It has been suggested that President Elect Trump has been compromised by Vladimir Putin and/or the Russian Intelligence agency. This allegation suggests that Putin and/or the FSB have information, including video of unsavory sexual activities of some sort (loosely defined) and documentation of inappropriate business activities, that could be used to blackmail the future United States President. Since this is something I have been saying for weeks that we would eventually learn, I’m compelled to make a few comments.
What did we sort of know and when did we sort of know it?
In the weeks after the US presidential election, I learned something that a lot of people inside the beltway had known for months. This was third hand plus. Like, ‘a friend of a friend of a friend says this is widely known.’
There are three parts.
First, a commonly known fact was confirmed for me: major intelligence agencies will spend effort trying to compromise highly influential individuals such as real estate tycoons. This is apparently potentially useful for future manipulation of things.
Most such potential targets are intelligent and have a reasonable sense of risk and humility, to the extent that they know they can be compromised and they bother to seek and follow expert advice covering all their security needs. Also, I assume just because it is generally true of humans, that these highly successful and potentially influential people have at least a modicum of self control over what they do and what they say.
The second part is the simple logical idea that since highly influential individuals are likely to be approached or some attempt made to turn or compromise them, that Donald Trump would have been such a target, and that such an effort would likely have worked.
Since none of the aforementioned self protective attributes seem to pertain to Donald Trump, it stands to reason and is apparently fully expected that he would have long ago been compromised by major intelligence agencies. Since Trump has significant business dealings with Russia and has made the trip to Moscow several times, it is reasonable to assume there is a high probability that Putin had long ago compromised trump. Sexual honey pots, attractive but illegal business dealings, challenges to bravado or ego, etc. could all have been used to obtain film of Trump doing what might be widely regarded as inappropriate sexual things, or documentation of engagement in shady financial dealings, and so on.
So part of this was the basic assumption that someone like Trump would be pretty likely to be in Putin’s pocket.
The third part, which goes beyond assumption and speculation, is the belief among intelligence experts that this sort of thing had in fact occurred. Not just that it was highly likely, but that it was actually true.
Again, that is third hand, and it is third hand rumor. In other words, the third generation out from me is not a person who knows this stuff, but a person who is probably in a position to know what is generally known.
I was hoping at the time that individuals in the intelligence community who knew about this would somehow make it generally known, before the Electoral College voted, so there would be some chance of the Russians not placing a compromised agent at the head of the United State government. Indeed, I was hoping for a particular individual to step forward (see below). But that never happened, and the Electors elected a person many inside the beltway suspected to be a Russian puppet as President.
I once knew an evil librarian, story-book evil, surreally evil. Example: one day an employee asked for one day off a week to receive chemotherapy. The evil librarian grudgingly allowed it. Several weeks later the employee’s cancer got worse, and she needed two days a week for a month or so, to get extra chemotherapy. The evil librarian fired her on the spot, in front of the other employees and library patrons, and did so with a lot of screaming and yelling. That sort of thing happened all the time and she kept her job anyway.
Then, one day, the evil librarian made a reference to a particular woman and used the word “bitch” in so doing. Someone who heard her say that reported it to the woman’s husband. That man happened to be the director of the learned institution of which this library was a part. Within minutes Evil Librarian, who had been in her job for well over 20 years, being all evil and stuff the entire time, was fired.
The straw. For want of a straw, the evil librarian was left alone to make many lives miserable without mitigation or abatement. Then the straw, then the termination.
What makes me recall that event? The intelligence community failing to act in accordance with their oath of office. Until the straw.
When Trump was selected by the electors, the intelligence community, or large parts of it, probably knew all about what is in the recently released (and as yet unconfirmed) report indicating that Donald Trump has been compromised by the Russians, and by Putin in particular. But they stood by and did nothing. I now assume that they did nothing because their individual jobs were more important to them than, you know, civilization. Or their oath.
But then, Trump, who had been acting disrespectfully towards the intelligence community all along, started to make noises about making changes in, downgrading, or otherwise damaging the intelligence community. When I saw him doing that, I predicted that the “widely known” but unspoken of potential control Vladimir Putin would have, though blackmail, over the next United States President, would become rather suddenly known, if in fact those rumors had substance. I saw Trump’s threats to the intelligence community as a straw alighting on the back of a Russian camel. As it were.
This will all be confirmed, denied, elaborated, clarified, in coming months. At this moment I choose to assume this is mostly true, and that there is likely more. There is a certain strength of argument when something is fully expected for logical reasons, and with a modicum of confirming evidence available in advance, and then the thing actually happens. Of course, there is also conformation bias, where the expected, when it happens, is given more credence than it deserves. But expecting something to happen, then having it happen, is NOT inherently a case of false belief based on confirmation bias. That is why it is called confirmation bias and not confirmation now we know it can’t be true because it happened. Putting this a somewhat different way, I was pretty sure, based on earlier conversations and logical thinking, that Trump would have been, by now, compromised by Putin and/or the FSG, possibly others. I’m still pretty sure. But now, there are as yet unconfirmed details to potentially fill in some of the blanks.
###Trump and Obama may provide confirming evidence
Until a few days ago, Trump was tweeting as per usual, which for him means, obnoxious and inappropriate missives about things the President Elect should not be concerned with. Then, suddenly, he stopped tweeting and his twitter feed became more corporate and informational, more third person, as though his smart phone had been taken away from him, with the campaign taking over the feed. This has happened before.
