There are two very different narratives about Donald Trump’s first twelve months in the White House. From one perspective, Trump’s presidency has been illegitimate, the result of Vladimir Putin’s interference in America’s 2016 presidential race. This version of events is referred to as Russiagate. In a very different scenario—we might call it Deepstategate—Donald Trump is the modern-day populist outsider who has been ambushed by the Intelligence Community, the Department of Justice and key members of the Obama administration acting in concert with the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the mainstream media. All the two “gates” have in common is a conviction that American democracy has been sabotaged by misconduct “worse than Watergate”.
If the November 2016 election was stolen by the usurper-in-chief with the connivance of the Russians, then the reality of a booming economy during the first year of his tenure can be discounted. The creation of 1.7 million new jobs, an unemployment rate that fell to 4.1 per cent, the lowest in seventeen years, and the greatest stock-market rally in America’s history become mere background noise. That is why Russiagate remains critical for the Democrats. Were any of the salacious contents of Fusion GPS’s “Steele dossier” to be corroborated—for example, the engagement of prostitutes in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton—it would be curtains for Trump. He would stand condemned not only as a reprobate but as a dupe who allowed himself to be co-opted by the FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency. An exposé of this kind would also explain the motivation for President Putin’s alleged intervention in the presidential election. This could be reasonably described as “worse than Watergate”, since both wrongdoing and a foreign power were involved. No wonder Nancy Pelosi has displayed little enthusiasm for premature impeachment resolutions. The real showdown awaits the moment Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts Donald John Trump for colluding with the FSB.
This essay appears in the latest Quadrant.
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David Corn, of the progressive magazine Mother Jones, made the earliest public reference to the Steele dossier on October 31, 2016. Author of The Lies of George W. Bush and Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor and the Tea Party, Corn was doubtless considered a reliable conduit by whoever provided him with a copy of the thirty-five-page report. Corn withheld Christopher Steele’s name from his article, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump”, but endorsed the reliability of the author of the report: “a senior US government official not involved in the case but familiar with the former spy tells Mother Jones that he has been a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government”. Corn acknowledged the Steele dossier had been funded by “a client allied with Democrats”, but it would be a full year before the client’s full identity became public knowledge: Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
Ken Bensinger, Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs of BuzzFeed News went a step further than David Corn by publishing the Steele dossier in its entirety on January 10, 2017, just days before Trump’s inauguration. Although Bensinger et al admitted the report contained obvious errors and that none of the compromising material had been verified, they nevertheless posted the following “research” online: “According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB.” BuzzFeed News justified its action in terms of helping Americans to “make up their minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government”. A little disingenuous, perhaps, given the record of BuzzFeed as an unapologetic Trump-hater.
In the first instance, the idea that the Kremlin cultivated Donald Trump over the previous five years in anticipation of him succeeding Barack Obama at the White House always seemed a little fanciful. Not until the middle of 2015 was Trump’s name even mentioned as a challenger in the Republican primaries. Even then he was the joke candidate. As late as November 2015, Nate Silver, the boy-genius of presidential-election punditry, evaluated Donald Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican nominee—not president but just the Republican nominee—as “higher than 0 but considerably less than 20 per cent”. Silver, in the lead-up to the election, judged the possibility of Trump defeating Clinton at between 15 and 17 per cent—closer to the mark, admittedly, than the New York Times pollster model at 8 per cent and the Huffington Post at 4 per cent. For the Kremlin to have wagered on the rise and rise of Donald J. Trump as far back as 2011 involves an implausible prescience on its part.
Yet another problem with Russiagate: if Vladimir Putin wanted “his man” to win the 2016 US election, why did he allow top-secret material originating from within the FSB, the intelligence arm of the Kremlin, to fall into the hands of those carrying out “opposition research” for the Clinton campaign? Lee Smith, writing in Tablet magazine, credibly argues that Christopher Steele’s “sources” in the Russian government were “unlikely to exist separate from Russian government control”. It raises the prospect that (a) aspects of the dossier were the product of a Kremlin disinformation campaign or (b) elements of the dossier were contrived by Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS.
