The Kompromat that Russian President Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump must be devastating. It is the only reasonable explanation for how obsequious Trump has been towards Putin. However, what often goes unmentioned are the clear signs of psychological warfare that is going on. Putin sends subtle messages to Trump that serves as a fresh reminder of who is in control in their uneven relationship. Putin has rushed recaps of his conversations and meetings with Trump to the Russian media, which in turn makes its way to the United States media.
The most infamous example of this phenomenon occurred when Putin insisted Trump meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak shortly after firing FBI Director James Comey. Photos of the glad-handing encounter were promptly leaked to the Russian media and the notoriously thin-skinned Trump had to simply grin and bear it.
Trump’s embarrassing congratulatory call (sans any discussion of bad actions such as poisoning attempts of an ex-spy and his daughter in England) with Putin after winning his sham election received the same treatment of the Kremlin ensuring their “read-out” of the call was disseminated first.
These are neither coincidences or accidents. The relationship between Trump and Putin could easily have been more discreet, but the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to operating behind-the-scenes in a fashion that advanced Russia’s interests. The Kremlin realizes their goals of getting sanctions lifted are almost impossible at this point. Now they want to sow discord in the United States and push their anti-NATO and pro-Syria policies without much interference from the world’s lone supposed Super Power. What better way of continuing Trump’s compliance than letting him know at a time and place of his choosing, Putin will release the Kompromat.
J.H. Norton is a communications professional, life-long Democrat, and married father of two boys living in Washington, D.C.