For Russian hold on Trump, follow the Money, not the Sex tapes

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Buzzfeed has published the unverified allegations by a former MI6 analyst with good Russian contacts, contained in a two-page hitherto secret annex to the US intelligence community’s report on Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 election. These two pages have circulated in Washington for months. David Corn talked about them, though not with salacious detail, in October, and then Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote a sharp letter to FBI director James Comey about them.

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The notion that Donald J. Trump might have been recorded doing kinky things on business trips to Moscow or St. Petersburg is plausible, but people should be careful here. It isn’t proven, and intelligence professionals gather a lot of raw intelligence that is nonsense. The specific allegations in the annex don’t make much sense (urolagnia is a fetish for sexual satisfaction, not an instrument of revenge on a political opponent).

Note, too, that it is just as plausible that the National Security Agency and/or the Central Intelligence Agency have data on Trump in Russia. If Trump were in contact with Russians whom the NSA was monitoring then they would have ended up monitoring him, as well.

That is,if the worry is that foreign intelligence agencies could blackmail someone like Trump, why isn’t it equally worrying that the US government could? J. Edgar Hoover used to blackmail congressional representatives all the time.

The unusual thing here is that even if Russia had such video, it is difficult to see how they could damage Trump. The people who elected him knew that he had appeared in pornographic videos, liked to tour the dressing rooms of the Miss Teen contests when the contestants were naked, and gropes random women in public places. That he paid for a golden shower or two isn’t even the most disgusting thing in his closet (at least if it was paid for it was consensual). So I think if Russia threatened him with being outed, he could just brush them off. The evangelical ministers who encourage their flocks to vote Republican have decided that they are all about forgiveness when it comes to Trump. I wouldn’t have said this last year this time, but the guy is teflon on the right.

If Trump has a vulnerability with regard to Russia, it is far more likely to be financial. He kept going bankrupt (six times!) as a strategy to avoid paying creditors, and understandably real banks stopped wanting to lend to him. The Financial Times alleges that Trump then got in bed with very wealthy figures from, e.g., Kazakhstan, who loaned him money or licensed his name for, e.g., the Trump Soho, in which he was a partner with a shadowy Kazakh figure. But FT suggests that the quid pro quo was that he got them into the New York real estate market, which they then used for money laundering. Money earned from embezzling (say, from the Kazakh ministry of petroleum) or criminal activity needs to be laundered before it can be openly invested. The criminal claims that the ill-gotten funds are profits from an investment, e.g. The FT thinks Trump may have, knowingly or naively, facilitated this kind of activity. If it was knowingly, of course, that was a heavy duty crime.

Or there is the Washington Post‘s expose of Trump’s relationship with a Russian “businessman” whom the Post characterizes as possibly having links to organized crime and whom, the Post alleges, former business partners accuse of routinely threatening to kill them.

In fact, big business people often seal deals at strip clubs, and sex parties in St. Petersburg were likely to be sweeteners for a business deal. Only puritan Americans would think it was the sex party that was the important thing.

James S. Henry in The American Interest surveyed several cases of Trump’s sketchy financial relationships with Russian or Former Soviet Union Oligarchs. Henry doesn’t allege criminality in these relationships, though the accounts he gives heavily hint at it. And if there was ever a place where Honore de Balzac’s maxim in Le pere Goriot was true, it is post-Soviet lands. Balzac said, “the secret of great fortunes with no apparent explanation is a crime forgotten because it was well executed.” Mario Puzo paraphrased it to “behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

Mark Sumner at Daily Kos also rounds up these oligarch/ organized crime links.

So if Russia has a hold on Trump, I’d look at the business angle, myself. The idea that they could shame him by attacking his reputation for sexual propriety seems a little far-fetched.


Related video:

USA Today: “Intel chiefs told Trump that Russia targeted him”

40 Responses

  1. It just did not add up…Trumps rather colorful and sordid history with 3 wives and so many others, the admittance of groping, the shady business dealings, not releasing his taxes, and so much more we may never know, did NOT come out when Hillary’s emails did (and later it was admitted it was not relevant). Trumps rather sick fascination and devotion to Putin, and the fact that he never, ever, said a negative word about him, when he insulted and lied without hesitation, his fellow republicans, Hillary, Obama, even an ex beauty queen.
    Something stinks in Trumpland.

  2. You say, very correctly IMHO, that “So if Russia has a hold on Trump, I’d look at the business angle, myself. The idea that they could shame him by attacking his reputation for sexual propriety seems a little far-fetched.”

    I’d also say, the veracity of the accusation has been apparent from his behavior, not his words: his consistent defense of Putin and Russia every single time he has been forced to speak to it.

  3. The US intelligence agencies seem to be at the end of their rope if they think Trump can be discredited because he had golden showers while in Russia. Such an allegation might have worked during the Republican primary but at this stage of the game it only works to enhance his sexual prowess.

    What is becoming apparent is that the attempts to block Trump from engaging in detente with the Russians is NOT WORKING.