There is something newsworthy about the assertion by both Mother Jones and BuzzFeed News that the dossier was in the possession of the intelligence community before the election. That it was “circulated at the highest levels of the US government” bestows upon the dossier—in the first instance, at least—a degree of credibility. It certainly provided the mainstream media with the imprimatur to frame Trump’s aspirant New Détente with Russia as the sordid outcome of Putin possessing compromising information on his American counterpart. General-readership magazines such as Vanity Fair have blithely published an endless succession of hostile stories with headlines like “Why Russia Loves Trump” and “The Terrifying Truth Behind the Trump-Russia Mess”.
Both Russiagate believers and sceptics alike agree the dossier “circulated at the highest levels of the US government” throughout the second half of 2016. Take the case of Carter Page, energy consultant and foreign policy analyst, who gave a graduation speech at Moscow’s New Economic School in July 2016 while serving as an assistant foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. A month later, the Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (a Democrat) wrote to FBI Director James Comey “asking him to investigate Page’s possible part in coordinating an illicit alliance between Putin and Trump”. A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton, according to a report at the time by Josh Rogin in the Washington Post, characterised the likelihood of meetings between “Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin’s inner circle” as “chilling”. However, Rogin himself, no Trump sympathiser, described the incident as a beat-up:
Page is an easy target for Reid and the Clinton campaign. He’s a relatively unknown, mid-level oil consultant who has business ties to Russia and happens to believe that U.S. policy in Russia, including economic sanctions, should be re-examined. But the likelihood Page is the centre of a Kremlin-Trump conspiracy is extremely low. He is simply not senior enough to play that role for either side. In its zeal to fuel the Trump-Putin connection story, the Clinton campaign and Reid have gone beyond the facts to attack Page, and the Trump campaign apparently decided to throw him under the bus as the heat rose.
Luke Harding, a Guardian journalist and author of Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, is also no apologist for Donald Trump, and not dismissive about the contents of the dossier either. What makes his writing intriguing is the background he provides to Harry Reid’s missive to FBI Chief James Comey, sent in August 2016, demanding an FBI investigation into a treasonous liaison between Putin and Trump. The “disturbing” information prompting Senate Minority Leader Reid to contact Comey turns out to be the Steele dossier or, to put it frankly, Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s research.
Harding tells us he was contacted in October 2016 by a member of the Clinton campaign. Someone in the team promised him FSB-certified intelligence on Trump:
In October an email written by a person in the Clinton camp reached my inbox. It set out some of the unproven allegations against Trump, including sex with prostitutes in Moscow. The email said the claims came from a source inside the FSB.
This, again, raises the question: if Donald Trump had been President Putin’s candidate, why did Putin permit “a source inside the FSB” to feed the Clinton campaign explosive material on Trump? In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, discloses Harding, journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post, Daily Beast, CNN, Mother Jones and Reuters sat around “in glossy conference rooms” and on other occasions “in the corners of pubs over warm ale”—in New York, Washington and London—wondering how best to unleash the Russia–Trump collusion narrative. They were on the trail of the greatest political scandal of the ages, or so they believed.
Lee Smith, author of The Consequences of Syria and an insightful writer on US media and foreign policy, laments the collapse of contemporary political journalism. The rise of social media at the expense of the mainstream media, according to Smith, explains the context for what he terms the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. The digital revolution has undercut the capacity of conventional news organisations to pay for investigative journalism. As a consequence, “guns for hire” such as Fusion GPS have become crucial. In an era when Facebook has become “the actual publisher of most of the news that American consumed”, newspapers can no longer afford their own “investigative teams and foreign bureaus”. Freelance outfits or “comms shops” like Fusion GPS, founded in 2009 by two ex-Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch, have filled the gap.
