If anyone understands intelligence and counterintelligence, it’s James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama. He just announced on CNN’s “The Lead” that the current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is a “Russian asset,” a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to be “handled” in ways that advance Russian national interests and weaken America.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: Vladimir Putin "knows how to handle an asset and that's what he's doing with the President" https://t.co/1bOnWU9hVI
— CNN (@CNN) December 18, 2017
In so many words, Clapper, who has been sounding the Russia-Trump alarms since before Trump took office said of the Russian leader, “Putin is a great case officer. He knows how to handle an asset and that’s what he’s doing with the President.” He later qualified the word “asset” as a “figurative” expression, but his point was well taken.
Putin worked as an agent in the Soviet-era KGB, then ran its post-Soviet successor, the FSB. His spy fingerprints are all over Trump’s ascent to the Oval Office.
Clapper’s made his comments in response to Putin’s praise of Trump today for sharing intelligence purportedly to help prevent a terrorist attack on the Russian city of St. Petersburg. However, Clapper asserted that this kind of intelligence sharing is commonplace behind the scenes and usually goes unreported. It appears that the friendly statements from both Trump and Putin announcing Trump’s “help” are intended to cover up ulterior motives, perhaps compromising sensitive national security information.
According to today’s US News and World Report, former Deputy CIA Direct John McLaughlin echoed Clapper’s point:
[I]t indicates both men see some advantage in it . . . ‘It’s another example of Putin flattering Trump,’ says McLaughlin, who served as acting director in 2004 and focused on Russian and Eurasian issues during his 30-year tenure . . . For Trump’s part, he probably thinks it buttresses his argument that we can have, and benefit from, a ‘normal’ relationship with Russia.’
Trump denies that his buddy Putin, who murders investigative journalists and jails dissidents, meddled in the American, despite 17 American intelligence agencies verifying that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
In fact, the U.S. president has far more praise for his Kremlin counterpart than for his own FBI, which he attacks incessantly for its investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to change the outcome of the American election, in exchange for lifting Obama-era sanctions. Aided by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing “dark money” to flow into political campaigns, other Republican politicians have also benefited from valuable Russian contributions, disincentivizing their pursuit of the truth.
With Putin and with no one else, Trump has been true to his word. Even though he he was forced to sign the sanctions bill which passed almost unanimously in the Senate (Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Bernie Sanders were the only Senators to vote “no”) , to date Trump has refused to implement any sanctions against Russia.
Trump caught sharp criticism for sharing intelligence about Israel with the then-Russian ambassador and Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office in May, also letting them know that by firing former FBI director James Comey, he had relieved “pressure” on himself regarding his cooperation with Russia. So ignorant was he of American law, Trump did not realize that firing Comey would automatically trigger the hiring of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who now had a clear case of obstruction of justice to pursue.
Meanwhile, Mike Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, and his former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos have both pled guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation and are cooperating with Mueller. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates have been indicted on 12 charges, including conspiracy against the U.S. Mueller’s team have questioned Trump’s inner circle and have set their sites on the president’s own lawyer’s this week.
Trump touting a mutual Russian-American admiration society right when Mueller is closing in seems like a terrible idea. But with all the kompromat, or compromising material, Putin has cultivated on Trump, the Russian president has his “asset” right where he wants him. Regardless of their party, Americans would be wise to heed James Clapper’s warning.