America just got it’s ass handed to us on a silver platter and we haven’t even realized it yet. The game ended before we even realized that we were playing.
This week we had the “big reveal” of a 35-page intelligence report alleging that Russia had compromising materials on Trump, among other things. Nothing in the report has been verified at this time. Though there has been at least one other account which claims to corroborate at least parts of it.
It just doesn’t matter!
People latched onto the part of the report which said that there was a video of Trump receiving golden showers from Russian prostitutes in Moscow. Of course we latched onto that. It is salacious and downright hilarious. The jokes just write themselves.
People keep trying to say that the video, and possibility of blackmail from it, might finally be the thing that gets Trump. No it won’t. It is a total non-story because in reality, nobody cares, not even Trump. The American public, particularly the evangelical right, listened to him brag about going backstage at Miss Teen USA so he could see underage girls naked and didn’t care. Aside from his bragging about sexual assault, he bragged about being a pedophile and his supporters didn’t care.
If a video were to come out of him having a golden shower party, his response would be “We all know that I have a weakness for pretty girls. The prostitution part is a total lie made up by the fake media, so dishonest. They weren’t prostitutes. I have never paid for sex in my life. Pretty girls just throw themselves at me because they cannot resist me”.
The worst that will do to Trump is cause divorce number 3. I am sure he has an iron-clad prenup that caps how much money Melania will be able to get, even in the case of infidelity.
The reality check
None of that is the real story, it is a distraction. The real story is that Russia was allegedly in contact with the Trump campaign throughout the election, that Russia has compromising evidence on Trump’s business deals, and that Russia has been cultivating Trump as an asset for years. Immediately after the election, long before the dossier was made public, a Russian official said in an interview that they had been in contact with the Trump campaign the whole time. Now both Russia and Trump are saying that all of this information is fake.
Trump constantly denies having any relationship with Russia, personal, business, or otherwise. There is video going back many years of him bragging about having a relationship with Putin, though most of that is probably bluster and false self-importance. There is also Don Jr. saying that Russia made up a disproportionately large portion of the Trump portfolio in 2008. Time magazine had a pretty good rundown of Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia back in August. That was before Rex Tillerson’s nomination and Trump hiring Russia’s #1 Law Firm in 2016, Morgan Lewis, to handle divesting himself from his business holdings, among other things.
There are really about 6 possible explanations for all of this. The first 3 are relatively innocuous, if not totally unbelievable. The last 3 should drive you to drink heavily and fear for our country.
About as real as Trump’s medical report
The first explanation is the one that Trump wants everyone to believe. That alone makes it the least believable one. It is that this is all coincidence and a witch hunt from liberals and the “lying media”. That Trump is a businessman with dealings all over the world and people are looking for ghosts to discredit him because he dethroned the queen by being authentic and the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of humankind.
Done laughing yet? Take your time!
The second explanation is that Trump really does admire Putin, but for all the wrong reasons. There is no conspiracy, just jealousy and ego. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin managed to become a kleptocrat the likes of which has never been seen before. There are estimates that he is personally worth as much as $100 billion. Trump is all about money and fame. Putin managed to pillage Russia, which has an economy that is less than 1/5th the size of the US, for $100 billion in 20 years. What could a “world class businessman” do with the US economy in 8 years? Not to mention the prestige of being “the most powerful man in the world”.
It is a pretty sure bet that Trump, or at least his family, will be MUCH more wealthy by the time he leaves office. Check his sons’ stock purchases and shorts after one of Trump’s tweets about a company. Considering Trump’s plan for his businesses and refusing to release his taxes, this is at least vaguely plausible that this isn’t a conspiracy with Putin but an attempt to emulate Putin.
The intelligence community just has it in for Trump and is making stuff up to discredit him, particularly the CIA. Trump, and his surrogates, are peddling this nonsense. This doesn’t make any sense for multiple reasons. Most of these agencies want to keep as low of a profile as possible. So much so that most US citizens don’t even realize that 1/2 of them exist. Also, the agencies tend to favor Republicans who give them more money and less oversight. Trump didn’t bother to do any studying for the debates and hasn’t bothered with briefings, so under Trump, they would likely have free reign to go wild.
Other than Trump’s penchant for trying to start wars via 6am twittering, what possible reason would the agencies have to go after him? There are easier ways to deal with the twitter problem. Like having the NSA block any truly controversial tweets (and random other ones so it doesn’t look like a pattern) in real time until Trump gets frustrated with twitter not working right and gives it up.
Are you wetting the bed yet?
See what I did there? *wink* *wink*
There are 3 really scary possibilities for everything that is going on.
First is that Trump is a willing accomplice of a conspiracy. The dossier stated that Russia has compromising information on Trump in regards to business dealings. There are 2 key bits of information backing this up.
It has been reported, though not confirmed, that Trump may owe over $500 million to the Bayrock group for various business ventures. The Bayrock Group is allegedly little more than the loan sharking wing of the Russian Oligarchs and Putin. Supposedly being in debt to them is akin to being in debt to the mafia and Trump is in DEEP.
