(Credit: AP/Evan Vucci/City Lights Publishers/Salon)
The cauldron that is the Russia scandal and its related tendrils — including possible money laundering and likely obstruction of justice — has boiled over. In recent weeks it has been revealed that Robert Mueller is investigating a secret meeting between Trump ally Erik Prince and a Russian contact in the Seychelles, additional charges have been added to Paul Manafort and Rick Gates’ indictments, 13 Russians and various American assets have been indicted for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and Donald Trump has engaged in what looks like witness tampering. Adding to this imbroglio, adult film star Stormy Daniels, who was apparently paid $130,000 in hush money by Trump’s personal attorney, is threatening to reveal intimate photos and other evidence of her affair with the president.
Trump and his associates are not acting like innocent people. Their behavior suggests a deep level of culpability in reference to the 2016 presidential election as well as the other illegal behavior that Mueller has already and will continue to uncover.
What does this new information suggest about Mueller’s investigation into Trump and his inner circle? What of the claim by Trump’s defenders that he is a victim of a plot” by the so-called Deep State? Has the success of Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy been overstated? Is China, rather than Russia the true beneficiary of Trump’s foreign policy and other failures?
In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Melvin Goodman. He was an intelligence analyst at the CIA for 24 years, specializing in relations between the United States and Russia. Goodman is the author of several books including his most recent, “Whistleblower at the CIA.”
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Given your four decades of experience as an intelligence analyst with the CIA, and your work with the State Department and other agencies, how do you view the Russia scandal and Donald Trump?
His effort to hide the story, and his treatment of Putin and Russia, suggest that with all that smoke there’s some fire. I don’t know if it’s money laundering. I don’t know if it’s some vulnerabilities that he’s been compromised in Russia, but his treatment of Putin makes no sense. The Manafort indictment is damning. [Manafort’s] vulnerability to Russia and then the fact that he danced into the Trump campaign and becomes the campaign manager, and by the way is willing to work for nothing at a time when he is in financial crisis. And then there are [Jeff] Sessions and [Jared] Kushner, who have lied about foreign contacts. On top of that there are a hundred or so people in the White House who the FBI and the Justice Department can’t finally clear for security documents. In total ,this all points to a level of corruption like we’ve never seen before.
The Republicans are hanging on to Trump for dear life. This is their golden opportunity — the House, the Senate and the White House — to do …read more