Has Trump been a Russian asset since 1987?

Jonathan Chait went there with what he calls “a plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion”: Has Trump been a Russian asset since 1987?

A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists, but we can responsibly speculate as to what lies at the end of this scandal without falling prey to their fallacies. Conspiracy theories tend to attract people far from the corridors of power, and they often hypothesize vast connections within or between governments and especially intelligence agencies. One of the oddities of the Russia scandal is that many of the most exotic and sinister theories have come from people within government and especially within the intelligence field.

The first intimations that Trump might harbor a dark secret originated among America’s European allies, which, being situated closer to Russia, have had more experience fending off its nefarious encroachments. In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic states shared with then–CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, head of the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, flew to Washington to brief Brennan on intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The contents of these communications have not been disclosed, but what Brennan learned obviously unsettled him profoundly. In congressional testimony on Russian election interference last year, Brennan hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country. “Individuals who go along a treasonous path,” he warned, “do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.” In an interview this year, he put it more bluntly: “I think [Trump] is afraid of the president of Russia. The Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult.”

While the fact that the former CIA director has espoused this theory hardly proves it, perhaps we should give more credence to the possibility that Brennan is making these extraordinary charges of treason and blackmail at the highest levels of government because he knows something we don’t.

Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama — suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.

Many people have been saying this for a while — Sarah Kendzior and Malcolm Nance, just to name two.

I simply assumed this, and 1987 was the turning point. That’s when Trump started talking about his “genius” plan to stop nuclear war (spoiler alert: He said he would make a deal with Putin where they would nuke a small country and it would scare everyone else so much, they would all give up their nukes.)

And when a former DIA comes out and implies the president may be “treasonous,” well, we have a problem. Hopefully this will all be public soon.

4 thoughts on “Has Trump been a Russian asset since 1987?

  1. We have a problem alright, but Trump actually being an honest-to-god Russian agent isn’t one of them.
    Trump is too dumb even for the Russian’s to use as an asset. Trump is Lee Harvey Oswald dumb and useless.

    The problem we have is that unless Trump is utterly destroyed, disgraced and impoverished he will hang around for years like a bad fart.

    We will be hearing from Trump in one form or another until he passes from this mortal coil.

    Oh boy, another 20 years of Trumpisms?

  2. I question the premise. If Mueller has anything that categorically proves Trump took laundered Russian money in the last election cycle, he had an obligation to put the treason case forward. I am going to be damned pissed if he sat on perfecting his case while the conspirator nominated two Supreme Court Justices. This would be the opposite of Comey’s mistake.

  3. That’s not the point. Mueller already knows what Trump is guilty of, but he is building a case that doesn’t rely on signal intelligence because that would compromise sources. He has to find alternative sources for all of that.

  4. Illegal yes to take foreign funds but not yet treasonous.
    “Treason shall be defined as waging war against the United States, giving aid and comfort to her enemies”
    Now under some constructions, i.e. by NATO treaty an attack upon allies is an attack upon the US. Putins Russia has in fact engaged in cyberattacks against allies. Are cyberattacks ‘warfare’?

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