That the ‘Trump dossier’ is working to Donald Trump’s advantage, and that he is a far more skilful politician than some people suppose him to be, found confirmation from his press conference today.
The ODNI report which was published on Friday proved to be so empty of evidence that in my opinion it did more long term harm to the reputation of the US intelligence community than it did to Donald Trump’s legitimacy, or to his policy of detente with Russia.
However the very vagueness of the ODNI report also meant that it is next to impossible to prove its claims untrue. It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative, making it difficult for both Trump and the Russians to refute claims that it was Russian intelligence which was behind the Clinton leaks, especially given the almost complete media blackout on Craig Murray’s revelations.
However the ‘Trump dossier’ is a different matter. Its contents are so lurid and improbable, and many of its factual assertions are so demonstrably false, that it is easy to deny and take apart.
That is precisely what Donald Trump did in his press conference. Wisely he focused on denouncing the ‘Trump dossier’ as ‘fake news’, whilst casually saying that the Russians probably did hack the DNC though pointing out other states have hacked the US also.
This appears now to be the agreed line within the Trump team. An early though unfortunately somewhat garbled version of it was expressed by Reince Priebus a few days ago, and variations of it are now being repeated by Trump’s picks for cabinet posts including Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, in his Senate confirmation hearing today. This approach avoids a head on clash with the US intelligence community, whilst downplaying the significance of the whole issue. It is consistent with the line Trump took in his statement on Friday, which whilst conciliatory towards the US intelligence community, admitted nothing of substance.
One other effect of the ‘Trump dossier’ is that it has finally convinced many skeptics that the US intelligence community and the CIA especially are indeed engaged in an attempt to delegitimse and box in Donald Trump. Consider what Glen Greenwald has said about the conduct of the CIA in his exceptionally fine article about the ‘Trump dossier’ today
The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.
But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.
Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?
All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.
For months the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”
When a journalist as skeptical and level headed as Glen Greenwald – who is no friend of Donald Trump’s – makes these sort of points, and is prepared to speak openly of the US Deep State working against the constitutionally elected President of the United States, then the attempt to delegitimise Donald Trump has become altogether too obvious, and is failing.