Spy Clouds Hang Over Trump’s Inauguration

Trump is about to enter the White House with multiple  fronts in an ongoing skirmish with American intelligence—what happens  next?

Tomorrow Donald J. Trump will become our 45th president, an event heralded by his supporters as a big step towards changing the course of our politics and, per their mantra, making America great again. While the festivities have produced giggles from the president-elect’s semi-comical inability to get top talent to play his inauguration, a considerably more serious problem for Trump has emerged on the espionage front.

He weathered last week’s spy-storm, generated by Buzzfeed’s leak of a 35-page dossier of allegations regarding his clandestine ties to the Kremlin, by mocking them in customary Trumpian fashion. In a series of angry tweets, the president-elect denounced the Intelligence Community as the source of that leak—even though it was not—while proclaiming the dossier to be “fake news.” Since he recently compared American spies to Nazis on Twitter, Trump seemingly wants a full-fledged war with the IC from his first day in the Oval Office.

If America’s 17-agency spy empire isn’t on Trump’s side, Vladimir Putin is. In defense of the president-elect, the Kremlin strongman proclaimed the dossier to be “rubbish” and “clearly false information,” mocking reports of Russian kompromat, colorfully adding that those who he claimed were smearing Trump were “worse than prostitutes.”

To be fair, the dossier, which was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with extensive experience in Russian matters, does have dodgy aspects. As I explained last week, it’s raw, unfiltered human intelligence from multiple sources with varying levels of access and credibility. Some of the dossier’s claims are quite plausibly true, others are demonstrably false, while much of it is unverifiable and may be Kremlin disinformation. Given the long history of Russian provocation and deception against Western governments, a high degree of skepticism is in order here.

Read the rest at The Observer …