Say every bad thing you want about Vladimir Putin, but also give him credit: Planting a real, live Russian agent in the Oval Office! What a coup!
Maybe that claim is a little hasty, but the FBI didn’t think so, going so far as to launch a counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump in 2016 on suspicion that his activities as president were so off-the-wall crazy that he could be an agent of a hostile foreign government — Russia.
The status of that investigation, since taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is uncertain. Mueller’s report can’t come too soon.
The story about Trump as possible secret agent was published last week by our sister paper, The New York Times, and was followed by a report from our other sister paper, The Washington Post, which said that Trump has kept his own staff in the dark about his communication with the Russian president. In fact, The Post reported that Trump went so far as to confiscate a translator’s notes after a conversation with Putin so the notes wouldn’t become part of the federal record.
Trump’s action, as reported in both newspapers, is dangerous, suspicious and unprecedented in the history of the American presidency.
While Putin might receive kudos for the success and sheer audacity of his spycraft, his choice of an actual spy leaves much to be desired. However much Trump sucks as president, he seems equally inept as a secret agent. Putin has to be smacking his own forehead in frustration at the way Trump has given himself away.
We Americans have to count our blessings where we can, so just imagine how much worse things might be if Trump were actually good at his job.
Imagine if he hadn’t fired James Comey, but had been smooth enough to keep stringing the former FBI director along. What if no special prosecutor had been appointed and what if Trump hadn’t mouthed off about Russia and Comey in that interview with NBC’s Lester Holt? What if he’d had the foresight not to invite those Russian diplomats into the Oval Office for a tête-à-tête held out of American media earshot? What if he’d been savvy enough not to parrot the words of his handler, Putin, in spurning his own U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had meddled in our election?
Instead of the suave, sophisticated Agent 007, Putin seems to have installed a bumbling pussy-grabber into the White House, someone more akin to Austin Powers than James Bond. Imagine if Trump hadn’t been so blatant in his groveling. Imagine if he hadn’t telegraphed his allegiance to the Kremlin with every move. He’s been so obvious that only the most shatteringly ignorant troglodytes in a base hardly known for scholarship can fail to see where his loyalty lies.
As scary as it is to contemplate that a Russian agent with access to the nuclear codes might be sitting behind the Resolute Desk as we speak, I also find these thoughts unsettling:
- Republicans in Congress continue to support Trump despite evidence that he’s a numbnuts, at best, and very possibly a treasonous bastard worthy of a Tom Clancy novel.
- Despite the Russian-sponsored election cheating that took place in 2016, enough Americans were stupid enough to fall for it and for Trump’s toxic blend of xenophobia, misogyny and racism. Congratulations, doofuses, it’s sure starting to look like you elected an actual fucking Russian asset!
- Although the visible damage wrought by Trump is catastrophic, what else might he have already done or might he still do that we don’t know about?
- How long will it take to repair the incalculable damage to U.S. integrity and esteem? The preeminent democracy in the world has harbored a Russian spy as its commander and chief and done nothing about it for two years and counting. It’s not a good look. Never think that Putin hasn’t diminished this country on the world stage. Mission accomplished!
There are times in life when something so devastating happens that all you can do is laugh. It’s gallows humor, like when one guy gets kicked in the nuts and his buddies stand around and guffaw while thinking, “Thank God that wasn’t me.”
But it IS me this time. In fact, it’s all of us. America’s president acting on behalf of a hostile foreign power. An entire country is left squirming on the floor, and it sure ain’t no laughing matter.