Nine Unorganized Thoughts on the CIA-Russia-Trump Mess

1. This is a mess. Let’s just start there. This is a goddamn unholy mess. A humungo fucking deal. We need to chase this one into the ground.

2. The intelligence community needs to lay all of its cards out on the table. A few anonymous leaks to the Washington Post and New York Times at this point serve no purpose but to sow chaos. We’ve been down this road with anonymous intelligence leaks to major newspapers accusing foreign powers of grave misdeeds before (Give me “Rhymes With Shmaluminum Shmubes” for $400, Alex). What do they know? What don’t they know? How strong is the case?

3. The CIA and the FBI are clearly in conflict with one another. The nature and breadth of that conflict is unclear, but during the election the FBI saw fit to leak a week before the election that there were “no clear ties” between Trump and Russia and that the hacks were non-partisan offensives, meant to sow discord and distrust in our electoral process. The former assessment is, in retrospect, immaterial. The ties don’t need to be there in order for Russia to have wanted him to get elected (though how much Trump knew/knows is material). It’s the latter assessment that the Washington Post and New York Times leaks challenge. However, when only one campaign and party fall victim to the espionage, I’m curious though how one can seriously argue that the attacks were non-partisan; especially if, as the New York Times reports, the RNC was hacked as well, but their data was not released. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but…it’s suspect to me. I want to hear the logic.

4. The basic assumption of many analysts is that the President-elect is somehow beholden and subservient to Putin’s interests, that Putin “has something” on him. Yes, that would be a nightmare. But I would like to propose another theory, which would be equally nightmarish and is, in my mind, equally plausible. What if Putin’s hold on Trump is merely psychological? There’s no anvil hanging over Trump’s head, no “blackmail”, no “there” there, just Putin has been really nice to him and made him feel like a big shot, so Trump is deferential to him because he has the emotional intelligence and maturity of a middle schooler. What if, amidst all this talk of him being “Putin’s puppet”, Trump feels the need to lash out and assert his dominance over Putin, setting off a geopolitical dick-swinging contest between two nuclear superpowers (or, you know, Cold War Part Deux).

5. It’s impossible not to view the decision-making process of every institution, from the White House to Congress to the intelligence communities, without the lens of until 9 pm on 11/8, nobody thought he was going to win. Nobody. We got a perfect storm. The conversation may well have been, “He isn’t going to win anyway, why serve Russia’s cause by undermining faith in our elections?” So I’m willing to take a wait and see approach before I make judgments on the character and patriotism of our leaders.

6. That being said, just the notion that it’s in the realm of possibility that Republican Party officials sold the country out to a hostile foreign power in order to win an election is…troubling.

7. Even before last night, during the election, it was abundantly clear that Russia was trying to influence our elections. The intelligence community confirmed it. Hell, it was a topic at he third debate. What we’re getting into now is a potential cover-up. How many people knew the Russian government was working to undermine our democracy and chose to ignore it?

8. If this is real, what we have on our hands is a constitutional crisis. How can the Electoral College install a man who, besides for being disastrously uninformed and unfit for the job, seems to be aided and abetted by a foreign power? On the other hand, how can the Electoral College decide to the ignore the will of over 60 million voters and supersede our political system and the people’s judgment with their own?

9. To quote one Hercules Mulligan, “We in the shit now, somebody’s gotta shovel it”.