    The absurd allegation that the Russians tilted the election in Trump’s favor by releasing emails showing a high level conspiracy to block the populist Bernie Sanders seems to have gone nowhere. While Democratic party supporters leaped at the opportunity to save face by blaming the Russians instead of their own incompetence, it has done nothing to get Trump to give up on detente.

    Clearly the neocon plan to target Russia for regime change took a big hit when Hillary lost the election. And it didn’t help that the US was excluded from the Syrian peace talks after losing that war.

    Has anyone considered that it may be time to end the neocon’s “new cold war” regime-change strategy?

    It would save tons of money from being diverted to the already bloated military budget, free up trillions of dollars for infrastructure repairs, stimulate the stagnant economy and hey, it might even prevent a nuclear war.

    • I believe your views about Putin and Russia are hopelessly naive. They have shown to be ruthless and expansionist in Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, and Chechnya. Also, to think that Trump has a foreign policy based on detente with Russia for anyone’s benefit other than his own does not fit with his past practices. The man is totally self aggrandizing and I have not found one instance of where he has been altruistic. When asked what sacrifices he had made, the best he could come up with was he built a lot of great buildings. As Professor Cole pointed out yesterday, he is a self=centered narcissistic psychopath who cares only about himself. If he pushes for a rapprochement with Russia, it will only be because it benefits Trump and/or the Trump family.

      • The proof of the pudding will be whether or not Jabba pulls whatever U.S. missiles, removes them from Russia’s border – no matter how our NATO partners feel about it.

      • Gary, you might use the box upper right on the screen and insert ‘Georgia’ and ‘Ukraine’ to see some of the articles that have appeared on Informed Comment.
        That would give you a better picture of those two countries and their situations.

  4. I think it is one of Trump’s greatest strengths,
    that he is not capable of feeling shame.

    I wouldn’t want to be like him,
    but for who he is and how he operates,
    the idea that he is or could be ashamed of anything he has done is quite doubtful.

    • weird thinking since people with no conscience are called sociopaths who leave a trail of harm every place they goand with everything they do.
      that is not my idea of a great strength….and should never be viewed as such unless you are ok with what it brings

  5. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday however that the allegations had been “total bluff, an absolute fabrication, utter nonsense.”

    “The Kremlin has no compromising information on Trump. This report does not correspond to reality and is nothing but absolute fiction,” Peskov added.

    link to

    When I was young a familiar response to gossip about personal behaviour was that, it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you don’t do it public and frighten the horses. My grandmother also advised one young lady on the brink of a questionable relationship that it was one thing to take excursions to sin but quite another to live in it. In a society that has lost fear of the all seeing gods, the only restraint is the law which means either you get away with things or you get caught, and the principal thing is not get caught. As for financial shenanigans, I had once occasion to take advice from a senior tax counsel who interrupted me at one point with, Do not. Mr Wibberley, talk about ‘avoiding tax’, talk instead about ‘adopting methods that do not attract tax’.

    • hardly a reassuring defense that the accused gets off the hook just by claiming he didnt do it.
      seems you learned well from your grandmother….that getting CAUGHT is the problem…and NOT the crime/action.

      so…trump grabbing women (interesting too is what sticks in your mind…how WOMEN are the sinners) forcing his authority over them is not an issue.
      only the fact we are aware of it is the issue.
      i doubt your grandmother would be a candidate for the 2 dollar bill.

  6. You said: “(at least if it was paid for it was consensual)”

    No, this is not true. Please understand what human trafficking is all about. It is not based on consent.

    And how sad that the abuse of women is only a side attraction — women really have no value in this world, do we?

    • NO. human trafficking is a problem, but their are many sex workers who consent and like what they do. Abolitionists put out tons of propaganda conflating sex work with trafficking and slavery. These types of feminists join with liberals , conservatives, and other fake do-gooders to cause much harm to women in the sex business.
      Like the closure of Backpage. It will not help trafficking victims. But it has stopped income of thousands of women and made them less safe. And, of course, the Senate hearings on Backpage did not talk to a single sex worker.
      That’s the rule with the rescuers: never, ever listen to the women you’re “rescuing”.

  7. Carla

    Can you recommend journalism about Russia, global energy markets, and who would profit from lifting sanctions or restricting NATO?

    • Excellent question. I would like the that too. Also, what are the implications of a US-Russian alliance?

  8. America has been accused of decadence for many years. If I recall correctly Nikita Khrushchev was one of several prominent accusers. The accusation then may have been excessive but it seems more plausible now.

    “News” without supporting evidence should be regarded with great skepticism, but assuming it might be plausible would be justified.

  9. “(urolagnia is a fetish for sexual satisfaction, not an instrument of revenge on a political opponent).”

    I wouldn’t have though the two were mutually exclusive, especially in the PEEOTUS’s [sic] case.

  10. Given its history, Buzzfeed’s not a particularly trustworthy source of information. But yes, let’s please do follow the money. Trump’s steadfast refusal to conform with tradition and release his tax forms suggests he has lots to hide. Contrary to his absurd claim during this morning’s presser, it’s not just the press that’s interested in getting a look at the numbers. It’s the American people.

  11. Michele Engel

    Russia’s used that honey-pot set up for years,so I actually believe it. I, too, would rather they follow the money, but Republicans are far more distraught by sexual deviance than they are $$, conflict of interest, or corruption.

