Former CIA Dir.: Trump is afraid of Putin Kompromat

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Two former intelligence officials on Sunday more or less said openly that Trump is compromised by Russia.

Jake Tapper asked former CIA head John Brennan about Trump’s statement on Friday that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, and dissed intelligence and law enforcement professionals such as James Comey and James Clapper as “hacks.”

“JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think Mr. Trump knows that the intelligence agencies, specifically CIA, NSA and FBI, the ones that really have responsibility for counterintelligence and looking at what Russia does, it’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election.

And it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it, and also push back hard against Mr. Putin.

The Russian threat to our democracy and our democratic foundations is real. And I think his continuing to not say very clearly and strongly that this is a national security problem, and to say to Mr. Putin, we know you did it, you would have to stop it, because there are going to be consequences if you don’t.”

Then Tapper asked further about Trump’s amazing deference to Putin (since Trump defers to no one else), noting that Trump spoke of Putin as insulted by the allegation that he put his thumb on the till of the US election.

BRENNAN: Well, I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump’s interest in being flattered.

And, also, I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do or what might come out as a result of these investigations.

So, it’s very worrisome. And I think it sends a worrisome, very disturbing signal to our allies and partners who are concerned about Russian interference in their democratic processes as well.

So, it’s either naivete, ignorance or fear, in terms of what Mr. Trump is doing vis-a-vis the Russians.

Let us parse Brennan’s reply. He begins by saying that Trump is easily manipulated through stroking of his ego.

I’d just like to point out that you would never, ever want a president who is easily manipulated by foreign leaders.

But then Brennan went further. A second possibility is that Trump is intimidated by Putin.

That diction would suggest that Trump is a coward and lowers his eyes in acquiescence when Putin stares at him with that cold blue KGB gaze.

I’d just like to point out that you would never, ever want a president who
can be easily cowed.

And then Brennan did it. He actually came out with it. The third possibility is that Trump is afraid of what Putin might do if the investigation continues, or what might come out as a result of it.

The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency openly alleged the real possibility that the sitting president of the United States is being successfully blackmailed and that policy is being made as a result of Trump’s fear of exposure.

Brennan was clear that he has no proof that Trump is compromised.

But Brennan would not make this allegation unless he had at least circumstantial evidence of “kompromat” or compromising materials in the hands of Putin, of the release of which Trump is deeply afraid.

I’d just like to point out that you would never, ever want a president who is being actively blackmailed by a foreign power.

Trump clearly acts out of character when it comes to Putin. He does not care what his chief of staff John Kelly feels, when Trump goes off on him and vehemently dresses him down. He does not care about the feelings of NATO allies when he lambastes them as freeloaders and fools taking in too many refugees. He does not care about Japanese feelings when he accuses them of cowardice, at a moment when the US needs Tokyo in its dispute with North Korea.

Trump is, however, deeply worried about Putin’s feelings. And he trusts Putin more than he trusts his own security officials.

Brennan is telling us, as a career spy, that he sees behavior that can only be explained by Kompromat.

You see, Brennan gave three possibilities, that Trump is easily manipulated by flattery, or easily cowed, or compromised. The first is true but can’t account for the obsequiousness of Trump’s behavior toward Putin. The second is not true–Trump is like an enraged bull rampaging around an arena trying to gore everyone in sight. His typical response to attempts to make him back down is to explode.

So what Brennan is really saying is that there is actually only one possible explanation for Trump’s creepy and peculiar relationship to Putin.



Related video added by Juan Cole:

Ex-intelligence chiefs fire back at Trump criticism (Entire CNN interview)

18 Responses

  1. Thank you, thank you so much for pointing this out, Juan.

    It’s been so obvious, there is literally one person on this increasingly heated earth who Trump defers to and shows obsequious behavior to. And his name begins with P, and that rhymes with T, and that spells trouble (to reference a classic bit of American musical theater history).

  2. When Trump announced his tax plan he said, “My accountants tell me this bill will be very bad for me personally. But I want to do the right thing!” That was a bald face lie he only promotes his own self interest.

