Just when you thought the ongoing saga of Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin had run its course, something else comes along. The controversial Internet news site, BuzzFeed, ran an article which included an unverified 35-page dossier regarding Trump’s relationship with Russia, including the allegation that the Russians had ‘damaging’ information on him. CNN and other organizations ran the story, but didn’t include details and caveated reporting with the disclaimer that none of it had been verified.

At his January 11 press conference (his first since last July) Trump went on a rant against BuzzFeed and CNN in particular, calling the report ‘fake’ news, and excoriating both organizations. He went so far as to refuse to allow the CNN reporter present at the conference to ask a question.

Now, printing an unverified report without establishing its validity was unprofessional on BuzzFeed’s part, and an unfortunate example of the worst kind of supermarket tabloid journalism. Whether this was intentional or just a mistake made in the rush to be the ‘first’ to report the issue, is beside the point. They should not have reported it in the way they did.

That aside, though, the elephant is now in the room, and even if it’s proven beyond doubt to be untrue, it will dog Trump for the rest of his administration. Given his own disregard for truth throughout the campaign, and the fact that we are talking about the Russians here, it is an issue that deserves some careful, dispassionate discussion. Just how credible is it that Russian intelligence might have derogatory information on our president-elect?

Let’s start with the subject. We’re talking about a man who was recorded saying that he ‘grabbed women by their pussies,’ and could get away with anything because he’s a star. This is a man who has publicly (via Twitter and TV) demeaned women, mocked a  handicap reporter, and called for his supporters to ‘beat the shit’ out of a demonstrator at one of his campaign events—and, who has denied or tried to minimize each instance of his bad behavior. He’s also a trust fund kid who has become accustomed to doing whatever he wants and basically getting away with it. So, without going into the details, it’s not too incredible to believe that he might have engaged in what some would call salacious behavior during one or more of his trips to Russia.

Now, to our Russian friends. The KGB was known for its use of the honey trap; the use of women (or men when the target was a woman) to lure foreigners into compromising situations in order to be able to pressure them. Lest we forget, Putin is former KGB, and the current Russian security service is just old wine in a new bottle. As far as keeping tabs on foreigners of interest and looking for pressure points to use against them, I know from personal experience that little has changed in Russia. During a visit to Moscow in 2007, my room was searched while I was out for supper. A person of Trump’s wealth, with his oversized, but fragile ego, would most definitely be a person of interest to Russian security. He would be taped, recorded, and maybe even have bait dangled before him. Would the Russians admit to this? No, they would deny it—as they have, and as they denied interfering in the 2016 election.

So, is any of it true? Is some of it true? Or, is it totally false? While some of it has a ring of credibility, some appears to be either wild speculation or outright falsehood. We may never know the truth, but now that the subject is on the table, we won’t stop wondering. 

Published by Charles Ray