It will not be possible to tell, or even firmly conjecture, what is really going on with Trump and the Russians for months. Pieces of the puzzle are raining down, faster than any can be carefully examined, each one a shocker that would have triggered incredulity in a sane age, not to mention Republican self-preservation distancing.Â It beggars belief that within six months of a historic electoral victory, the GOP’s “Si, se puede!” has already turned into “Sal si puedes!” with sharks circling the foundering ship.Â But here’s what makes sense to me tonight.
Trump is Putin’s stooge, end of story. It’s the only way to understand the consistency and doggedness of his self-destructive behavior in all things Russian or Russian-tainted. He’s handcuffed on a long-term and a more recent chain that he cannot break.Â He’s not an ideal stooge, because of his own ignorance and lack of self-control, but he’s what Putin has.
The first chain is a set of financial obligations going back to the time when no-one with a desk and a window would do business with him or lend him money because of his colossal business failures.Â The Russians, in various assortments and, it now appears, using the very pliant Deutsche Bank among other pipelines, loansharked him to get back in the game; they own him through their ability to ruin him, and his complete inability to think of himself as anything but a great tycoon. His tax returns will go a long way to confirming or refuting this. Maybe he just owes them money he can’t pay, maybe the actual financing was criminal and he can’t reveal the details, maybe both. Remember Chili Palmer’s prÃ©cis of the loan shark’s method: “in those cases, I’m the one inflicting the pain.”
The second leash on which Putin has Trump, snapped on over the last year, is that Trump knows that Putin knows everything the congressional investigators, Mueller, and the press want to know, and all of it is arrows aimed at Trump’s heart. If Trump doesn’t behave, Putin can save the gumshoes a lot of time by simply sharing some documents, memos, and audio, from the campaign and more recently, that will at least put Trump out of office and may well put him in jail. It is interesting to speculate how much of all this Trump has shared with his toadies, including his kids, and what nightmares they have about being disgraced and poor when it hits the fan; Madoff kept it all a secret from his family until the end.
It must be infuriating to Putin that when he has finally ensnared a conscience-free American president, his tool turns out to be such a tool. It’s not so easy to weaponize a loose cannon with radiantly incompetent lieutenants who can’t even fold their own parachutes,Â the attention span of a gnat, and a memory that can’t retain anything but the odd slight–a lame Trojan horse with glanders and bloat, who believes himself to be Pegasus. But I guess you go to war with the stooge you can capture.