National Commentary

The Trump-Putin Protectionist Push

The foul and uncouth oversized Russian mole in the Oval Office is acting in exact conformity with the demands of its master. The threat that Trump’s insistence on throwing up protectionist tariffs as sudden brakes on the global and U.S. economies is exactly what Putin is hoping will cripple his strategic rivals.

It’s what happens when you allow a foreign agent into the command position in the White House.

No wonder Trump’s chief economic advisor has jumped ship. To the extent he’s seen his role as, like General Kelly, keeping Trump under a modicum of control, that effort has been deemed a failure. Putin has more suasive power over Trump than Gary Cohn ever did. Trump’s mindset: Roy Cohn yes, Gary Cohn no.

It’s not like we weren’t warned. Overlooked by most in the famous Christopher Steele dossier was what it reported on Putin’s rationale for supporting Trump and unleashing chaos on the world economy.

Right at its outset it states that Putin’s aim in his effort to get Trump elected president of the U.S. “was to sow discord and disunity both within the U.S. itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia’s interests.”

It cites a senior Russian financial official who said “the Trump operation should be seen in terms of Putin’s desire to return to Nineteenth Century ‘Great Power’ politics anchored upon countries’ interests rather than the ideals-based international order established after World War Two.”

And there’s the oft overlooked little paragraph that could speak volumes citing a “suggestion from a source close to Trump and Manafort that Republican campaign team happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt business ties to China and other emerging countries.”

So, whether its Russia, China or “other emerging countries” with whom Trump has “more extensive corrupt business ties,” one thing is clear: It’s one or more of the above, and not the U.S., whose interests are driving Trump policy. Not the U.S.

This constitutes a lot for special investigator Robert Mueller to sort through, but we can be assured that he and his team have been doing just that. No, the warning signs of Trump campaign collusion with a hostile foreign power to skew the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election were detected by the FBI prior to the Steele dossier’s emergence. But the dossier based on the highly-credible Steele team’s investigative work added a lot of substance to work with, including its references to Russian support for U.S. anti-establishment figures and candidates in the U.S. and efforts to exploit the Bernie Sanders candidacy against Hillary Clinton. It included report of a secret meeting between Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen and Kremlin representatives in August 2016 in Prague, and much more pertaining to bribes, sex parties, and a “plausibly-deniable leaks pipeline.”

According to the dossier, the Kremlin supported Trump because he was seen as a “divisive, anti-establishment candidate who would shake up the current international status quo in Russia’s favor.” It stated, “Asked to explain why Putin and the Kremlin launched such an aggressive Trump support operation in the first place, the official said that Russia needed to upset the liberal international status quo.” Trump was seen by the Russians as someone who “would continue as a divisive political force even if he lost the presidency.”

Much of the pro-Trump effort since the Steele dossier was made public has focused on efforts at discrediting Steele, a veteran British MI-6 operative with decades of positive relations with U.S. intelligence and a very favorable reputation in such circles on both sides of the Atlantic, as New Yorker magazine correspondent Jane Mayer documented in her article, “Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier: How the Ex-Spy Tried to Warn the World About Trump’s Ties to Russia” appearing in the March 12 edition of the magazine.

Mayer, the author of a bombshell best seller, “Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” (2017), presented an exhaustive profile of Steele and the frustrations he encountered when the seriousness of his subject matter became clear.


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at