Fusion GPS, with a transnational brief that includes “media, politics, regulation, national security and global markets”, provides helpful or expedient information for paying clients, from Planned Parenthood and Mitt Romney’s political opponents in the 2012 US presidential campaign, to Russian interests seeking to rescind the Magnitsky Act, an American law intended to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009:
Besides Russia, Fusion GPS has also worked with other foreign countries, organising campaigns and creating news that furthers the aims of the people who pay for their services—using the fractured field of “news” to extend old-fashioned lobbying efforts in a way that news consumers have been slow to understand.
Not your old-school news-gathering agency, admittedly.
Lee Smith is unconvinced that Fusion GPS or Christopher Steele were able to penetrate Putin’s inner circle. And if the CIA “had a human intelligence source that close to Putin, publication of the Post article could have exposed that source—doing incalculable damage to American national security”. His scepticism about the Putin–Trump collusion narrative is qualified by a conviction that Paul Manafort’s past business dealings are problematic. Trump had to sack Manafort as his campaign manager in August 2016, after receiving a security briefing which purportedly touched on Manafort’s previous business dealings with the pro-Moscow Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovich. Even so, does that make the Trump campaign guilty of anything other than poor vetting? A “big story” was promoted by the mainstream media in the middle of 2017 relating to the brief and entirely inconsequential June 9, 2016, meeting between Russian lawyer Natalie Veselnitskaya and Manafort, along with Donald Trump Jnr and Jared Kushner. That get-together had taken place in Trump Tower in the midst of the presidential campaign. A more awkward detail, surely, is the claim that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson met with Natalie Veselnitskaya before and after her Trump Tower rendezvous.
Russiagate, in the early stages of 2018, remains a matter of believing what you want to believe. The Mueller investigation, in the opinion of the Democrats, the mainstream media and anti-Trumpers in general, is making unhurried but genuine progress towards its ultimate destination—the downfall of the Trump presidency. Developments so far might not support that hypothesis. The charges brought by Mueller, on October 30, 2017, against Manafort and his business partner were unrelated to the Trump campaign. Days earlier, George Papadopoulos, a junior member of the Trump campaign, did plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government. This could be the tip of the Russiagate iceberg, or it could be no tip of any iceberg at all. Certainly, the Robert Mueller special investigation, despite the expensive and expansive array of prosecutors, bureaucrats, researchers and jurors, has so far—at the time of writing—failed to uncover the Great Kremlin Conspiracy.
For instance, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017, to lying to the FBI about making contact with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, on behalf of President-elect Trump. Why Flynn misrepresented himself in a January 2017 meeting with the FBI, an interview overseen by counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, remains a mystery. After all, establishing contact with a foreign emissary, as the prospective National Security Adviser, was no crime, since Donald Trump had already won the election. A political reporter for America’s ABC, Brian Ross, enlivened his nightly commentary on December 1, 2017, by claiming that Flynn had confessed to communicating with Ambassador Kislyak on behalf of Candidate Trump rather than President-elect Trump. The mainstream media, predictably, went into a frenzy, prompting the stock market to falter—until ABC belatedly corrected Brian Ross’s error.
Robert Mueller’s investigation has yet to verify Russiagate but the presumption, amongst true believers, is that inevitably it will. How else—apart from Trump’s xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, misogynist, white-supremacist dog-whistling—to explain a carnival barker defeating the “most qualified” (Obama’s words) presidential candidate ever? For the Russiagaters, the Russian narrative is incontrovertible, especially after President Trump dismissed FBI Chief James Comey on May 9, 2017. Had not Comey initiated the FBI’s counterintelligence operation during the 2016 election campaign which threatened to expose Trump’s perfidy? And what about the claim—as later reported by Comey—that Trump pressured the FBI Chief to “let go” any charges pending against Mike Flynn. Obstruction of justice! And did not President Trump say, at the time, that sacking Comey would make it easier for him to pursue better relations with President Putin? Treason!
