Russian Roulette

A couple of times per week I play golf on the Skyway course in Jersey City.  Because it is a links course without trees, from every hole you have a clear view of the tallest building in the city.  It is a rectangular black and white monstrosity that rises high above Journal Square, not exactly the best neighborhood but one that probably soon will be gentrified with the inflow of the tenants of the new building.  Rumor has it that the developers are planning to build two similar towers in the same area.  Those developers are the Kushner family, and to build those towers they need money, which is why Jared Kushner’s sister was peddling green cards in China in exchange for investments.  But the $500 million they need for the towers would not solve all their problems.  There is also a debt of $1.3 billion that has to be paid off in two years on 5th Ave 666, an edifice Jared Kushner bought on a whim of megalomania.  It is unlikely that Kushner’s secret meeting with Sergei Gorkov, the Putin-appointed head of Vnesheconombank, was not about funding for this building.

Like his son-in-law, Donald Trump has frequently been in need of money, and as American banks don’t see him as a good investment anymore he has had to find it abroad.  Nobody knows how much Russian money is invested in the Trump organization, but it must be a considerable amount, and according to Don Trump Jr. even the bulk of its capital.  It explains why Trump from the beginning of his campaign has been extremely friendly to Putin, knowing that the Russian president can put a noose around his neck any time. In that perspective, most of the advance speculation about Friday’s Trump-Putin meeting was unrealistic.  Of course Trump didn’t make a big deal of Russia’s interference in the presidential election.  Contrarily, the day before the meeting he denounced the American intelligence services and disadvantaged himself further by declaring that it could have been Russia but also China or somebody else.  Amusingly, though, he kept blaming Obama for not having been firm enough with Russia, but Trump has not choked on his first contradiction.

It is more than likely that Trump immediately accepted Putin’s denial of Russia’s violating US sovereignty, and that the two then moved on to discussing how their countries can work together to prevent warfare in cyberspace, which, as David Corn observed, would be equivalent to the FBI and the Mafia forming a joint taskforce on crime prevention.  There was some talk of Trump showing strength just by bringing up the hacking, but all Putin saw was an overweight puppet.

Before the meeting Michael McFaul, former US Ambassador in Moscow, said that he hoped the meeting would not last long.  He predicted that Putin would start complaining about Obama, easily finding common ground with Trump, after which he would have Trump in his pocket.  Even Melania Trump agreed and crashed the meeting after one hour, but could not stop it.

Before the meeting Trump tweeted that everybody at the G20 was talking about why John Podesta had not handed over the DNC server to the FBI.  It ranks among his ten craziest tweets and reveals what kind of voices Trump hears in his head, and how focused he was on Putin.

Hugo Kijne

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