Trump continues to take us into uncharted territory. But the latest bombshells, relating to the FBI's secret counterintellligence investigation into whether Trump was an agent working in the Russian interest, are often mischaracterized, sometimes intentionally. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News asked the president, with a bit of a smirk on her face, if he had ever "worked" for the Russians. To her, the answer seemed beyond obvious. Trump a spy for the Russians? Ridiculous. In one sense, she was right.
The proper question is not whether Trump "worked" for the Russians as an agent within some formal arrangement; it's whether he was a Russian asset—someone over whom the Russians have been able to exert hidden influence. As one commentator put it, Trump is too undisciplined, impulsive and irrational for the Russians ever to even consider trusting him as a spy. But those same qualities, along with greed and a disdain for ethics and the law, make him a perfect candidate for a Russian asset. Over the past decades, he has surely provided them with plenty of kompromat.
Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, put the issue with waspish clarity. All the public evidence points to Trump being a Russian asset. The question is, is he participating wittingly, unwittingly or half-wittingly?
James West Davidson
Occasional thoughts on history, teaching, paddling and the outdoors