Michael Isikoff and David Corn are among the very top reporters who have been covering the Trump Russian scandal. Corn is the reporter who initially broke the Dossier story (no, it was not Buzzfeed), and Isikoff broke the story about US intelligence looking into a Trump-Kremlin connection via Carter Page. Since this initial work, these two reporters have been, along with dozens of others, putting into the public view the famous ice-berg tip that we all know Robert Mueller has the rest of hidden away somewhere.
Last night, at midnight, they released Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, which is a compendium of all we know now. As they noted in a recent interview (see below), this is a good time to bring this all together and summarize it for the American People. The story is far ranging and complex, and we have been exposed to an asynchronous and arbitrarily ordered series of vignettes, making a comprehensive understanding of what happened difficult.
The previously released Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, served that purpose in its own way, using primarily (mostly) confirmable gossip to frame the Trump campaign, transition, and early white house, and that was quite helpful. Corn and Isikoff’s work is more of the graduate level version, digs deeper, starts earlier in the story, and of course, is more up to date.
From the publisher:
Russian Roulette is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S.-Russia relations soured, as Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the 2016 election.
The Russians were wildly successful and the great break-in of 2016 was no “third-rate burglary.” It was far more sophisticated and sinister — a brazen act of political espionage designed to interfere with American democracy. At the end of the day, Trump, the candidate who pursued business deals in Russia, won. And millions of Americans were left wondering, what the hell happened? This story of high-tech spying and multiple political feuds is told against the backdrop of Trump’s strange relationship with Putin and the curious ties between members of his inner circle — including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn — and Russia.
Russian Roulette chronicles and explores this bizarre scandal, explains the stakes, and answers one of the biggest questions in American politics: How and why did a foreign government infiltrate the country’s political process and gain influence in Washington?
I’m reading it furiously, and have a lot more to cover but I’ve seen enough to say that at this moment in time, if you are going to read one book on the Trump-Russian scandal, make it this one.
Rachel Maddow says of the book, that this helped her understand better what has been happening. Since Maddow is among the top 10 people on the plant with respect to her understanding of what has happened (probably even understanding much of this more than some of those involved!), that is saying a lot.
I will also add that a major point made by these authors is that to understand Trump and Russia, you need to go back a few years and understand what Trump, Putin, various Oligarchs, Manefort, Page, and others were doing before there was any real solid idea of a Trump for President campaign. This, dear reader, is what I’ve been saying all along. Just sayin’.
Here is an interview with the authors on the Rachel Maddow show: