As long as suspicion has surrounded President Donald Trump regarding his secret ties to Russia—that is, every day of his presidency—lurid rumors have swirled about what unpleasant things the Kremlin might know about the Oval Office’s current occupant. In particular, tabloid-worthy speculation has it that the president’s unseemly personal habits were caught on video during his November 2013 visit to Moscow.
This, of course, is the notorious “pee-pee-tape” floated by Christopher Steele, the former British spy whose 2016 dossier has been the source of so much gossip and controversy in our nation’s capital. As I’ve previously explained, there’s no reason to doubt that the Russians indeed possess compromising information on Trump, given the many trips to that country he’s made over the last 31 years, but scandalous adult videos are perhaps the least of the president’s worries when it comes to Kremlin kompromat.
It’s Trump’s shady business dealings and how they connect to powerful Russians that constitute the real scandal here. While it’s likely that the president has had some sort of less-than-above-board relationship with Moscow’s intelligence agencies for many years, as I recently elaborated, a Bondian secret agent he certainly is not. KremlinGate is fundamentally a long-term financial-cum-influence scandal with an element of espionage thrown in—not the other way around.
That said, during the presidential campaign, Team Trump made multiple hush-hush outreaches to the Kremlin, most of them inept and bumbling, which raise glaring questions for anyone versed in counterintelligence. None of these clandestine parleys has gotten more attention than the June 9, 2016 meeting held in Trump Tower in Manhattan between a top Team Trump delegation (including Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort, Trump’s then-campaign manager who has an inordinate degree of dubious Kremlin links) and several Russians, led by Natalya Veselnitskaya, a lawyer known in Moscow for her links to Kremlin power circles.
Read the rest at The Observer …