U.S. investigators are examining whether this river of pension benefits intended for Russian military veterans is somehow mixed up in efforts to undermine last fall’s U.S. election and put Donald Trump in the White House.
When dealing with high-level Russian business associates, you are bound to encounter intelligence officials. The question is: If Russian intelligence officers approached other members of team Trump, who may have also conducted business in Russia, or with Russian associates, would they have known who they were really be dealing with?
Now that the horses have left the barn, trotted out the front gate, and are galloping headlong down the county road, editors at the New York Times have taken to public bickering about who left the stalls unlatched. Not that it’s doing the rest of us much good.
Putin got his big break in politics when, as a young intelligence officer, he affirmed that a murky videotape of a man cavorting with hookers was indeed a foe of Boris Yeltsin’s. Today, sleazy videos of public figures are a regular feature on Russian TV.
Donald Trump is fulfilling the role of an authoritarian demagogue so thoroughly that if this whole disaster were a movie, it would be criticized for being formulaic and cliched. His frequently expressed hostility toward the media comes right out of a well-worn copy of the Dictator’s Playbook, and he has repeatedly revealed himself to be an enemy of a free press.
Trump responded to the polls this morning in the most Trumpian way possible: by re-whining the story of how the system is rigged against the racist, misogynist white male trust fund kid-turned-adult billionaire who, despite no previous experience in government or the military, and a lack of coherent policy proposals, was elected president.
If Trump won’t take questions from serious journalists at a news conference, it’s not a news conference. Reporters are merely playing “straight man” on a reality TV show — complete with paid hecklers and promotions for Trump properties. They don’t have to be there.
The furor over his controversial dossier linking Donald Trump to the Kremlin led former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to make himself scarce — but Danziger thinks he’ll be received warmly in any British pub.
In the short term, if the president just ignores the intelligence community that’s obviously extremely dangerous, because the decisions won’t be made based on the facts. But in the long run, you can actually have an impact on the intelligence community itself. So that a young person coming out of a graduate program decides instead of going to the CIA, I’m going to instead go to Goldman Sachs, and make a lot more money anyway.
Never has there been a leader more deserving of stories full of innuendo and giggle-inducing allegations about him. You reap what you sow, to quote Donald Trump’s second-favorite book, right after his own ghostwritten tome.
The Trump dossier is an intelligence file, not a prosecution memo; its purpose is not to prove a case but to point a direction. And as subsequent coverage in the Guardian and Financial Times indicated, its author Christopher Steele is no mere purveyor of gossip. He is a highly respected and experienced former official of MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, where he oversaw the agency’s work in Russia and Eastern Europe for decades.
An unprecedented pre-presidential inauguration feud between Donald Trump and intelligence agencies that soon will be under his command could harm U.S. security if not quickly defused. These disputes could prompt the departure of personnel and lead those who remain to take fewer risks to counter security threats.
Trump sought to use yesterday’s press conference to conflate the two stories and employ them to shatter the credibility of the news outlets that published them. The result was a horrifying day for press freedom. Trump will be sworn in as president in eight days. Things can still get much, much worse.
Still, journalists get squeamish at the notion of being activists for anything, for obvious reasons. But that’s what we need to be now. We must let our readers and viewers know how we do what we do and why it matters. It’s clear that the angriest of Trump supporters feel emboldened by his election and his behavior ever since.
The lesson from Trump is that he won’t accept the sort of adversarial journalism CNN has engaged in here, which is necessary and vital for a modern, functioning democracy. But if you suck up like Breitbart did (and has done), you will be perfectly fine.
Trump’s defense has actually included citing the Kremlin’s denial as evidence that the story isn’t true. And yet, some in the media have followed along, conflating BuzzFeed’s work with CNN’s and focusing on BuzzFeed’s decision to release the memo rather than engaging with the troubling implications of the CNN report.