The United States Of Russia

It’s an entire marionette show, the strings all held by Putin.

Vladimir Putin has acquired the ultimate human asset: President Donald Trump. As a bonus, he’s even nabbed the highest ranking members of Trump’s administration. It’s an entire marionette show, the strings all held by Putin’s expansionist KGB state.

Putin had a nearly 20-year-long career in the KGB as a foreign intelligence offer and, later, served among the ranks of KGB’s elite administration. His tenure there was essential in shaping his leadership style as president.

Recently, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, stated that he felt Russia “absolutely meddled” in the 2016 election. Yes, Russia may not have actively hacked into our computerized election systems and changed the votes. But what they did was far more disturbing and showcases Putin’s KGB style of leadership. In intelligence, the steps in acquiring a human asset is to “spot, develop, assess, and recruit.” Putin did exactly this not just with Trump and his administration, but with Americans as a whole. There is always a certain amount of selfishness and ego that drives most politicians. Fortunately, though, the desire to feed that gaping ego stops when politicians are asked to serve a country other than that to which they have pledged their loyalty. Putin, in recruiting Trump and the key members of his administration, hit a formerly unseen jackpot in American politics. Other than to his family, his business, and his fortune, Trump seemingly has no allegiances: not to his country, not even to his supporters. Throw his ego into this mix, and you have an A+ Russian asset.

I am not convinced that Trump consciously agreed to work for Russia. Let’s remember this is a man with an ego as vast and unfillable as the Grand Canyon.

It appears to me that some members of Trump’s administration know they are working for Russia, while others do not. Michael Flynn’s acceptance of money from both Turkey and Russia is well documented. This is proof of a willing Russian asset. The same goes for Jared Kushner, especially in light of the recent reports of undisclosed meetings with Ambassador Kislyak, and the setting up of back channels with the Russians. You can’t be a better asset than one who sets up back channels. In the spy world and politics, a back channel is a secondary, or covert, route for the passage of information. It is safe to assume that nearly every president and administration before this one has used them. The issue here is that members of Trump’s team were setting up back channels with Russia before he took office as a way for Trump and his administration to communicate with the Russians without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community. That is a back channel of an entirely different nature. To say it is highly unusual is an understatement.

That Jared Kushner has a security clearance is simply beyond me, beyond all logic. To work at the CIA, and to serve in a presidential administration, one must undergo an arduous and lengthy background check. During the process all relationships and meetings with foreign nationals are disclosed. This part of the background check is taken very seriously by the government. Contact with foreign nationals isn’t a disqualifier for being hired or getting a security clearance, however, the CIA thoroughly investigates each and every encounter to make sure no one working in any capacity is acting as an agent of a foreign government. My colleagues and I readily disclosed ex-boyfriends, people we met on study abroad programs, etc. One of my colleagues lost her job at the CIA for failing to disclose a contact during her background check; a contact that was later discovered.

I am not convinced that Trump consciously agreed to work for Russia. Let’s remember this is a man with an ego as vast and unfillable as the Grand Canyon. He’d never want to think he was working for anyone but himself. But Vladimir Putin, like you and I, knows this. Putin has spent the better part of a decade observing Trump and his behavior. That’s what good spies do when they’re getting ready to recruit. But whether Trump is aware of it or not, the fact remains, he is working for Russia.

I cannot fault another country for trying to recruit human assets within our government. That is the job of foreign intelligence services. The difference between the recruitment that occurred with this administration and attempts at recruitment with other administrations, is that Trump and his team seemed to have had no understanding as to how human intelligence works. And this lack of understanding at even the most basic level, made them the perfect victims. Surely Putin, the man who rides horses while exposing his bare chest, had tried to recruit other presidential candidates over the years. I doubt any of them, ever fell so easily and blindly into his hands.

It is, of course, ironic that there was so much nativist and nationalist rhetoric that surrounded the Trump campaign. Those who were chanting “Make America Great Again” and “America for Americans” have unwittingly executed a plan to do exactly the opposite of that. Trump’s America is Putin’s America. It no longer belongs to you and I. Let’s take it back.