It has not yet been established that Trump or his entourage were turned by the Russians. But Trump and his team were easy prey, according to an expert.
To get someone to betray their country, an intelligence officer looks for vulnerabilities to exploit and these are summed up as MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego, Alex Finley, a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, explained. President Trump was easy “easy prey for Putin” just because of his ego.
“How do you get someone to do something they should not do?,” Finley asks in Politico. “Generally, an intelligence officer looks for a person’s vulnerabilities and explores ways to exploit them. It usually comes down to four things, which—in true government style—the CIA has encompassed in an acronym, MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego. Want to get someone to betray his country? Figure out which of these four motivators drives the person and exploit the hell out of it.”
“From an intelligence point of view, the people surrounding Trump, and Trump himself, make easy targets for recruitment,” Finley wrote, noting that he’s not suggesting these people have definitely been recruited. He goes down the list of Trump’s entourage, citing their weakness/es. Manafort: Money, Flynn, Money, Ideology, Ego, Kushner: Money, Coercion, Trump, Jr: Money, Ego and then Donald Trump: Ego. Just ego. That’s it.
“Ego is clearly the best way to get Trump to do anything. The Saudis certainly understood this, feting him with gold and orbs and displaying his enormous portrait on the side of a hotel, right next to the king’s portrait. The Saudis had this man in the palm of their hands, hence Trump’s pro-Saudi stance since the trip, despite his campaign rhetoric shouting down the kingdom.
Trump’s ego wanted to win and, he figured, everyone else wanted him to win, too. He was under the impression that everyone loved him and appreciated his greatness. Of course everyone wanted to help him win. If he accepted help from Russia, it’s possible he didn’t realize there was anything wrong with doing so. Why wouldn’t they help him win, he might have thought, and why shouldn’t he accept that help? For an experienced chekist like Putin, manipulating his ego is almost too easy.”
Donald Trump believes his own PR, which makes him so easy to manipulate. This is why the completely false Republican talking point that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians (so she could lose?) wouldn’t even make sense if she had won. It was well known that Putin was afraid of Hillary Clinton, and wanted revenge for what he saw as her interfering in his election. Clinton was not someone Putin could manipulate; quite the opposite.
It took a neophyte, out of his element, with a puffed up, sensitive and vulnerable ego, to fall for Putin’s outstretched hand.
Let me repeat: It has not yet been established that Trump or his entourage were turned by the Russians. What we call collusion is actually conspiracy in legal terms, which is hard to prove and might not ever be proven about Trump and his campaign entourage.
But it has been established that his campaign had contact with the Russians who were offering quid pro quo, it has been established that Donald Trump and members of his campaign lied about these meetings, it has been established that Donald Trump directed the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails before the DNC hacks were published by Wikileaks, it has been established that members of Trump’s entourage were corresponding with Wikileaks, it has been established that the Trump campaign got the RNC to change their platform to a more pro-Russia stance during the convention, it has been established that Russia did act to boost Donald Trump during the election in many very powerful ways, including manipulating the American voters with viral fake news on social media and using social media to smear Hillary Clinton from the (pretend) left and right.
I wrote about how Donald Trump’s ego made him vulnerable to Russian operatives before the election. It’s not a new concept, but it matters more now because he is the President and because it is becoming increasingly clear, due to evidence of more and more contacts with the Russians, that Trump and/or members of his entourage were in fact turned by the Russians to be used to betray their own country.
Trump’s own behavior as President is practically screaming that he is compromised. To ignore his signals is just as irresponsible as it is to jump to conclusions about conspiracy without evidence. He has, for example, tried to undermine the sanctions against Russia for interfering in our election, he had an Oval Office meeting with the Russians the day after he fired Comey, Trump allowed a photographer for a Russian state-owned news agency into the Oval Office where listening devices could have been planted, and Trump had a hand in drafting a misleading statement about his son’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer with strong Kremlin and intelligence links.
The very real possibility that Trump or a member of his entourage was turned to be used to betray their country is a BFD if ever there were one, because Trump is sitting in the White House acting as President right now, surrounded by many of these people.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
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 is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.