The Puppet master and the Devious Dealer
May 10, 2017 § 1 Comment
The Current Uproar
Yesterday President Trump fired James Comey, the FBI Director. The news commentariat is obsessed with his motives for that decision. His critics contend he was fearful lest Comey and his investigators would uncover damning evidence of collusion between Vladimir Putin and Trump or his managers and advisors to discredit Hillary Clinton and favor Trump during the presidential election campaign. This would cast a shadow of doubt about the legitimacy of Trump’s election to the presidency; i.e. “Did he really win the election or was it handed to him by Putin?”
The President’s supporters dismiss this problem and staunchly support his claims: Comey’s termination was required because he failed to sufficiently ascribe blame for Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. This excuse is obviously false. Trump’s contemporaneous tweets praising Comey’s handling of the email matter as well as the long delay between the alleged cause and the alleged effect both serve to equate Trump’s claims with the legendary excuse of the errant schoolboy: “My dog ate my homework.”
A Modest Alternative Suggestion
I have no more evidence of President Trump’s motives for firing Comey than those who assume he did so to discredit in advance any conclusion by Comey incriminating the Trump campaign or Trump himself. I do, however, offer a different possibility. My modest suggestion is based on the following facts:
Negotiations Trump Style
Donald Trump made his fortune by a lifetime of negotiations with lenders, builders and land owners. This record reflects a negotiation style discernible as follows: Use borrowed money to finance projects. Repay debts based on a comparison of the probable consequences of repaying them versus the probable consequences of not repaying them or repaying only part of them. This simple formula is also applicable to paying for goods and services purchased to build improvements on acquired land. This method of handling money was accompanied by a style of person-to-person interaction based on flattery, intimidation and deception,, a style developed to a high degree of skill sufficient to divert attention from the policy of debt repayment mentioned above.
The result of these skills and methods was the accumulation of a fortune of many billions of dollars. [ In passing: In some ways Trump’s skill is similar to that of a successful poker player.]
Negotiations Putin Style
Vladimir Putin is a lifelong practitioner of the art and skill of a spymaster. He acquired those abilities during decades of service in the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence service and, after the Soviet Union’s empire was decimated and Russia became a separate country, more decades spent using those same skills to rebuild that empire. Here is a brief summary of one of those skills:
Select a person with authority and access to information or authority over the policies of a foreign nation. Learn some potential vulnerability of the target person. Design some way to use that vulnerability to induce the target person to engage in some action or inaction which, if publicly disclosed, would harm or embarrass the person. Then blackmail the target person with a threat, either express or implied, of disclosure of the embarrassing information. Then control the actions or inaction of the target person in ways advantageous to Putin.
A Possible Explanation of Putin’s and Trump’s Motivations
When I imagine the interaction of Putin and Trump during the presidential campaign and Trump”s brief term as President of the United States, I see them as gladiators in an arena in ancient Rome, circling each other. Trump holds a trident. Putin holds a net. Each is confident of his ability to protect himself from the other and ultimately benefiting from the contest.
My speculation about this matter began with a question: “Who undoubtedly knows exactly what interactions occurred between Trump and his family and advisors and Putin?” The obvious answer was, “Putin”. I then asked myself, “What would be the consequences of disclosing the details of those interactions?” “Would that disclosure harm Putin?” “Would that disclosure harm Trump?” I suspect it would harm both but in different ways and to different degrees of seriousness.
How Would Disclosure Harm Putin?
If there were financial and policy agreements between Putin and Donald Trump, his family and advisors, they probably involved the enrichment of Putin. Making deals facilitating profits resulting from land, loans and construction of buildings is native to Trump’s tool house. That’s what he does. The carefully groomed and constructed public image of Putin as the leader of a communist country, however, hardly matches someone who makes deals with the world’s most famous capitalist from the world’s most prominent capitalist country for the purpose of garnering millions of dollars worth of personal gain.
Even if I’m wrong about Trump cutting Putin in on some of the Trump family business deals involving property and franchises in Russia as well as Russian property deals in the United States, Putin had a powerful motive to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming President of the United States. They had a mutually hostile relationship with each other during Hillary’s service as Secretary of State.. Putin had good reason to know his problems would multiply during a Clinton presidency.
So, I think Vladimir Putin was understandably nervous about the FBI led by James Comey , digging deeply into the nature and details of transactions and cooperation between himself and Donald Trump or Trump’s family or advisors. Of course Putin does not have the problem of a free press or unbridled democracy. Still, his reputation as a strong and incorruptible communist leader is doubtless important to him.
How Would Disclosure Harm Trump?
The exposure of details of collaboration with Vladimir Putin would not only harm Donald Trump, it might trigger a call for his impeachment. First it would indelibly ink the word “liar” on his forehead. This could not be shrugged off as merely another example of his well known mendacity. Evidence that the President of the United States colluded with a Russian leader to affect a presidential election could not be ignored. This would be true whether it involved face-to-face negotiations between Trump and Putin, or negotiations between the Trump family and advisors with Putin. Such evidence would be a major political problem for Trump.
If there were such negotiations – and I strongly suspect there were – we can be sure Putin took care to keep records, notes and probably surreptitious recordings of them. If that kind of evidence were presented on the evening news shows, the results would make Nixon’s recorded plots with his advisors look like a weenie roast by comparison.
So, What Do I Think Might Have Happened?
I believe it is likely that sometime last week Vladimir Putin or some courier of his sent a message to Donald Trump: “You must shut down James Comey and this FBI investigation. I can’t afford to have our financial and political dealings exposed. If you don’t take the necessary action I will publicly acknowledge or disclose through third party sources the nature of our arrangements to discredit Hillary Clinton. I will justify my part of that effort as a means of preventing a known enemy of the Russian empire, to which I owe allegiance, from gaining control of the power of the United States of America. I leave it to you to decide how to justify your participation and benefit from our joint efforts.”
I think that threat of blackmail was received and perfectly understood by Donald Trump. I believe it explains why, without any meaningful consultation with his White House Staff, he fired James Comey.
If I am right, we now have a President who is subject to the control of a hostile world power. It is a chilling thought because Donald Trump does not take kindly to being controlled by anyone. The real danger is that he will resort to the only way to free himself from Putin’s control: wage WWIII.