Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture
2018-08-01 13:18:30 -
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By Charles Laffiteau

On 16 July, the world witnessed something the likes of which we have never before seen in the post-war era. What was most notable about US President Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin was the fact that for the first time in history, an American president told the world that the word of an ex-KGB agent was more believable than the overwhelming evidence gathered by America’s foreign and domestic intelligence agencies. So it should come as no surprise that a majority of Americans also now believe Russia has “compromising information” on President Trump.

A recent Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted immediately after the summit revealed that over 54 per cent of American voters believed President Trump was not acting in their best interests during the course of his public and private meetings with Putin. By a margin of 73 per cent to eight per cent, these same American voters said that the summit had been a success for Russia. But just 27 per cent of voters judged the summit meeting to have been a success for the United States while 52 per cent of Americans said they considered the Trump-Putin meeting to have been a failure for America.

Furthermore, even though 87 per cent of self-identified Republicans still approved of Trump’s performance as president in a recent Washington Post- ABC News poll, just two-thirds of those same Republicans approved of the way he handled the meeting with Putin. Moreover, only a slim majority (51%) of Trump’s Republican supporters approved of him casting doubt on American intelligence agencies. In other words, Trump’s performance in Helsinki did not go over well with many of Trump’s supporters.

Not surprisingly, President Trump’s Helsinki visit was universally panned by Democratic lawmakers throughout the US, as well by many former intelligence officials who had served in the Democratic Obama and Clinton and Republican Bush administrations. Only eight per cent of Democrats approved of Trump’s handling of the Helsinki summit, while just 30 per cent of independent voters approved compared to 46 per cent against. More than 68 per cent of Democrats and 38 per cent of independents also said Trump went too far in appeasing Putin.

With respect to the claims from American intelligence agencies that Russia is still trying to interfere in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned. Even 34 per cent of Republican voters said they were somewhat or very concerned about such interference, and 31 per cent feel the Trump administration should be doing more about it.

Over two-thirds of all voters — and more than two-fifths of Republicans — consider Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections to be an attack on American democracy. But what I found most interesting in the Quinnipiac poll was the number of Americans who believe Russia has compromising information about Trump. On the heels of Trump’s televised press conference with Putin, 51 per cent of Americans now believe this. Furthermore, among the older white voters with no college degree who comprise Trump’s base, nearly half (46%) now believe Russia has something on Trump.

This raises the proverbial $64,000 question: does Russia indeed have compromising information about Donald Trump? While I would hate to think that Russia is in possession of any kind of evidence or information that could be used to influence President Trump’s actions, the fact that we are even discussing the possibility that an American president has been compromised by a foreign power is unprecedented in our nation’s modern history. But when you watch President Trump’s Helsinki news conference, you see Trump nodding in approval while Putin is denying interfering in the 2016 election.

There are several possible explanations for Trump’s fawning behaviour whenever he is in Putin’s presence. One is that there is some element of truth in the two separate dossiers compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and former journalist Cody Shearer. Agents working for the FBI and the Mueller investigation have reviewed both reports and followed up on investigative leads provided by them. One thing both reports have in common is the allegation that in 2013, Trump was compromised by participating in lewd acts in a five-star Moscow hotel.

Another, even more sinister possibility is that Russia first snared Trump in its net back in July 1987, when he stayed in the Lenin Suite of the National Hotel during his first visit to Moscow. Is anyone so naïve as to think that suite wasn’t bugged? Given Trump’s alleged penchant for attending parties where cocaine and underage girls were prevalent, one can only imagine what the KGB might have on him. 

Even if this stuff isn’t true, it is a fact that after American banks stopped loaning him money in the 1990s, it was Russian cash that bailed out many of the Trump Organization’s real estate investments. Perhaps the answers lie somewhere in the conversations Michael Cohen recorded? Stay tuned…

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.
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