July 18, 2018


Now We All Know What Putin Has on Trump (Julia Ioffe, 7/17/18, GQ)

By the summer of 2016, after a well-timed dump of stolen DNC e-mails nonetheless failed to prevent Clinton from clinching the Democratic nomination, there was only one person who wasn't her. And--as we then suspected and now know--the Kremlin was working to help elect that person, Donald Trump. Trump spoke glowingly of wanting to be friends with Putin and resetting relations with Russia; Clinton, long described as a hawk, was a realist on Russia. She understood Putin well, and Putin knew that. Not only had Clinton publicly questioned the integrity of Russia's rigged elections when she was Secretary of State; she was also a representative of the Obama administration, which Putin loathed. Obama had imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea. Obama had sent Michael McFaul, a well-known scholar of democratization in Russia and color revolutions, to be ambassador to Russia just before Putin's 2012 elections, something Putin came to see as a form of meddling. Kremlin TV went with the line that McFaul was there to overthrow Putin, and according to McFaul's new memoir, Putin drank the Kool-Aid. [...]

What didn't occur to me was the most obvious option, the one we saw revealed in Helsinki. When Putin was asked if he had compromising materials on Trump, Trump interjected and said, "I have to say, if they had it, it would have been out long ago." And it's true. It's been out for ages, since the October 2016 warning by the intelligence community, then the January 2017 report from the Director of National Intelligence, then the drip-drip-drip of revelations in the press, and indictment after Mueller indictment, the last installment coming just three days before the Helsinki presser. Trump was right. It is out there.

The kompromat is the election result itself, and Trump is lashing out at the people who are trying to get him to do something on its basis: the press, the Democrats, the intelligence community, Robert Mueller, and Trump's own Department of Justice. We are the ones saying, Do this or else. And Trump is, predictably, lashing out. The only person, it seems, who knows how to use the blackmail to his advantage is Putin. True to the intelligence training he spoke about today, Putin knows his subject and his supple psychology, the nooks and crannies of his insecurities and obsessions. Why threaten him when you can get him to do your bidding with simple flattery: Of course we didn't interfere, Donald. You won fair and square. You did it all by your genius self.

...has been that the collusion can't be a crime because they did it publicly.

Posted by at July 18, 2018 4:24 AM