Saturday, July 28, 2018


Newsweek considers whether Donald Trump might soon cease to be of use to Russia, quoting Julia Davis, an expert on Russian propaganda:
The Kremlin, [Davis said], is “growing very frustrated because there's so many controls that are being placed on” Trump by Congress, starting with Russian sanctions, upgrades to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and beefed-up military aid to Ukraine.... And then there are the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections....

“They like to talk about him as weak and incompetent and just pretty much a clown,” Davis said of the Moscow analysts.... “They still think he might prove himself to do what he promised him to do. But if he goes down, I expect they would not skip a beat. They would jump in to help finish him off.”
And what would the Russians do?
Measures at Putin’s disposal include leaking a mix of real and fabricated details on Trump’s suspected debts to Russian bankers and oligarchs, said Milton Bearden, a legendary former CIA officer....

“Putin can continue to plug along with his best friend and watch how tribalism and divisions within American society continue to tear it apart,” Bearden told Newsweek. “However, if things start to quiet down here, Putin can begin to release whatever it is he might have on the president. It can be real information dealing with the money flow from Deutsche Bank, or it can be carefully fabricated information that looks genuine.”

“I can imagine a wide variety of scenarios,” John Sipher, another top former CIA Russia hand, wrote in March, including the Kremlin injecting “stolen or otherwise unverified” or “well-crafted forgeries” into the U.S. media to take down Trump or just fan political chaos in the U.S.
But "fan[ning] political chaos in the U.S." is how they helped elect Trump -- I'm not clear on how it would hurt him, unless it's economic chaos. (We're reading now that the Russians are focusing on hacks of the U.S. electric grid. Maybe that's more important to them now than anhything involving Trump.) Unless we've gone into a significant economic downturn, I think "political chaos in the U.S." will just make Trump's base love him more, if that's even humanly possible. (In America, no Republican is ever blamed for unrest, by either the conservative media or the mainstream press; the message is always that the unrest is precisely why we need Republican rule.)

Embarrassing information on Trump's finances that's genuine could hurt him, by I don't see the mainstream and lefty media falling for even skillfully crafted fake revelations, at least not for very long. There's still a belief in expertise in the center and left press; people who could spot the fakery would be heard and heeded, and the forgery would be discredited.

In any case, none of it, real or fake, would would persuade any Republican who isn't already a #NeverTrumper. That's just not how Republicans operate. And the release of damaging information on Trump, real or fake, would be regarded by the Trumpers as proof that Putin never worked with Trump at all. (Anti-anti-Trumpers on the left would second that.)

That may be how this ends -- with Russians publicly dumping Trump just to leave us arguing about whether they'd ever worked with him at all. If they release true dirt on Trump, they might help bring him down. But nothing else will work.

For now, though, why would they want to finish him off? No president will ever be as pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin as Trump. Even with his flaws and incompetence, he's their best asset.

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