The New Yorker has published an excellent article entitled, A Theory of Trump Kompromat. There is a lot of keen insight in the piece, especially as it delves into the evidence that proves the existence of kompromat. Yet, in the final analysis, I am unsatisfied with it.
There is likely a simpler explanation.
Instead of lots of moving parts and people acting in out-of-character ways, I think we can explain the kompromat with a theory that also proves that it almost certainly exists. We can build this theory—which actually requires only two inferences beyond what is already public knowledge—based upon what we know of the parties to the Trump Tower meeting.
Who are they, and what do they (or their bosses) want? But before we get to that, let’s examine the New Yorker’s evidence that kompromat exists.
In his article in the New Yorker, Adam Davidson views Trump and Putin’s “Treason Summit” through the eyes of a CIA operative and two university professors. The case for kompromat he makes is compelling. Let me quote one paragraph:
There is no need to assume that Trump was a formal agent of Russian intelligence to make sense of Trump’s solicitousness toward Putin. Keith Darden, an international-relations professor at American University, has studied the Russian use of kompromat—compromising material—and told me that he thinks it is likely that the President believes the Russians have something on him. “He’s never said a bad word about Putin,” Darden said. “He’s exercised a degree of self-control with respect to Russia that he doesn’t with anything else.” Darden said that this is evidence that Trump isn’t uniformly reckless in his words: “He is capable of being strategic. He knows there are limits, there are bounds on what he can say and do with respect to Russia.”
We are all quite aware of the many instances in which Trump has bent over backward to assist Russia, starting with the change in the platform at the GOP convention, to secretly working to eliminate or soften sanctions, to wreaking havoc on NATO. The list is extensive. And all of that, which had been swirling in the background, came to the fore at the Treason Summit, when Trump showed what I call his subservient stray cat behavior.
You see, I feed three stray cats. One of those cats—the smallest—is also the fiercest of the lot. When she decides to put her head in a bowl to eat, the other cats make way. When one of the other cats wants to put its head in a bowl in which the dominant cat is occupied, it doesn’t.
We all saw the subservient-dominant relationship in action in Helsinki. I believe that proof of kompromat is solid. But what form does it take?
The New Yorker Theory of Kompromat
The theory propounded in the New Yorker is one of money laundering or another financial crime involving Russians. It is summed up as follows:
The scenario that, to my mind, makes the most sense of the given facts and requires the fewest fantastical leaps is that, a decade or so ago, Trump, naïve, covetous, and struggling for cash, may have laundered money for a business partner from the former Soviet Union or engaged in some other financial crime.
The reasons that I am unsatisfied with this theory of kompromat is because (a) it has too many moving parts, (b) it doesn’t take into account the nature of some of the actors, (c ) the charges of money laundering would be dismissed by Trump in a likely off-hand manner, and (d) it has taken a Special Counsel and a legion of lawyers and FBI agents a year to get here, and those folks have subpoena power, which provides access to tax records, real estate closing files, emails, memos and anything tangible or digital you can think of.
A Unified Theory of Kompromat, the Universe and Everything
The one moving part that we will consider is the Trump Tower meeting. Why do you need evidence of money laundering when you can have evidence of Treason? First, let’s look at the creatures we are dealing with. On one side of conference table, we have Donald Trump, Jr., cast in his role as the Fredo of the Corleone Family. He is the self-appointed point man for this mission, handling the logistics and contacts with the Russians.
Or, was he self-appointed?
Having handled much complex litigation with many lawyers in the room—and having sat at the poker table with sharks aplenty—I know that you always find and then attack the weakest link. As if on cue from central casting, Donald Trump, Jr. responds to the offer from the Russians with an “I love it.”
On the other side of the table is a trained litigator who was described to Junior as a “Russian Government attorney.” Her name is Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Here, we have to ask ourselves: What would these creatures do in such a delicate situation? If you are Junior, you proudly tell your father. We are seeing the evidence of this now. If you are Natalia Veselnitskaya, you tell Putin.
Now, you have to do something distasteful, which is to inhabit the skin of Vladmir Putin. What do you do if you are Putin? You tell your people to record the meeting, and you provide them with state-of-the-art equipment.
Then, you record Treason.
Of course, there have been the usual denials from Junior and from Jared Kushner that anything was accomplished at the meeting. This is what I call a “media fiction.” The only people who have claimed that no deal was struck are the people who would go to prison if it became known that a deal was struck.
Why would we believe them now?
Moreover, if you would please return to the inside of Putin’s skin, consider, again, what he wanted. More than anything in the world, I bet, he wanted to record Trump or his son committing the crime of Treason. His spy handlers may have even instructed Veselnitskaya to pretend to drive a hard bargain, but, in the end, to get that bargain. The shaking of hands at the end of the meeting would be when the video faded to black. Moreover, we know that the Trumps were desperate for the information.
That is why, this, I think, is the most logical reason for Trump’s role as the subservient cat.