OK, people, as Rachel Maddow explained Friday evening, this Russia Trump story is a very big deal, picture the Oroville Dam spillway crumbling at warp speed.
“Since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM (Situation Room),” a Senior Pentagon intelligence official is quoted as saying. Adding, “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point.”
This shrieking crumb, so quietly laid down, was provided by security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John Schindler, who dropped a few more trails leading to alarm Sunday in his Observer column.
In terms of the Trump-compromised-by-Russia dossier that gathered steam with further corroboration on Friday, Schindler, based on his conversations with the intelligence community, put a finer point on what parts of the dossier were confirmed.
It is a fact that senior Russian officials conspired to assist Trump’s win, “Now SIGINT confirms that some of the non-salacious parts of what Steele reported, in particular how senior Russian officials conspired to assist Trump in last year’s election, are substantially based in fact.”
Citing Spicer’s dodge of a denial, courtesy of that Trumpian charge of “fake news” aimed at CNN, Schindler pointed out that calling a report “fake news” is not a denial.
Schindler says the report “is damning for the administration.” This could mean that there is evidence that Trump or someone in his administration conspired with Moscow. It seems to suggest something more than the idea that Trump has been compromised, because that doesn’t seem specifically damning to the administration.
The former NSA analyst explained, “None of this has happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow wasn’t something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even considered a possibility until a few months ago.”
We are in uncharted waters here.
Because of these concerns and because President Trump doesn’t even bother to show up for briefings sometimes, and is sending the already disgraced Flynn, some agencies worry about the Trump White House’s inability to keep secrets and so they are no longer sharing some of the intel.
“In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office.”
He also touched on the blatant incompetence of this administration, “Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration—not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump—that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust.”
There is good reason to fret over Trump’s inability to guard even the most basic of classified information, as last Friday he left a classified bag with the key in it on his desk while non-cleared people were in his office.
Schindler corroborated what our editorial board suspected (and why we didn’t run any of the salacious accusations in the dossier), “As I’ve previously explained, that salacious dossier is raw intelligence, an explosive amalgam of fact and fantasy, including some disinformation planted by the Kremlin to obscure this already murky case.”
The dossier corroborated the more damning and less salacious bits, at least in part.
What appears to be happening is exactly what I have been predicting. That is, given the Republican cowardice (I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and surmise that many of them are also compromised by Putin, but still – patriotism anyone) in light of Trump’s Russian connections, there would be no one left to save this country but the intelligence communities.
Schindler, in fact, warned Republicans to get on the bus before it’s too late, “Republicans on the Hill who would prefer that the White House stop lying to the public about its Kremlin links ought to get behind Schiff’s initiative before the scandal gets worse.”
There are two issues at stake: Is Donald Trump compromised by Russia and did the United States President conspire with Russia to impact the U.S. election.
So far, we have a yes to the first. That in and of itself puts our country in danger and means that Donald Trump can’t be trusted to put America first.
I suspect there is at least a dim yes to the second, or the IC wouldn’t be reminding Trump that they know. They know. For God’s sake, man, THEY KNOW.
The security expert also warned the Trump administration (yet again), “Our spies have had enough of these shady Russian connections—and they are starting to push back.”
I’m no spy and I have no spy connections. Given that caveat, even I have seen what looks to be a warring drop of warnings from the Kremlin to Trump and from the United States Intelligence Communities to Trump.
The Kremlin lets something leak that could harm Trump, possibly to keep him in line or warn him of what they have. Our IC tries to warn Trump with a leaking drop that isn’t exactly hard to read at this point.
The message is clear. Get your act together, put some non-Russian hands on the wheel, put America first, or else.
I suggest the intelligence community break this threat down to its most basic, second-grade level in hopes that the Trump administration finally grasp that they aren’t going to win this one.
It is only a matter of when and for what, not if.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.