Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
16 December 2016, 11:56
The latest allegations that Russia tried to sway the US election could engulf Donald Trump in a scandal of Watergate proportions, David Mellor writes.
Last night President Obama warned the Russians that the US will retaliate, following a CIA report that Russian hacking, ordered by Putin himself they say, was part of a serious attempt by the Kremlin to swing the Presidential election to Donald Trump.
Putin’s little knees might not be knocking with fear. But finally even Obama has had to lift his eyes from his putter to promise sanctions, and President-Elect Trump ought to be worried, even if Putin isn’t.
Interestingly Obama says about sanctions; “Some of it maybe explicit and publicised, some of it may not be”.
As I learned when briefly responsible for East/West relations while Minister of State at the Foreign Office during Gorbachev’s time, a lot of what goes on between the superpowers never makes the papers, and is never the subject of public pronouncements, but happens. Warnings are issued, and if not heeded, stuff happens, so the Russians and the American’s know exactly where they stand, even if the rest of us don’t.
If Russia, a third world country economically, and not that much better technologically, can hack sensitive US emails, what do you think the US could do to Putin if they really set about it? Don’t to be surprised to see Putin’s doctor’s latest report on the length of Putin’s penis becoming public property sometime soon.
I have been thinking about Watergate, which I lived though, a lot lately. I remember watching, transfixed, as a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand grew and grew, and finally overwhelmed President Nixon.
Is the same going to happen to Trump? He really is behaving like a total fool over this, rejecting CIA intelligence briefings, and refusing to accept this report saying the Agency are just making excuses for Hilary’s defeat.
Not so, of course. It was on October 7th, a whole month before the election, that all relevant US security agencies stated publically that Russia was involved in dirty work over emails.
Trump really will need to watch his step, but who is there in his family dominated entourage, with the courage to tell him.
Nixon found it impossible to deal with the tidal wave of bad publicity Watergate generated, even taking the best advice. Trump, shooting from the lip as he does, with a bit of help from his daughter, and an overambitious, totally inexperienced, son-in-law, hasn’t a chance.
And don’t forget, Trumps authority as incoming American national leader isn’t that great. He polled less votes than Hilary. And his own party both before the election and still after it, is split about him.
Obama yesterday did brilliantly what he always does best; talking the talk.
He knows the Republicans are divided. He knows the Republicans consider themselves to be the patriotic party and he said this about Putin; “This is somebody, the former Head of the KGB, who is responsible for crushing democracy in Russia, muzzling the press, throwing political dissidents in jail, countering American efforts to expand freedom at every turn; and currently making decisions that’s leading to slaughter in Syria”.
“And a big chunk of the Republican Party, which prided itself during the Reagan era and for the decades that followed, as being the bulwark against Russian influence, now, suddenly, is embracing him”.
If that charge sticks, Trump has had it. It won’t take long for serious and senior Republicans on Capitol Hill, already dubious about Trump, to abandon him.
And America’s investigative journalists will have a field day. They will want to establish the truth about what lies behind Trump’s Putinism.
Is Trump’s addiction to Putin just a man thing? Does he admire him the way I admire Diego Costa, because, however dodgy a bloke he seems to be, he does what he’s paid to do brilliantly.
Or is there more to it than that? Because of Trump’s entangled business relationship with Russian money, has Trump, in effect, been bought and paid for by Putin?
If there’s murk like that around, and it can be exhumed and published, Trump needn’t even bother to unpack.
It’s a paradox isn’t it. Scepticism, anger, hatred, contempt about Russia has dominated American politics since WWII. American political leaders prove their patriotism by denouncing the Russians. Trump presents himself as potentially the most patriotic President of them all. How ironic then, that he may end up, on this, the biggest of all determining issues, to be the White House’s least patriotic inhabitant ever.