The confirmation hearings had just started up, and this produced mounds of Trump Twitter fodder. There was a press conference coming up. And, the story we are talking about here was breaking. So, of course, Trump’s local handlers (and maybe his Russian handlers?) made an effort to separate him from his Twitter.
Then, he got it back.
I always wonder what that looks like. Does Trump have a stash of smart phones hidden around the house? Does he pay, or threaten, a household servant to get him a phone? Does he have a tantrum and hold his breath until Melania gives in? But I digress…
Anyway, he got his Twitter access back and started tweeting denials of the story, and this time, he was screaming in ALL CAPS. Also, he let something slipped. He asked how intelligence services could leak fake news. Leak? Fake news? Leak? This makes it sound like he knew it was a leak. Made up fake news would not be a leak. He also invoked Hitler. So, there you go.
Methinks he doth tweet too much.
President Obama essentially but subtly confirmed the story. This story is thought to have been part of the secret part of earlier intelligence briefings. So, this story is either fake made up news, or part of the inside story that would be known to the President (and Trump). If it was fake made up news, and the press asked President Obama about it, he would say “I never heard anything about that, probably fake made up news, watch out for that, there is too much of that going on, cut it out.” But, if it was part of the inside story, but top secret, there is only one thing he could say. “I don’t comment on top secret stuff” or words to that effect.
So, what did President Obama say about the intelligence indicating that Donald Trump paid Russian women to urinate on the bed President Obama and his wife used in the presidential suit in a famous hotel?
In an interview with NBC News before his farewell address Tuesday night in Chicago, President Barack Obama said he had not seen the news accounts of Trump’s Russian ties but noted that “as a matter of principle and national security, I don’t comment on classified information.”
He had not seen the news accounts (and thus has no first hand, comment-able, response) but he does not comment on classified information. So, there you go.
This from NBC regarding the contents of Trump’s intelligence briefing. I think this conflicts with what Trump said during this press conference, in which I think he said he knew about this “false news” from that briefing.
MOSCOW — President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week’s intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.
A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said.
Two U.S. officials told NBC News that materials prepared for Trump during last week’s intelligence briefing included damaging allegations — unverified by American intelligence agencies — about his dealings with the Russians.
A special word about Mad Dog Mattis
United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was selected by Trump to be his Secretary of Defense. When I heard that, I thought there was hope that any widely known but still underground intelligence about Trump being a compromised puppet of Putin would have to come out. After all, if I more or less knew that Trump was compromised by the FSB (or by some other entity but ultimately, by Putin), then Mad Dog Mattis certainly knew it.
Unlike me, Mad Dog has on several occasions taken the oath. He would have put his hand on the Bible and uttered the words “I, James Mattis, do solemnly sear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” And, he knew that he would be taking the oath again if sworn in to be Secretary of Defense.
I assumed that someone, especially someone like General Mattis, would come forward with this intelligence and put a stop to the takeover of the United States government by a foreign power.
But no one did, not even the General.
In his remarks at a news conference that happened as I was writing this post, Trump thanks the news organizations that did NOT report the allegations, and suggests that those specific agencies have now “gone up a notch.” He also suggested that intelligence agencies now have a “blot” on their records.
Trump calls his opponents who released the intelligence reports, which he fully denies, “sick people.”
He admits that Russia did the hacking.
He restates the false claim that the DNC did not have defense against hacking but the RNC did, and that the Russians were unable to break into the RNC.
Trump notes that if Putin likes Donald Trump, that’s an asset. OK, then.
Trump continues to refer to the election and deride Hillary Clinton.
Trump claims that he tells people all the time to be careful of hidden cameras in foreign hotel rooms. That he actually told everyone this all the time should be confirmable.
Trump claims that he has very low debt and zero loans with Russia.
(Note: All the questions are about Russia, Hacking, etc. Trump has no control over the message.)
Trump says he was offered 2 billion dollars to do a number of deals in Dubai. He turned down the deal, though he says he didn’t have to turn it down because he is President. He claims he could run his business and run government at the same time, this would be legal. Also, he claims he would be able to do it and would be good at it.
Reporters claims that nobody but the press cares about his tax returns. This got applause. I suspect not from the reporters. So, apparently, Trump has an audience of sycophants in the room. That feels wrong.
Trump shows a pile of papers indicating that he passed business interests off to his sons. Then, he walked off stage and did not take any more questions. (He returned later to answer questions.)
The post-Trump spokesperson claims that emoluments do not include, for example, foreign visitors paying high prices at Trump hotels. That’s going to leave a mark.
Trump is claiming that profits from foreign business will be donated to the US Treasury.
Other notes on the news conference:
<li>Trump, who is probably anti-vax, spoke out against "pharma." </li>
<li>Oddly, this press conference has applause following some of the remarks. That seems unusual. </li>
<li>Trump indicates that certain states, but not all states, would benefit from his jobs programs, and the veterans in those states would be taken care of.</li>
<li>Trump states that he has lots of news conferences. This is is first news conference in six months. </li>
Those jobs Trump just took credit for? He had nothing to do with them https://t.co/SOLCJpWBqq
— Steve Benen (@stevebenen) January 11, 2017