I had a constructive meeting and conversation with the leaders of the Intelligence Community this afternoon. I have tremendous respect for the work and service done by the men and women of this community to our great nation.
While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.
Whether it is our government, organizations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks. I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office. The methods, tools and tactics we use to keep America safe should not be a public discussion that will benefit those who seek to do us harm. Two weeks from today I will take the oath of office and America’s safety and security will be my number one priority.”
In part, the report summarized, “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
Yesterday (Tuesday), four days later, The Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, and CNN all report that a two-page appendix was included with the main report. The information contained in the two pages is reported to contain compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump. The material has not yet been corroborated, but intelligence agencies evaluated the sources, considered them credible, and determined that it was plausible that they would have first-hand knowledge of Russia’s alleged dossier on Trump. Thus they decided President Obama, Trump and congressional leaders needed to be told about it and informed that the agencies were actively investigating it.
I will not even speculate about the information itself, other than to say that I cannot imagine anything much worse than what we already know of the man. Lying, cheating, sexual abuse, illegal activities … what else is left??? Nonetheless, we need to focus more on what the purpose, if the information is verified, is on the part of the Russian government. Trump won the election as Putin had, apparently, hoped, and will be inaugurated in just nine days. What is left? What is left is, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. What is left is relations between Russia and the U.S. after January 20th. What is left is cooperation between nations. Perhaps Putin felt that Trump, with neither political nor foreign policy experience, would be more malleable than Hillary Clinton and more willing to side with Russia in its relations with Turkey, Syria, and Western Europe. I cannot know Putin’s motives, but if it is proven that he ordered the hacking of the RNC as well as the DNC, and if it is proven that he does, in fact, have compromising information on Donald Trump, it certainly opens doors for infinite speculation.
Also included in the two pages are allegations of ongoing contact between members of Trump’s inner circle and representatives of Moscow. To some extent, this is already public knowledge. For example, Trump’s choice for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, attended a dinner at the Metropol Hotel in honor of the 10th anniversary of RT, a Russian news agency that has been publicly identified by American intelligence as a primary outlet for Moscow’s disinformation campaigns. Flynn, who was two seats away from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner, has frequently appeared on RT, despite public warnings by American intelligence that the news agency is used for Russian propaganda.
Trump, of course, denies the report. He let his fingers speak for him on Twitter last night, tweeting, “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” Sigh. This man and his irrational, rude, crude tweets is exhausting me. Just once … just once, I would like to see him speak or tweet and make a bit of sense, use proper English, and say something that shows a small bit of intellect. If this man stays in office more than a year, I will be ready for a padded room. At any rate, the reason for his denial is obvious. The narcissist has convinced himself that he won the election without help, because he is great and wonderful, and if it can be proven that he had massive amounts of help, without which he would now be preparing to oversee his casinos rather than a nation, his ego couldn’t handle it.
Just to be clear, what I have written here is speculation based on information that the U.S. intelligence agencies have NOT yet confirmed. I am merely saying that there is some logic to the assumption, and I do not believe that the FBI would have included this information if they did not believe in the credibility of their sources. I think there is enough smoke to believe there is a fire somewhere. But, before we can draw further conclusions, we must have facts (you know, those silly, cumbersome little details that are not supposed to matter in this post-truth world?). I think that either way, Trump needs to remember that Russia is not our ally, but that Western European nations are. His praise of Putin in recent months is concerning, whether or not the Russian government now has the means to blackmail him. Our European allies have been understandably nervous ever since Trump’s electoral win in November, but tensions are even higher in light of these latest developments. 17 current and former officials from a range of Central and Eastern European countries wrote in a letter to Trump that reads, in part:
“Putin does not seek American greatness. As your allies, we do. As your treaty-bound allies, we appeal to Americans in the new U.S. Administration and Congress to stand firm in the defense of our common goals and interests: peace, Atlantic strength, and freedom.”
The letter was signed by one sitting European leader, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, and several former heads of government and foreign ministers, including former Romanian president Traian Băsescu, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, and former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister Carl Bildt.
While not jumping to conclusions, it would serve us well to remember that Trump’s campaign has been shrouded in controversy and that his ability to be discreet and keep his mouth shut and fingers off Twitter seems nil. If, in fact, the allegations are proven, it makes Trump the most compromised president in modern U.S. history. What does that mean for his presidency? Stay tuned, folks ….