    Cowing to Putin is, for whatever reasons, in his own best interest.

    Kompromat…the word of the day.

  3. I think another factor might be that Putin is substantially smarter and world wise than Trump. Trump has not done anything in office that demonstrates the slightest understanding of the extremely complex organism we call civilization. Nor does he publicly indicate a need to study up. So as others have said, Putin gets by by flattering the huge ego and bullshitting the intellectual void (or joking about tapes he’s seen of the wild Moscow parties Trump has attended).

    • I agree with all except for one part. Trump does understand civilication in a significant way. He knows what furthers his avaricious hubris and what works against it. He knows who to intimidate and break down in order to advance it. He knows how to break down a person; see his business dealings for evidence of this. He’s now working to intimidate and break down the system and ethic that has mostly governed the world since the successful suppression of the fascist element by 1945. That fascist element is on the rise again, with Russia taking the lead. Trump is fine with that and wants to break down any opposition to greater authoritarian control in the U.S. and abroad. Just look at his behaviors and alliances. So Trump does have an understanding of the world, simplistic though it is. And he wants to co-lead the world back into authoritarianism. The Putin flattery is a sideshow, meant to distract from the breakdown of democratic participation and control within the U.S. It’s working currently.

    • Sherm – per your last sentence. Putin obviously has something very damaging on Donald J. Trump or someone close to him sufficient for our President to defer to Vladimir Putin without exception?

      Trump allowed his campaign for President to become a full-blown Russian intelligence asset with freelanced skullduggery for sale even when forewarned of compromise, officially.

      Donald Trump has now made himself and his followers unwitting de facto agents of Russia.

      Worthy of note: Previous Presidents have gotten on the ‘wrong side’ of the “intelligence community,” none benefited.

  4. Trump and a lot of folks on the far-right are being played by Putin, IN FACT –

    Russian hackers operate from DALLAS, TEXAS! Not Moscow or St. Petersburg.

    XBT Holding, with operations in Dallas, was instrumental in the hack of leaked Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats.

    XBT is remotely-run by a successful Russian tech startup expert, Aleksej Gubarev.

    link to

    So, Putin is correct in parsing his words “it was not a Russian State player” but it was private Russian enterprise which duped some dumb••• Texans into doing their dirty work for them.

  5. It’s very clear that Putin and Trump and the Republicans share the goal of the dissipation of American democracy (specific-voter voting rights reduction, diminishing non-fascistic democratic participation, oligarchic/plutocratic participation increasing, elimination of checks and balances, et al).

    Another Trump goal is to continue to hide his later-stage enrichment from Russian oligarchic and likely criminal sources and to continue and maximize his ability to do so.
    He needs to commandeer and neutralize American investigative and prosecutorial apparati to maintain his power, therefore.

    There may be other more personal reasons for Trump’s apparent toadyism to Putin, besides the shared white supremacist beliefs and fascistic tendencies, but mostly it’s no mystery whatsoever. Trump and the Republicans are in the process of forever altering what made America what it is, even the bad parts, though in Trump’s America the bad parts will only get worse, much worse.

  6. A thumb in the till is OK. A thumb on the scale is not. I believe the Russians tried to interfere, why wouldn’t they if they could? But Trump is something the American people have done to themselves

  7. There are many lines of evidence that Trump is compromised in his dealings with the Russian govt. But his obsequiousness towards Putin is probably the least of these indicators.

    Mueller’s investigation has already, just from what we know publically, discovered that Trump’s campaign received at least two sorts of stolen goods from Russia: e-mails illegally hacked, and the value of these e-mails as an unreported campaign contribution from a foreign power. Less clear, but probable and more compromising, the Trump business seems to have been involved for years in laundering money for friends of Putin.

