Is a Russian diplomat a credible voice in American politics?
In the Russia-Trump imbroglio let us be clear. We are now months into it. A dozen or so culprits have been fingered, some being actually quite amusing. You will be seeing more of the fat British music promoter, Rob Goldstone, who has been photographed wearing a baseball hat emblazoned with the letters “CUNTY” on it. He is too good to be ignored. There will be more about the scabrous “dossier” and its Rabelaisian accounts of our president in Moscow that has apparently been taken quite seriously by the FBI. This in itself deserves an independent investigation. However, still no crime has been unearthed, not even a misdemeanor, not even a DUI.
Possibly someone will make something of Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower visit with some shadowy Russians led by the leggy Natalia Veselnitskaya. Yet President Donald Trump’s enemies are putting great deal of stock in the law governing foreign contacts and in its insistence that Trump Jr. came away with something “of value” from the Russians. Prosecutors tell me that the law has never been interpreted to include mere “gossip,” and Donald Jr. has said it was uninteresting gossip at that. I would have thought that Rob Goldstone could have at least made the gossip interesting.
Now the Trump critics are trotting out more mysterious reports of Attorney General Jeff Sessions supposedly discussing the 2016 political campaign and matters of public policy with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. Reportedly Kislyak was communicating with his Moscow office and some intelligence sleuths got word of it. Thanks to the intelligence sleuths, the Washington Post published the report. Our Attorney General of course denied the conversations took place. Could Kislyak have been exaggerating? Since when did Americans take a Russian’s word against an American’s word? Where did this intelligence come from? Were the Russians making things up for American domestic consumption? Was an American intelligence agency responsible for the leak? How accurate was the leak? Perhaps we should ask the jolly Mr. Goldstone.
One thing can be said with certainty. The Russians have been given a powerful role to play in American politics. And who gave them that role? Well, it appears that the Russians have been given that role by the Democrats and by their co-conspirators in the Mainstream Media (MSM). In the whole long saga of the Cold War, with spies on both sides and propaganda being produced on a daily basis, no Democrat ever thought to assist the Russians in toying with our domestic politics, not even George McGovern, not even Teddy Kennedy — though it is now a matter of the historic record that Teddy tried. Read Paul Kengor’s The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.
Today, however, Vladimir Putin with Ambassador Kislyak as his sole aide can edge American politics toward chaos with but a few phony communiqués. They have already done it with the Attorney General. They can do it with the dossier, and they can dream up further fictitious dossiers. Ambassador Kislyak can even fake a few more revelations to his Moscow office.
Why not fake one of my favorites revelations, one already on the public record. On May 17 The American Spectator ran the story about former FBI Director James B. Comey being caught on government surveillance cameras blowing his nose on White House curtains. We reported that Attorney General Sessions had received the tapes and was having them tested in government labs to see if any long-term damage had occurred. Comey could be prosecuted for destroying government property. Some readers might have thought we were pulling official Washington’s leg, but then two days later in a front-page report the New York Times got into the act. It reported that Comey was caught hiding from President Trump amongst the curtains of the White House Blue Room. When the President summoned him from the curtains Comey came forward as the Times reported “with an abashed look on his face.” I cannot make these things up, and neither will Putin and Kislyak.
Yet what role is being played by the American intelligence community? Are they responsible for leaking information — some of it obviously idiotic — to the press? Are these agencies contributing to the comic effect that pervades official Washington? It seems to me they are. My old friend, mentor, and lawyer, Bill Casey, who headed Ronald Reagan’s CIA, always said that he ran the best, most serious shop in Washington. Bill, times have changed. In Washington today, Rob Goldstone has found a place.
Amb. Kislyak welcoming Pres. Putin to New York (2015) (Kremlin.ru/Creative Commons)