Here we arrive at a fork in the road. We are now confronted with a very different perspective, one whose trajectory is not only the opposite of Russiagate, but sees the entire Russian collusion charge as a ruse to mask the real crimes of 2016. The promoters of “Operation Trump” or “The Trump Project”, or perhaps “Deepstategate”, have their own tale of behind-the-scenes skulduggery. They are not satisfied with poking holes in the Great Kremlin Conspiracy, but maintain that the Russiagate controversy was manufactured by a cabal of powerful co-conspirators for the purpose of (a) damaging Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign (b) spying on President-elect Trump’s transition team and (c) besieging and potentially ousting Donald Trump from office.
The first allusion to Deepstategate (though he used no such name at the time) by Donald Trump came in a series of tweets posted on March 4, 2017. The President of the United States kicked off with: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” The follow-up tweet was no less incendiary: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?” Then this: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election.” And, finally, the clincher: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
President Trump’s extraordinary allegation encountered instant pushback. The leftist Guardian, for instance, mocked the March 4 presidential tweets as just another instalment of Donald Trump defaming his adversaries with outrageous lies. Surely President Obama had already endured enough of The Donald’s slander during the “birther” conspiracy, in which the birthplace of Barack Obama was challenged. Hard on the heels of the March 4 tweets, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally assured the American public that neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice possessed any information that could substantiate Trump’s wiretapping claims. The denunciation of what CNN called President Trump’s “baseless wiretap claim” was, in fact, mostly bipartisan, with Devin Nunes (a Republican), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, stating that no evidence existed to verify Trump’s accusation. Nunes slightly altered his position two days later when he conceded that communications in and out of Trump Tower might have been “incidentally” monitored by intelligence agencies during the transition phase, although that would have been done legally and with the singular purpose of advancing the FBI’s Russia probe, not spying on Donald Trump per se.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The investigations of not-so-mainstream journalists, such as Sarah Carter of Circa News and John Solomon of The Hill, along with the online legal watchdog Judicial Watch, have gradually scraped away the surfaces of Russiagate to reveal a different picture beneath. To this catalogue of genuine sleuths, we should add the inquiries of Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Senator Chuck Grassley’s Senate Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte’s House Judiciary Committee and, not least, Devin Nunes’s House Intelligence Committee. The contrast between the circumspection of Nunes back in March 2017 and his present-day avowal of Deep State intervention against Donald Trump could not be more striking. The irony, perhaps, is that if the Great Kremlin Conspiracy had not been promoted so fervently by the Clinton campaign, the mainstream media, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressmen and so on, the intrigues of “Operation Trump” might have remained a secret. The same would hold true had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election.
Trump’s March 4, 2017, tweets were derided by the mainstream media as the paranoia of a foolish and unstable character. But is it paranoia if they really are after you? The now highly-documented machinations of FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok are a case in point. Strzok, it turns out, was not only the supervisory officer for the probe that exonerated Hillary Clinton in the private server/e-mail scandal; he also oversaw the FBI’s counterespionage investigation against the Trump campaign during the second half of 2016. Moreover, he effected the January 2017 questioning of Mike Flynn that resulted in Flynn being charged with providing false information to the FBI.
But wait—there’s more. Strzok also served as counter-espionage specialist on Mueller’s team in June and July 2017. Mueller relieved Strzok of his responsibilities after being informed of the agent’s visceral hatred of Donald Trump, as detailed in thousands of text messages exchanged with Lisa Page, the FBI attorney Strzok was having an extramarital affair with at the time. Mueller, however, concealed from the public the reason for removing Strzok. Strzok and Page, who also worked for the Special Counsel, likely leaked Russiagate hearsay to the mainstream media in October 2016. All this we know because of the vigilance of the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, Republican-dominated Congressional committees and the indefatigable Judicial Watch.
It might take a second Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the Peter Strzok boast, made to Lisa Page at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, that the FBI had in its possession an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory. We cannot be certain that Strzok’s talk of forming a “secret society” the day after Clinton’s defeat means what it seems to mean: Deep State activism. Correspondents for CNN, quoting anonymous sources “familiar with the exchange” between Strzok and Page, rationalised it away as “simply an attempt at humour when they were feeling down after the election”.
