“The media has treated the notion that Russia has personally compromised the president of the United States as something close to a kook theory,” wrote New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait.
The text comes as a score of Democrats and some Republicans have tried to caution that the United States has been compromised not only in terms of the election but also the U.S. power grid as well as other critical infrastructure. The security of the nation, however, has fallen by the wayside as the GOP has been able to score legislative and judicial victories they feared they’d lost.
“A minority of analysts, mostly but not exclusively on the right, have promoted aggressively exculpatory interpretations of the known facts, in which every suspicious piece of evidence turns out to have a surprisingly innocent explanation,” Chait continued. “And it is possible, though unlikely, that every trail between Trump Tower and the Kremlin extends no farther than its point of current visibility.”
He goes to on imagine an “unlikely but possible outcome,” that things are actually worse than an adversarial country hacking a power grid and an election.
“What would it look like if it were reassembled into a single narrative, one that distinguished between fact and speculation but didn’t myopically focus on the most certain conclusions?” he asked.
While a conspiracy theory, it wouldn’t be far from possibility as Trump eagerly begged for approval to open a Trump Tower Moscow and hoped to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin while hosting the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.
“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,” wrote Chait. “In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit.”
He then cited an April 2016 audio recording from Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign captured by one of the Baltic states and shared with then–CIA director John Brennan.
“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,” Chait wrote as another piece of evidence. “The contents of these communications have not been disclosed, but what Brennan learned obviously unsettled him profoundly.”
While testifying before Congress, Brennan “hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country,” Chait recalled.
“Individuals who go along a treasonous path,” Brennan said, “do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.”
But in an interview, Chait notes, Brennan was more open about what he learned.
“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,” he said.