Monday, June 12, 2017

Trump Quid Pro Quo Alleged in Dossier

The Russian Connection is now white-hot, as calls for the Trump's impeachment grow in intensity.  The furor is fueled by the Steele Dossier complied by former British MI6 operative Christopher Steele for an anti-Trump political action committee. The dossier alleges that then candidate Trump agreed to refrain from criticizing the 2014 Russian intervention in the Ukraine if Russia agreed to feed the hacked Hillary Clinton and DNC emails to Wikileaks.  A confidential source told Steele that Russia hacked the DNC and leaked the documents to Wikileaks with the full knowledge and support of senior members of Trump's campaign organization.  Two Trump campaign representatives succeeded in tabling a Republican platform plank to provide Ukraine with "defensive" lethal weapons to fight insurgents backed by the Kremlin.  Platform language was changed from providing "lethal defensive weapons" to "providing appropriate assistance" after Trump's people objected.

Initially Trump's campaign rhetoric concerning Russia was tough and uncompromising.  But that tone changed after he hired Paul Manafort to be his campaign manager.  Manafort has business connections with the Kremlin, and he helped Viktor Yanukovitch, the Kremlin's choice, win the Ukraine presidency in 2010.  Records indicate that Manafort was slated to be paid $12.7 million for his performance.  The dossier details alleged offers by the Kremlin for sweetheart business deals that the candidate turned down.

The BBC reports that the dossier also contains compromising personal material about the President.  Supposedly he was filmed with a group of prostitutes in the presidential suite of Moscow's Ritz-Carlton hotel and also in St. Petersburg.  Apparently this "kompromat" prompted the CIA to launch its own counterintelligence task force to investigate the credibility of such claims in 2016*.  Penthouse magazine has offered a million for the hotel tape, if it exists.  Fake news or "polezni durak"?

*Beyond the sleaze is the possibility that Russians have a large amount of financial leverage over the Trump Organization.  In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. — the GOP nominee’s son and the VP for Development for The Trump Organization — told attendees at a real estate conference in New York City that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Americans need to know how much money has poured into The Trump Organization from Russia and from whom. Sergei Millian, the president of the U.S. Russian Chamber of Commerce and friend of Trump, claims in 2016 the figure is in the hundreds of millions.