It is possible—though stretching the bounds of credulity—to believe the FBI “lost” five months of Strzok’s texts in a “technical glitch”, including the ones that coincided with his interrogation of Mike Flynn and the appointment of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel team. That said, these are the same members of the intelligence community who asked the general public to believe that Hillary Clinton’s “losing” 33,000 subpoenaed e-mails was not “grossly negligent” but “extremely careless”. As Stephen King once wrote about an entirely different matter: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.” So, let’s recall that President Obama’s Inland Revenue Service, after being charged with targeting conservative groups, insisted in 2015 that it could not provide to Congress two years’ worth of e-mails on account of “a computer crash”.
Our digital footprint is so enduring nowadays that the data trail we unintentionally leave behind is almost impossible to shake off. If there is a will—and a legal remedy—then there is usually a way to retrieve everything from our digital trail. In the case of the missing Strzok–Page electronic correspondence, for example, we have Michael Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, on the hunt for the concealed truth. After taking possession of a number of phones used by Strzok and Page, Horowitz sent a letter to the various investigative Congressional committees notifying them that his office had “succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr Strzok and Ms Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017.” Horowitz’s final report is not due yet but his team of 450, as we clearly observe, is playing an active role in exposing the shadowy Deep State.
Devin Nunes’s House Intelligence Committee is performing a similarly ground-breaking job. The committee focused, in its first phase, on the questionable origins of the Steele dossier and its deployment by senior members of the FBI and the Department of Justice to spy on Team Trump. Nunes’s famous four-page January 2018 memo questioned “the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)” during the period of the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order permitting surveillance of an American citizen must be obtained from FISC and then renewed every ninety days. On four occasions, according to Nunes’s memo, the highest-ranking members of the Department of Justice and the FBI obtained a warrant authorising electronic surveillance of volunteer Trump campaign adviser Carter Page:
Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and the Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed on. Then-Deputy Attorney Sally Yates, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.
President Trump’s response to the release of the Nunes memo was unambiguous: “The FBI became the tool of anti-Trump political actors.” A counterpoint, obviously, is that Carter Page really did travel to Moscow in July 2016 and that the IC’s interest in Page dates back to at least 2013. Josh Rogin might have dismissed Page as a “relatively unknown, mid-level oil consultant” with an “extremely low” likelihood of ever being the “centre of a Kremlin-Trump conspiracy”, and yet this does not automatically rule him out as a person of interest to the FBI or the Department of Justice. On the other hand, the Orwellian nature of modern-day electronic scrutiny means that a citizen, however suspicious, should be afforded protection from state surveillance which is in any sense arbitrary. Thus, FISA requires that the integrity of any (secret) court decision sanctioning the US government to spy on an American citizen be irreproachable. The four FISA orders against Carter Page, according to the Nunes memo, spectacularly failed to meet this criterion.
We now know, thanks to Nunes, that the Steele dossier was submitted by the FBI/DOJ as the primary rationale for procuring the FISA remits to snoop on Carter Page—and ipso facto the Trump campaign. McCabe, Yates, Boente and Rosenstein omitted to mention in any of their four FISA court applications that nothing substantial in the Steele dossier had been verified, that the Steele dossier was funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC (possibly to the tune of $10 million), that Christopher Steele had expressed a desire “that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president”, and that Fusion GPS employed none other than the wife of the then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. None of this, the Nunes memo apprises us, is “reflected in any of the Page FISA applications”.
