by Tom Maertens
April 20, 2017
Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11.
The magazine Foreign Policy asked: “Is Trump Russia’s Useful Idiot, or Has He Been Irreparably Compromised?” There are currently three investigations underway to determine whether he conspired with Putin to tilt the U.S. election in his favor.
As a candidate, Trump denigrated NATO and the EU, and criticized allies such as Germany, while consistently praising Vladimir Putin. Clinton Watts, ex-FBI agent, detailed for the Senate Intelligence Committee how Trump and his campaign used Russian propaganda against his opponents, including the principal claim that the election was rigged.
Sen. Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee has revealed that Russia hired 1,000 people to create anti-Clinton ‘fake news’ during the election.
CBS News reports that the FBI is investigating whether the Trump campaign helped Russian intelligence carry out cyberattacks on the DNC as far back as March 2016. Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and other U.S. sources have told the Guardian that FBI Director James Comey has “direct and incontrovertible evidence” that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Dearlove has also accused Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia during the financial crisis to avoid bankruptcy — which his tax returns would reveal.
According to The New York Times and the Guardian, Britain, Holland, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia and possibly France provided information on secret meetings in Europe between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates” (NYT).
The Washington Post reported that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last summer to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page, indicating there was probable cause to believe he was a Russian agent.
Michael Flynn’s actions probably also warranted a FISA warrant. He met with several of Russia’s far-right allies in Europe; he also understated payments from the Russian government on his financial disclosure form, according to The Wall Street Journal.
BBC News reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had at least 15 bank accounts in Cyprus, a center for Russian money laundering, and bought homes in New York with cash. Flynn, Page, Manafort, Sessions, Stone and other campaign officials had meetings with Russian officials and lied about them.
Others with suspicious links to Russia include Eric Prince, who met secretly with a Russian emissary in Mauritius, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who met repeatedly with one of Putin’s puppet bankers and convicted spies, Evgeny Buryakov. Kushner failed to report it on his security questionnaire, a possible felony.
USA Today detailed some of the connections between Trump and wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations. Dozens of wealthy Russians, including some with criminal convictions, have bought condos in Trump properties.
A former assistant U.S. attorney in New York said that the Trump SoHo project “was largely financed by illegally obtained cash from Russia …, including money provided by known international financial criminals and organized crime racketeers.”
As Steven Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations, told the Financial Times, “… behind every great Russian fortune there is a great friendship with the Kremlin.”
Karen Dawisha (Putin’s Kleptocracy) and William Browder (Red Notice), among others, have documented the ties between Putin, the FSB, and the Russian mafia.
In response, Trump, whom the Los Angeles Times said “… gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief,” has attempted to divert and distract, claiming that Obama had wiretapped him, that Susan Rice had revealed classified information, and bombing Syria as diversions.
As Trump tweeted back in 2012, “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin — watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.”
Tellingly, his (putative) secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, admits Donald Trump’s attack on Syria wasn’t intended to do any damage to Assad. In other words, it was a diversion; a president who has told us he believes military intervention happens when poll numbers are in a tailspin has just intervened while his poll numbers were in a tailspin.
As the L.A. Times editorial board wrote: “(Trump) has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy.”
There are too many Russia contacts to be coincidental; Trump the Kremlin’s useful fool had to have orchestrated them, and is now irreparably compromised.
Also published in the Mankato Free Press.