The second bit of information is that Trump hired Morgan Lewis to handle transitioning his business holdings to his sons. Morgan Lewis was just named Russia’s #1 law firm in 2016. That means that they are deeply intertwined with the oligarchs and make sure the right people get paid off. Who better to hide all of Trump’s business ties to Russia under a mountain of offshore shell companies in the process of signing them over to his sons, than the law firm of the oligarchs?
It is possible that Russia has leverage over Trump about illegal business dealings that would land him in jail. For as very little as I think of Trump, I don’t think that would be enough to sell out the whole country. We all know that the rich don’t go to jail in the US. They pay a fine and carry on.
One scenario in which I could see Trump selling out the entire country, though. Whether through some sort of leveraged take over or legal fallout, they have blackmail that would cause Trump a fate worse than jail. Losing everything and becoming poor. A loser! Trump is all about the money and fame. It isn’t a stretch at all to believe that he would sell out the country without a second thought if there was a possibility that he would be worth nothing.
This scenario isn’t all that believable though. It is possible, but improbable. Trump’s business holdings are vast and spread out. He has something like 700 or more shell companies in Delaware alone. Having leverage over all of that is simply too big to hide for very long with the spotlight on you. The blow back from it all coming to light would be swift and harsh. The last thing that Putin would want. A uniting force within the US and around the world.
The second scenario here is that Trump is an unwitting pawn of Putin. The intelligence report claims that Russia has been grooming Trump for 5 years or more. Trump is the perfect Manchurian candidate. He isn’t very intelligent and he is the textbook definition of a narcissist in every way. Raging ego, extremely petty and thin-skinned, assumes his every thought is right and perfect, has no regard for others. That makes Trump very easy to manipulate. You just spend some time flattering him and becoming his friend. Give him some good business deals, but make it look like he was a master negotiator. Introduce him to business advisers, or a law firm, who passes along some insider information about investments so that Trump learns to trust them enough to include them in his campaign. Then making subtle suggestions so that Trump thinks the ideas are his own.
“The US is such a terrible place to do business. If only they had a president who understood how business works, the country would be so great!”
“I can’t believe that the US keeps spending so much on NATO when the other countries don’t pay at all”
“If there were just more oil sources, the world economy would explode!”
Trump has two additional qualities that are very useful. While Trump may be a horrific businessman, he is a master salesman. You have to give him credit for that. He is a world class used-car salesman. He also has no brain-mouth filter. During the campaign, those were mostly liabilities or at least should have been. The thing is that Trump is a 24/7 walking talking distraction. The press cannot keep up with how much Trump lies and says outrageous things, much less anything else. That makes slipping fake news into the system so much easier and people miss the important details, like Russia doing the hacking, or cannot tell the difference in what is real and what isn’t.
You now have a candidate sowing chaos, who only cares about the attention he is getting, not the details. So when his Russian connected advisers and law firms make minor suggestions, such as only making one change to the Republican platform (not selling heavy arms to Ukraine), Trump doesn’t care. Those advisers can also throw out the names of potential nominees who are just sympathetic enough to open cracks in policy for Russia to achieve some of it’s agenda.
A successful coup of ego and idiocy.
It’s all fake!!!! That’s right, it is all fake. Maybe Russia has a hotel room video. Maybe they have something minor in Trump’s business dealings that would look bad, but not be particularly damaging.
Let’s face it, in almost everything he says or does, Trump is a walking talking example of “if you ever do that, you’re grounded for life” and he got elected anyway. Russia would have to have something seriously egregious, see #1, for it to matter.
What if Russia is going for the triple crown?
What do we know for certain? Russia is employing propaganda campaigns against liberal parties and politicians throughout Europe. Russia hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails and released them on WikiLeaks. Those emails were extremely damaging to both Clinton and the DNC. Clinton is done and the DNC is in shambles.
Trump’s ego will never let him believe that he did not win the election on anything more than him being the winningest winner who ever won at winning. As such, he will reflexively deny allegations that Russia helped him. Even going so far as to attack the US intelligence services for suggesting it and considering plans to restructure and weaken the CIA.
What if all of this “intelligence” turns out to be disinformation by Russia? The intelligence agencies act on it or propagate it and it then turns out to be false. Russia will have succeeded in destroying the credibility of those agencies and causing a rift between the agencies and the White House.
We also know that Russia hacked into several Republican servers, but did not release the information. Not the RNC, that we know of, but at least several state level servers and who knows about individual accounts. Russia can wait a year or 18 months and release that information before the midterm elections.
Boom, you have the trifecta. The DNC is already in shambles. Kill the credibility of the US intelligence agencies and distance them from the White House which has it’s own credibility problems. Then you kill the RNC. The US is left in political shambles with too many internal problems to be the world police anymore.
If I had to guess, my money would be on some combination of Trump admiring Putin’s kleptocratic skills, Trump being a Manchurian candidate, and a VERY heavy dose of it all being a disinformation campaign to throw the US into extreme political chaos for a few years.
The game may not play out completely for another year or two, but odds are that we lost 5 moves ago and never even realized we were playing.
Would you like that drink now?