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“Speaking truth to power”: The Trump sex tapes



Yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with the country’s six intelligence chiefs was a real eye opener. In case you missed it, every one of the chiefs testified that (a) they’re terribly worried about Russian meddling in the 2018 elections and (b) they already have strong evidence that Russia is in the process of doing so.

Here are the chiefs:

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

FBI Director Christopher Wray

National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers

Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Robert Cardillo.

I take it for granted that these are all good men. They’re patriots who love their country and, regardless of their political affiliations, they don’t want to see Russia determining the outcome of our elections.

Unfortunately, the hearing was a hot, embarrassing mess. Everyone admitted the urgency; no one had the slightest idea what to do about it. It was like a bunch of people helplessly watching a fire burn down their homes. While they’re screaming and crying, the fire rages out of control, and the arsonist escapes.

Typical was this comment by Mike Pompeo, the arch-conservative Republican who now heads the Central Intelligence Agency. Asked by a Senator what America should do about the meddling, Pompeo replied, “It’s complicated problem. We do need a U.S. government strategy and clear authority to go achieve that strategy.”

“If only the president would say that,” replied Angus King, the Maine independent, putting the problem in a nutshell. “I just wish you all could persuade the president, as a matter of national security” to “confront this threat, when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists.”

And yet, Pompeo continued, there is no “clear authority” for a solution from the only person in America who possesses that authority: the President of the United States.

These intelligence chiefs, in whose hands the safety and lives of ourselves and our families, friends and children rests, could do nothing but express their fears and confess their feebleness.

Hey, I’m just an ordinary citizen, but here’s how it looks to me—and, I suspect, to you. Russia has attacked America in a soft but dangerous way: through our elections. They’re doing it again this year, and could even hack their way into ballot boxes and determine the outcome of individual Congressional races. The entire U.S. intelligence community swears that this is an existential threat to our country. Most of the Congress believes it’s a threat. Meanwhile, the president of the United States, as Sen. King said, “continues to deny that [the threat] exists.”

This is an amazing, grave, unprecedented situation. How come Republicans in Congress aren’t more upset? For that matter, how can the six intelligence chiefs just show up for work every day—and keep in mind, they work for Trump–knowing that their warnings are being utterly disregarded by a president who is acting in concert with Russian—not American—geopolitical strategy?

Why don’t those intelligence chiefs scream bloody murder? Set their hair on fire on live T.V.? Tell the American people that the current president would appear to be in collusion with the Kremlin?

Nobody knows why Trump is doing what he’s doing. He’s never been able to explain it. He’s said that the world is better off if America and Russia are friends, which surely is true: Winston Churchill and F.D.R. said the same thing 75 years ago, and both tried their best to cozy up to Stalin. But it didn’t work. Stalin—cagier, craftier, more skilled at realpolitik than either of his Allied colleagues—kept his eye on the ball: increasing Russian power. No idealistic talk for him, no grand visions of fairness and unity, no misty-eyed dreams of kumbaya. Only raw, unfiltered, brute power.

Today, Putin, Stalin’s spiritual heir, is playing the game the same way. He understands how mistrusted he is among our government’s elite: the intelligence chiefs and Congressional leaders, not to mention former presidents, who see right through him. But Putin also understands that he has the ultimate weapon on his side: Donald J. Trump. As long as Putin has Trump protecting him, Putin and his colleagues are safe. They can go ahead and worm their way into our elections and get away with it.

Given Trump’s spectacular inability to explain his inaction with regard to Russian meddling, a reasonable person can infer only one thing: Putin is bringing extraordinary pressure to bear upon Trump. Trump has so much to lose by supporting Russian meddling that you have to assume he wouldn’t do it unless he were scared to death of something far more threatening to him. What could it be?

There’s only one rational conclusion. The dossier…the Russian prostitutes…it’s all just a rumor, right? Unless there’s proof that it actually happened. And there’s only one kind of proof that could be convincing: a videotape.

There’s every reason to think that the president of the Russian Federation is blackmailing the president of the United States of America by promising to withhold from publication the Trump sex tapes. If Donald Trump will resist all U.S. attempts to counter Russian meddling in our internal affairs, Vladimir Putin will keep the videotape secret. If Trump does anything counter to Russian interests, it would be easy for Putin’s agents to see to it that the videotape ends up in the hands of, say, Reuters, from whence it would be published for all the world to see. In that event, Trump’s presidency would come to an immediate end. He would be arrested and tried and probably executed for treason. His family would come apart, his businesses collapse, his legacy destroyed. This is Donald Trump’s overwhelming fear; it explains everything. He must fight it with everything he has.

And fighting he is, like a cornered sewer rat. That’s to be expected from an outer-borough brawler. The ugly, sad thing is that Trump’s street gang now includes, not just the complicit Republican Party, but, with yesterday’s testimony, the U.S. intelligence community.

I’ll conclude with this observation from John McLaughlin, former CIA Acting Director, which he made on MSNBC following the hearing: “What the American people are seeing here is the intelligence community speaking truth to power.” It’s the least the Trump Six could do. Now it’s up to Congressional Republicans to put country before party and demand the truth from a rogue president.




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