Joan Coaston, writing for the unashamedly anti-Trump Vox magazine, said this about the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum before it was published: “The memo now isn’t just a memo but part of a growing drumbeat of rhetoric aimed at discrediting the FBI and, more specifically, the Mueller investigation.” Rolling Stone was even more derisive about the Nunes memo before publication day on February 2, 2018. Bob Moser, with his characteristic satirical modishness, branded the awaited House Intelligence Committee’s memo a “talking point” of not only “right-wing platforms like Breitbart, Fox News and the Gateway Pundit” but “Russian bots and state media outlets like Tass, RT, and Sputnik”. To translate: any scepticism about the Great Kremlin Conspiracy can only serve the interests of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy:
The actual memo, as soon as its contents are leaked or revealed in full, is bound to disappoint those screaming for its release—and sure to raise red flags about the sources and methods of the House Republican staffers who put it together. But that won’t stop the next Russian-Republican propaganda shitstorm from taking over social media …
Bob Moser, like so many of those indoctrinated by latter-day leftist ideology, is ensnared in a Kafkaesque paradigm where questioning of received progressive opinion is automatically a thoughtcrime.
Moser, author of such gems as “Donald Trump, Neo-Nazi Recruiter-in-Chief” is no outrageous outlier. He is a regular contributor to the left-wing New Republic magazine no less. Nevertheless, we might point out to Moser and all those who speak earnestly about “Russian–Republican propaganda” that the sky is blue and the grass is green. It is the Democrats, in the era of Putin, who have sought conciliation with Russia, not the Republicans. Was it not Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who so enthusiastically sought to “reset” relations with the Kremlin and, shortly thereafter, approved the sale of America’s uranium assets to Russian interests? And did not President Obama, caught on a hot mic in 2012, promise Dmitry Medvedev “more flexibility” with Russia if he won re-election? And was it not the same Barack Obama who laughed at his 2012 Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, for worrying about a resurgent Russia representing America’s top geopolitical threat: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for twenty years.”
Is it not incumbent upon Great Kremlin Conspiracy advocates to come up with at least one example of Donald Trump doing the beckoning of Vladimir Putin? The reality, surely, is that the Trump administration with its America First credo has acted very much against the interests of the Russian Democratic Federative Republic. Putin’s Russia has, to put it crudely, only four trump cards: energy, weaponry, military adventurism and patriotism. Trump’s America, unlike an Obama/Clinton America, is more than a match for Russian revivalism on every count. Consider, for instance, Trump’s ambitions for American energy self-sufficiency, an expanded military budget, the evisceration of the Islamic State and his scorn for NFL players “taking the knee”. Napoleon Bonaparte, supposedly, once said: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” If Vladimir Putin truly believed the hapless Hillary Clinton would be more of a threat to Russia than The Donald then shame on him.
What the United States and Russia—in addition to India, China, Israel, Australia et al—have in common is legitimate trepidation about Islamic revivalism. Putin, short-sightedly, sought deliverance by supporting Shia Islamic revivalism (that is, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah) against Sunni revivalism (the Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and so on). Eventually, we can but hope, Trump and Putin will come to some mutually advantageous arrangement in which the actual enemy of humanity is identified—and destroyed. The Russiagaters have not only put this potentially civilisation-saving project in jeopardy, they are also trashing whatever credibility attaches itself to the progressive cause in the West. Why, for example, were they so enraged in advance of the publication of the Devin Nunes memo? The Left, once so antagonistic to the IC, is now the defender of unaccountable electronic surveillance. Once upon a time, progressives blamed the assassination of JFK on the FBI and the CIA; now, bewilderingly, they champion Big Brother against the opponents of political correctness. The New Left, who so earnestly promised to eschew the totalitarianism of the Old Left, have forfeited freedom’s high ground.
If we are to make any sense of Russiagate/Deepstategate, we must re-interpret C. Wright Mills’s 1950s theory about a conservative power elite in the United States. Today, in America and almost all Western nations, we are confronted by a Left power elite. This elite, comprising intelligence community operatives, Hollywood celebrities, wealthy benefactors, a compliant media and conforming members of Congress, observes a higher loyalty than the American electorate. The people, who voted in 2016 for their populist candidate, must defy this nascent ruling class or the Left power elite will overthrow Donald Trump.
Daryl McCann wrote on Roger Scruton in the January-February issue. He has a blog at http://darylmccann.blogspot.com.au, and he tweets at @dosakamccann