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Thursday, January 12, 2017

On balance I find the unsubstantiated allegations about Donald Trump and Russia to be credible

Portrait of Donald Trump during a campaign event on August 19, 2015

None of us ordinary folk can be certain one way or the other of the truthfulness of the unsubstantiated allegations being reported by US intelligence chiefs regarding the connection between United States president-elect Donald Trump and Russia.

I believe, however, there is enough material now in the public domain for each of us to decide whether we believe the thrust of the allegations. And I for one do believe they are substantially true, notwithstanding denials by president-elect Trump, his army of apologists and paid spin doctors and, of course, the Kremlin.

For several months now we have heard Trump dismiss high-level intelligence reports of Russia’s interference in the presidential election, calling them “ridiculous” and placing the blame on Democrats who he claimed were upset over election results for publicizing such reports. In a mocking Tweet, Trump quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s statement that “a 14-year-old kid could have hacked Podesta.”  Now he reportedly concedes Russia probably meddled in the election. So, was he being disingenuous when he persistently insisted Russia was not to blame?

Furthermore, months ago the president-elect was caught on a hot mic boasting that he groped women and then defended himself by claiming he was engaging in locker-room talk—in other words lying.

There are webpages dedicated to tracking and reporting Trump’s falsehoods and exaggerations, which are published by reputable media organizations. For example, during the lead up to the Republican nomination, POLITICO subjected a week’s worth of the president-elect’s words to their magazine’s fact-checking process. This amounted to 4.6 hours of his speeches and press conferences. According to POLITICO’s website, “more than five dozen statements deemed mischaracterizations, exaggerations, or simply false—the kind of stuff that would have been stripped from one of our stories, or made the whole thing worthy of the spike. It equates to roughly one misstatement every five minutes on average.”

A simple Google search will show a stunning pattern of falsehoods, half-truths and exaggerations emanating from the president-elect’s mouth. Even Mr. Trump’s paid spin doctor, Kellyanne Conway, seems to concede that the president-elect cannot be taken at his word. Last Monday (Jan. 9), she went on TV to defend her boss, who had once again denied mocking a disabled reporter.

“Why don't you believe him? Why is everything taken at face value?” Ms. Conway said. “You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart? You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.” [Emphasis mine.]

So, clearly Trump’s words of denial cannot be taken at face value. And, as for Russia’s denials? Well, they invented the term from which “disinformation” is derived: dezinformatsiya, defined in the 1952 official Great Soviet Encyclopedia as spreading “false information with the intention to deceive public opinion.” Such tactics have been an integral part of Russian and Soviet tradecraft for several decades. Whole books have been devoted to this subject.

On the one hand, therefore, we have known liars denying the accuracy of the unsubstantiated allegations, while on the other hand we have the chiefs of US intelligence apparently believing the information they had was credible enough to be brought to the attention of President Barack Obama.

Then there is the credibility of the controversial dossier’s apparent author, the ex-MI6 (British secret intelligence service) officer, Christopher Steele. It is reported by media sources I trust that his sources and the people who vouch for him are credible. One described him as “very credible” and “a sober, cautious and meticulous professional with a formidable record.” He is also described as an experienced and highly regarded professional who is not the sort of person to simply pass on gossip.

As a conservative with a keen interest in politics, I have followed the US presidential nomination and election process closely for what must be about two years now. Over that time, I’m sad to say, my opinion of the president-elect deteriorated to the point I seriously doubt Donald Trump could himself “pass” Senate confirmation hearings for membership in his own cabinet.

And that’s a sad state of affairs. God help the United States of America find a way through this crisis.

Photo Credit: By Michael Vadon — This file has been extracted and cropped from another file: Donald Trump August 19, 2015.jpg , CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

7 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Thanks for that Russ. I agree. Interesting...I also was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada when I was nine.
    Take care,
    Anthony

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  2. It is, as you said, unsubstantiated information. The press has no business trading in this sort of thing. It is fine that you trust the source but that does not substantiate it.

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  3. Even 'conservative' Canadians are loons-on-steroids. I no longer pay any attention to what happens in this backwater of the world because it NEVER matters.
    Your dainty quibbles about Trump are meaningless. He is the undisputed master of the US despite all the froth. If yours is the attitude of my fellows here, boy are you in for a shock and it won't be a good one either.
    Oh and the 'allegations' are complete garbage, fti only for the national Enquirer, which is why Trump is winning on this issue as well. Complete GARBAGE.
    Oh well at least we have a PM who knows what's important, namely 'feminism and diversity. Oh and LOTS of immigration from you-know-where.
    And you can't support Trump.
    ROTFFLOL-ing

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  4. I think that what makes this interesting is that the accusations are unlikely but plausible. I can't imagine saying that about previous Presidents (OK. Maybe Bill). I can't see Trump serving his full term without impeachment, let alone 8 years

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  5. So Russ, are you prepared to deny all the historical things done by men and women with feet of clay? Let's leave the gossip to folks who know no better, and focus our attention on the things that really matter. I would not seek Trump's company and he surely doesn't care whether or not I exist but if he continues to lead the turning of the tide against the godless left, then I will recognize him as a giant of history. Eric Doll

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  6. Not surprised here. Trump has a sketchy past never mind he is a narcissist who seems to think he is above the rules. His coziness with Putin is quite worrying and I am glad some Republicans in congress are standing up to him. Putin has spread his tentacles far and wide and is now actively funding many anti-establishment parties in Western Europe just to cause chaos as he wants Russia to be the strongest again. It will be an interesting next four years. The GOP may regret choosing him in the long-run since if as bad as expected it will cost them many state legislatures in 2018 and perhaps both houses and then the white house in 2020. Had they chosen a more reasonable one like John Kasich, I think the party would be able to maintain its hold with maybe some minor losses in midterms (party in white house pretty much always loses seats then).

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  7. Doug - the Russians didn't write the mia culpa in this witch's emails - you cannot doubt the outcome of a democratic rejection of her open criminality and place the blame of Russians

    - why not E.T.s, I'm sure they had a "finger" in it too. Get real.

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