It’s time for us to accept what the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge: that Donald Trump is a Russian asset and, as such, a grave security risk to the nation.
Witting or not. Criminal or not. Whether he’s a master spy or a useful idiot, it doesn’t matter how he got there. Trump is a longtime front man, money launderer, and generally shady operator for both the criminal organizations and intelligence communities of eastern Europe. And while the details may never be fully revealed, the big picture couldn’t be clearer.
This is neither supposition nor revelation. There is a rich and eye-popping literature of Trump corruption, chronicling his deep business ties to one mob boss or another, both here and abroad.
Yet for some reason, the press goes out of its way to avoid the subject. We can only hope the justice system is more on top of it.
Because there’s a mountain of evidence, and it goes back forty years. Whether that evidence rises to the level of criminality is a matter for law enforcement, but it absolutely rises to the level of extreme danger for Western democracy. Crimes are the least of our problems.
So why is this story not being shouted from the rooftops?
Craig Unger, who has written numerous articles and books about the Trump-Russia connection, marvels at how much of the story is common knowledge — easily discoverable in the public record — yet still not widely known to the public at large. In his words:
Specifically, I knew that:
· Starting in 1980, an alleged “spotter agent” for the KGB began cultivating Trump as a new asset for Soviet intelligence.
· The Russian mafia laundered millions of dollars through Donald Trump’s real estate by purchasing condos in all-cash transactions through anonymous corporations that did not disclose real ownership.
· Trump Tower was a home away from home for Vyacheslav Ivankov, one of the most brutal leaders of the Russian mafia, and at least 13 people with known or alleged links to the mafia held the deeds to, lived in, or ran alleged criminal operations out of Trump Tower in New York or other Trump properties.
· Trump was some $4 billion in debt when the Russians came to bail him out via the Bayrock Group, a real estate firm that was largely staffed, owned, and financed by Soviet émigrés who had ties to Russian intelligence and/or organized crime.
Unger’s writing, which goes broad and deep, is profusely detailed, well-documented, and informed by a long trail of official investigations and legal filings going back decades. And I’m guessing he’s barely scratched the surface. It all begs to be further investigated.
Because, like his father before him, Trump has spent a lifetime doing business with crooks. Until the nineties, it was largely with the old Italian Cosa Nostra families of the eastern seaboard. From then on, it was with the Russian mobs, who used their vast financial resources, plus a prodigious capacity for violence, to sweep aside the Italian rackets and take over the American underworld.
They also took over Trump, though he was engaged long before then with mafias in Russia and various eastern European countries. In that murky milieu, there is considerable overlap between the intelligence services and organized crime — and Trump served both.
His first wife, Ivana, was the daughter of a Czechoslovakian intelligence officer. They got married in 1977, and Trump has almost certainly been on the radar of Russian intelligence ever since, though he probably wasn’t approached until a few years later. (Fun fact: Donald Junior spent a lot of his childhood behind the Iron Curtain with his maternal grandfather, and speaks fluent Czech.)
Like any experienced high-level mobster, Trump cultivated ties to law enforcement. His contacts go back decades, especially with the FBI, and they have presumably come in handy in his many confrontations with both the justice system and the counterintelligence community.
A fair number of those confrontations involved names we all know from the Mueller investigation — Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Christopher Steele, and Robert Mueller himself — all of whom were experts on Russian organized crime, and all of whom were past antagonists of Trump’s. As president, he singled out each of them for special harassment — and, wherever possible, revenge — for reasons that we now know go back much further than his presidency.
Greg Olear, another seasoned Trump watcher, has long been convinced that Trump was, in fact, an FBI informant. Olear has written of several dicey episodes in the eighties and nineties, when Trump, along with key organized crime figures, was on the very cusp of being indicted on a variety of racketeering statutes. Each time, Trump skated, while the mob guys went to prison. Olear writes:
The only way to know for sure if Donald John Trump is a Confidential Informant is if he admits it himself (unlikely), or if law enforcement comes forward (illegal). But the circumstantial evidence is compelling. The pattern is: 1) Trump deals with mobsters as usual; 2) Law enforcement begins investigating Trump; 3) Mobsters suddenly get busted, while 4) investigation into Trump is scuttled. This happened three times that we know about.
I think we need to recognize the difference between legal matters and counterintelligence matters. In counterintelligence, the concern isn’t so much the legality of the target’s actions, as it is the harm that the target is doing, or could do, to the nation.
This is an important distinction. Because quite apart from Trump’s myriad alleged crimes, we also have to conclude — from the Mueller investigation, two impeachments, and the January 6 committee — that he’s among the most serious security threats the nation has ever faced. Yet we can detect little sense of urgency, either from the government or the media.
From the government, a certain opacity is understandable, especially regarding open investigations. But the media has no such excuse. Among its many failings is an obvious reluctance to chase down the thousands of threads that unquestionably tie Trump to organized crime.
Even worse, I suspect that many of these threads have, in fact, been chased down, but for one reason or another were edited out of the mainstream narrative.
So we can only hope there are still dedicated counterintelligence professionals on the case — people who understand the threat, are working to mitigate it, and are not, as yet, on the payroll of Oleg Deripaska.
That might be too much to ask. Trump eviscerated the State Department and, as far as we know, the CIA as well. And it’s quite clear that the FBI has been compromised, though we have no idea how much. The arrest of Charles McGonigal, once the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, is a five-alarm fire that might soon tell us the extent to which the nation’s law enforcement community — our very ability to police ourselves — has been sabotaged.
But let’s be clear. Trump is an ongoing counterintelligence nightmare, and we still can’t begin to estimate the damage he has already done to national security. And continues to do.
That he also happens to be a lifelong criminal, who may or may not be brought to justice, is almost beside the point.
The list of writers who have done deep dives into this subject matter is a lengthy one. Unger and Olear, to be sure. But also David Corn, Malcolm Nance, Catherine Belton, David Enrich, and a woman known as Lincoln’s Bible — to name just a few. Some are journalists, some are academics, some are just concerned citizens combing through the information that’s out there. All are trying to get us to see what’s in front of our noses.