  12. So the guy who started birth certificates drama is being tarnished by unverified rumors?

    I am genuinely starting to believe in God.

  13. PEOTUS watersports, pussy-grabber sounds like the National Treasure the Electoral CEO College gave us contrary to the popular vote. He won’t last long.

  14. I did not vote for Trump, but having lived in the former USSR – it is hard to believe a businessperson goes there and does not know — the FSB is monitoring him or her left and right. Why would you engage in such behavior that could wind up on the pages of the media or worse? Maybe lower level functionaires go and don’t get this but a senior level person should understand the vulnerability

  15. “The people who elected him knew that he had appeared in pornographic videos, liked to tour the dressing rooms of the Miss Teen contests when the contestants were naked, and gropes random women in public places.”

    The point is well taken, but there is another aspect to it.

    I think it is safe to say that Trump is very vein, he even felt compelled to defend his “manhood” on the campaign stage. If a video was to show him less favorably than the mighty stud he imagines himself to be, he’d move heaven and hell to prevent it from being leaked.

  16. Would that Trump’s final ascension to power could be prevented. As a matter of substance he’s clearly unfit. Abd as a procedural matter I can’t see a way forward. How do we mobilize the Supreme Court in the remaining nine days? How can we expect THIS House of Representatives to present something to the Senate which can be acted upon? Well, we can’t. Don’t “we the people” deserve what we’re getting?

  17. For the time being I care more about undermining the reactionary plot in Washington and NATO to foment a new cold war with its very likely inevitable endpoint of a nuclear confrontation and very hot war. Russia is not Iraq and other non-nuclear third world states in the Middle East and elsewhere. And behind Russia would likely be China. Let their be entente – peace firmly realized at least, and at long last, in all of Europe before we may have to impeach this man! My guess is that even then impeachment would only be an attempt that would backfire on the Democrats and even the current growing progressive movement as the impeachment of Bill Clinton did on the GOP and their “contract for/on America”. Bernie Sanders’ declared intention and advice to progressives is the right course, not to be wildly obstructionist but to work with the new president in areas of agreement. 2020 will be the better time to get rid of Trump if he fails to “make America great again” as greatly as he keeps boasting.

    When all is said and done, Donald Trump in the White House is not going to be the threat of war as it would have been with Hillary, an outright militarist. And as cause of more sexual scandal with Bill right back there at her side. And there’s the huge and disgusting financial scandal concerning charity fraud brewing over their Foundation!

    • You clearly only see what you want to see.

      If you don’t have a problem with Trump inciting his rally crowd in Birmingham, Alabama to beat up a Black Lives Matter protester, then the only kind of peace you’re interested in is a world divided between racist dictators, each using hatred to keep the masses quiet.

      As Bella Abzug once said about the election of Richard Nixon – “We’re all niggers now.” I’ll take civil war instead.

  18. Want to publicly establish Donald Trump’s motivations and relationships? Follow the money, as they said nearly 45 years ago; Chasing lurid tales of gossip inevitably lead to dead ends and only gives fuel to Trump’s outbursts that the established media is superficially fascinated by the sensationalistic story and is inherently corrupt.

  19. “… The idea that they could shame him by attacking his reputation for sexual propriety seems a little far-fetched.” I think it’s weakness not impropriety, that the Strong Man’s followers will recoil from. To brag that you can grab women by the crotch when you please … that’s very different from a humiliation fetish, i.e. golden shower.

  20. If Trump hired prostitutes to piss on a bed because he knew that Obama and Michelle had previously slept in it, then he is a very sick and also a sadistic man.

    That disturbs me more than any financial misdealings.

  21. sex seems to be about the only thing that can perk up the ears of the addled american electorate.
    witness the reactions where 90% of remarks were only about a few sexual lines in 35 pages(which i read) and totally agree that IF whoever runs things…wants to bring down clearly isnt going to be very hard to do.

    • Watersports is only considered “sex” by those who enjoy such behavior. To a normal person including urine in sex play is disgusting and only fit for a Trump. PISSING on or receiving micturition is not sex but PERVERSION. Get it Right.

  22. Admitting that Russia might have either financial or sexual data on Trump to have some kind of leverage over him, the leaking of true of false information about the subject was a normal SS strategy. Now any information the Russians may have has become irrelevant… even if it is true because now every one will believe that it might be false once again… so the leaking was a correct SS decision… if they didn’t do it, they should be fired. This way they may defend the US.
    Regarding the WW IV (WW III was the defeat of Warsaw pact) Putin, a great leader in the words of Trump, has wan the war by placing a clown in the white house, already making the USA loose all the credit as the leader of the word. That’s unfortunate for the US, and in the short term for its allies. On the medium term it could be good because those allies will organise and will get independent from US umbrella… it remains to be seen if this will bring a more stable or unstable word.

  23. Regarding the undermining of the elections results…. it is time for Trump team to accept they have won the elections and the electoral process is closed. I think they still don’t believe that they have won. Please assume your victory and grow up to the task. It would be good for everyone… elections are over.

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