    In contrast, to draw any conclusions at all from the words of a man who suffers from dementia with behavioral disturbance is to tread on very shaky ground. In answer to Brennan’s second point, of course Trump is easily cowed by anyone with any power, as Trump understands power. Trump was a bully even before he became demented, and the fact that he demeans everyone else on the planet does not in any way make it unexpected for him to be obsequious towards someone he sees as an equal, or from whom he wants something. He doesn’t demean people out of rage at them, but because he can, and treating others like dirt establishes that he is the alpha. But Trump understands that Putin is different from perhaps anyone else on the planet in this, that he has a source of state power that Trump cannot obviously undermine (as he can that of a Ryan or McConnell). Someone whose mind wasn’t so far gone into dementia would understand that in reality all the domestic and foreign actors he deals with have power that Trump cannot undermine, that they can get back at him if only subtly and in the long term. That’s why conventional politicians are so careful in word and deed, to avoid offense towards anyone. Trump’s mind no longer does subtle or long term, but in the case of Russia, not only is its power objectively greater than that of other foreign powers, but it is greater especially in Trump’s shrinking mental universe, thanks to all those years of profits and capitalization from money laundering for the Russian regime acting so powerfully to shore up the Trump business.

    Some of Putin’s power over Trump may indeed be compromat, but you don’t have to invoke any sort of compromat to understand why Trump doesn’t try to bully Putin, but instead tries to stay on his good side.

    And if you look at this from Putin’s point of view, even if it’s true and Putin has compromat that he threatens Trump with, it’s not at all clear that a blackmailer in Putin’s position would want Trump to be openly deferential. That public obsequiousness compromises Trump’s ability to act favorably towards Russia on substantive matters. Repealing the Magnitsky Act, for example, might have been accomplished if it were something that could be done in a backroom deal, but Trump makes it less and less possible to get that done covertly every time he flatters Putin in public.

    That said, perhaps Putin is as demented as Trump, and actually prizes making people grovel in public over getting anything of substance from them. Not impossible, of course, not even really improbable, but there are better and more direct means of understanding Trump’s and Putin’s behavior than all of this psychological speculation. Let’s stick with following the money, if for no other reason than to avoid the impression that the psychiatric speculation is the best our side has.

  8. You have already heard – and doubtless will hear eve more – criticism of the intelligence community’s findings. The argument boils down to, `Well, you blew it badly on Iraq so why on earth ought we believe you now.’ Painting with too broad a brush leads to sloppy results. Yes, US intelligence failed in Iraq. That doesn’t mean that they’re brain-dead and got it wrong here. What with the recent revelations by Twitter, Google and Facebook, the evidence of a Russian campaign to sway last year’s election in Trump’s favor is very persuasive. At this point, nobody’s claiming that Trump ordered his subordinates to collude with Putin’s KGB operatives. But let’s not allow the past to color our reading of the the evidence that’s being brought to light today.

    • How quickly we forget. The US intelligence agencies DID NOT “blow it” on Iraq. Their conclusions were that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons, nor a significant nuke program. Iraq was in compliance with, and permitted, IAEA inspections. This didn’t fit with the Cheney/Bush narrative, so data was cherry-picked, stove-piped, and distorted to make a bogus case for intervention.

      As Mueller’s investigation keeps illustrating, the intelligence community was right about Russian interference, too. And complicity looks even more likely.

  9. What hasn’t been suggested is that Trump doesn’t want to poison his opportunities for investments in Russia once his term as President is over.

  10. Juan: This is an old acquaintance, David Cook, more or less stumbling on this piece from a Facebook scan. Made me realize I miss you and your thinking. So please get me back on your email newsletter. I just turned 89!

  11. Except for bravely shoving aside the prime minister of Montenegro, “tough guy” trump folds like a broken ladder when actually faced by another foreign leader. It began on his first trip to Mexico City where he wilted before Enrique Pena Nieto. All that aside, it’s very obvious that Vlad holds a very special sway over trump. He holds the tools of castration.

  12. How much kompromat does Russia have on the GOP?
    Why is the GOP so obsequious to Russia?
    How much Russian funding goes to dark money PACs?

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