AS I’VE EXPLAINED previously on these pages, there are three tiers to Trump/Russia:
The first tier, that Russia actively tampered with our election, is the consensus viewpoint of the 17 intelligence agencies comprising the US Intelligence Community, as Hillary Clinton mentioned in the debates, and is established fact to everyone but Trump’s immediate family and Sean Hannity.
The second tier, that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tamper with the election, is, in light of Donald Trump, Jr.’s stunning disclosure, now incontrovertibly true. Even if no other evidence of collusion[1. Yes, I know collusion technically refers to finances, like when the MLB teams colluded to screw Andre Dawson out of money 30 years ago, just like treason can only technically happen when we’re at war, but this is no time for cute semantics, so I’m using the word anyway.] emerges (spoiler alert: there’s lots more where this came from), the content of that e-mail exchange—and the fact that the now-President’s namesake son, son-in-law, and campaign chairman met with a known agent of the Kremlin in order to get dirt on Hillary Clinton!—is unquestionably proof of this coordination, whatever it says on Kellyanne’s desperate flash cards.
The third tier, not yet proven, is quid pro quo. Trump apologists cling to the hope that evidence of this won’t come out, that it’s FAKE NEWS, but why would Trump and his associates coordinate with a thug like Putin—and why, for that matter, would Putin coordinate with a lying sack of shit like Trump—on spec?
Absent collusion, there may have been a possibility that Russia tampered with the election to foist a defective president upon us, and watch him destroy us from within. But now that coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower has been confirmed, it is unthinkable that there wasn’t some sort of larger deal in place. The question is: what did the quid pro quo comprise?
There had to be more to it than “lifted sanctions in exchange for cyber election help.” Remember: Trump did not want to be president. His aim, when he entered the race, was to come in third or fourth, get people talking about him, and raise his profile to enrich the tacky Trump brand. Richard Nixon wanted the White House badly enough that the promise of the presidency alone may have compelled him to seek succor with Russia. Not Trump. Not the guy who didn’t want the job, who doesn’t enjoy the job, who would rather golf than do the job. No, Trump would have needed more incentive than just Russian cyber-help. What did our artful dealer get out of the deal?
Forget about blackmail involving the “pee-pee tape.” Although it almost certainly exists, that sort of kompromat is not enough to sink the man who got away with bragging about sexual assault, even if it were streamed on PornHub, and the threat of its release was certainly not enough to compel Trump and his minions to betray the country. No, this must be about money.
The Steele dossier suggests that there was a financial component to the deal, which makes sense for a number of reasons. First, money is all-important to Trump, a man who is notorious for stiffing contractors, scrimping on charitable donations, and profiting off the presidency, conflicts of interest be damned. Second, while Trump may be a billionaire, he’s highly leveraged; his credit rating is so bad, no US bank will lend money to him. He personally guaranteed a number of nine-figure loans, and when he needed cash desperately, after being turned away by the banks, he went to loan sharks. Russian ones. Debt is a powerful weapon, and Putin, like any good loan shark, knows how to wield it to his advantage.
When the sanctions are lifted on Russia, the oil partnership between Putin’s cronies and Exxon could be worth something like $4 trillion. That’s a lot of kopeks. As I’ve written before, my theory is that Putin did not pay off Trump, but rather forgave a mammoth debt. The discrepancy between the commission on 19% of the Rosneft sale and the actual sale of 19.5% suggests that the half a percent was Trump’s commission: about $270 million, or about what he owes Deutsche Bank. That, I believe, is the number to look for.
Sooner or later, the awful truth will come out. And we’re very close to that truth emerging. Trump/Russia is like a pinata we’ve been whacking for months, and the candy is about to burst onto the floor like pee from a Russian prostitute. How well do you think Donnie Jr. will fare testifying under oath before Congress? As one Twitter wag put it, the guy who repeatedly wet his bed in college thinks he can outsmart the FBI? Please.
Things are about to get ugly in Trumpland—or uglier, I should say. Manafort, Flynn, Stone, Kushner, Sessions, and Cohen are already toast. Now Trump’s eldest son is on the fast track to federal prison. Reince Priebus was at Trump Tower when that meeting took place. Mike Pence was glued to Flynn’s hip all last summer. Steve Bannon and Eric Prince were actively involved with the data side of things; ditto Kushner; meanwhile, the one GOP lackey who copped to trying to weaponize data provided by Russian hackers just killed himself, leaving a Heathers-like suicide note insisting that there was NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER with respect to his death. Paul Ryan made his GOP cronies take a vow of silence on Russian financial aid. Mitch McConnell knew about Russian tampering in June and stonewalled Obama’s attempt to stop it. And the list goes on.
Debt is a powerful weapon, but prison is even more so. There are too many people involved in Trump/Russia who now have all the incentive in the world to rat each other out. And when the truth emerges, I believe that the sheer audacity of the crime will be hard for most Americans to fathom. Trump/Russia makes Teapot Dome or Watergate look like shoplifting a pack of gum.
Everything Trump touches turns to shit. He’s infected the entire GOP with his noxious stink. He must be ousted before it spreads to the country.