Sorry I've been away. Had a bit of a personal crisis which diverted me from blog duties as well as some important "real world" duties. Let's blast through a couple of recent developments...
Trump keeps doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on his claim that Obama ordered spying on Trump Tower -- and his behavior tells me that Donald may have had an ace up his sleeve all along. Either he knows something or his aides have concocted something.
I seem to be the only one (at least on the left) who considers this theory possible. Before you scoff, a reminder: I was the very first blogger (June 16, 2016) to speak of the Trump/Putin link, in a post that name-dropped Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone. I was also one of the few to predict that Trump would win the presidency.
stunned everyone by repeating a Fox News suggestion that Britain's GCHQ did the actual spying -- not a foolish theory, since NSA and GCHQ have long had an informal "you spy on mine and I'll spy on yours" arrangement. I've made the same suggestion in these pages. Still, it is unheard-of for a White House press spokesperson to blurt out such a suggestion based on nothing more than an unverified Fox News report.
That report, we are told, was based on three unnamed sources. Nice to know that Trump has gotten over his phobic reaction to anonymous sourcing. Maybe the operative principle is Fox May Do What Others May Not
GCHQ ridiculed Spicer's suggestion that it spied on Trump at Obama's behest. The White House had to apologize
Meanwhile, Louise Mensch -- a de facto (paid?) spokesperson for British intelligence -- has been strongly intimating that GCHQ was spying on the Russians, as it damned well ought to, and that information on Trump was collected incidentally
Tapes, FROM @GCHQ, including Team Traitor, talking to Russians. The target would have been THE RUSSIANS.
#ProTip If you don't want to be on tape talking to Russian targets of @GCHQ surveillance, ***don't talk to those Russians***
This scenario makes sense. Nevertheless, the Trumpers insists that Obama personally requested the interceptions, and I consider this display of certainty downright unnerving. Trump is a poker player with many tells, and -- as noted above -- those tells currently indicate a hidden ace.
Here are some interesting questions for you to ponder: If Obama did indeed make the ask, how would Trump know? How can Mensch be so damned sure that Obama did not
make the ask? (I would have, if I had been in Obama's position. You probably would have as well.) Why is Mensch so sure that her sources tell her everything? Even if Obama did not request assistance from GCHQ, is there any way for Trump to gin up evidence against him? Remember, FSB can offer its considerable professional help in such matters.
Let's wander a bit further down that fork in the trail. If said ginned-up evidence were made public, how could it be debunked? The debunkers themselves can be easily debunked, because the only people who could expose the fake evidence would be spies
. Would our conspiracy-crazed populace believe what a bunch of spies said even if they were telling the truth? Nearly 50 years ago, Richard Helms said "You've just got to trust us; we are honorable men" -- and the world still
hasn't stopped laughing.
It's an open question as to whether anyone in our intel community would try to expose Trump as a liar. Never forget that American spy agencies are now headed by Trump's pick, Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Despite his strongly anti-gay stances, Coats is said to be a moderate Republican, insofar as such a thing is possible these days. Nevertheless, he was a Dan Quayle loyalist for many years, and he became Trump loyalist rather early in the campaign, if I recall aright. I can't see Coats saying or doing anything that could harm Trump.
Although the world has moved on from the Trump tax return imbroglio, we have additional reasons to believe that Trump himself leaked those pages to David Cay Johnston.
Fair warning: The argument comes to us by way of The Jester
, whom I consider the most unnerving of the anti-Trump spy-types. We're talking about an anonymous egomaniac (yes, one can be both things at once) who feels comfortable using Breitbartisms like "SJW" to denigrate liberals. In short: The dude's an asshole. But a good argument is a good argument even when an asshole makes it, which is why your Logic 101 teacher taught you that ad hominem
is a fallacy.
The most interesting discovery: The envelope that popped into David Cay Johnston's mailbox bore a Westchester, NY postmark. As it happens, the Trump family owns an estate in Westchester
, and members of the family were staying there at the appropriate time.
(Hey, isn't Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Students located in Westchester? Maybe Kitty Pryde or Nightcrawler snatched the documents.)
The Jester also notes that the "leaked" pages stem from 2005, the year Donnie married Melania, who was not yet a citizen. In order for her to obtain her citizenship -- which she acquired in 2006 -- Melania had to show her 2005 tax returns. Those returns had to be (as the Jester puts it) "squeaky clean." The document leaked to David Cay Johnston is a joint filing, which means that it was no doubt prepared with Melania's citizenship issue in mind.
Beyond all of that
are the points you've probably already heard before: 1. The two pages given to Johnston do not include much information about sources of income, which is, of course, the stuff we really want
. 2. The document is a "CLIENT COPY," indicating that the leak came either from Trump or Melania. (Perhaps his lawyer or his accountant? Nah. That's ridiculous.) 3. Trump -- a.k.a. "John Barron" -- has a long history of leaking information about himself.
Barring an actual confession -- which we probably will never get -- I'd say that we have all the evidence we can reasonably expect. I am personally convinced that Trump leaked those documents.