Riding the roller coaster of the inexhaustible hyperbole of horrors that is the news cycle since Donald Trump was “elected” the “president” must have inured us to the news of the merely “outrageously shocking.” It wouldn’t be hard to imagine, say, twenty years ago, how we would have responded had a former acting Director of the FBI labeled the President of the United States a Russian asset. Pick any year from back then and insert that as a story, and it would have dominated the headlines for months. Today it’s just another yawner, one of seven impossible things before breakfast.
But it’s true: former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told CNN’s Anderson Cooper this week that it is possible that “President” Donald Trump is a Russian asset, and no matter how bad things get, that is an intrinsically shocking fact, once assimilated. That a man who is traditionally considered the leader of the free world could be, not merely favorably disposed to Russia for helping him win the election, but actually taking orders from its president, orders that are at best contraindicated and at worst lethal for a stable and healthy democracy is, in the vernacular of Trump’s own puppet master, a bolshoi scandal.
The official word from the White House was typical. Kellyanne Conway’s response to McCabe’s assertion was simply, “he’s a liar and a leaker.” A cheap shot, not merely in the usual sense of the phrase “cheap shot,” i.e., tawdry and low, but also in the sense of “inexpensive.” It cost Kellyanne nothing beyond a willingness to assassinate the man’s character. She didn’t feel the need to offer a single piece of evidence contradicting the intelligence that her boss is a Russian asset. Possibly because there is none.
McCabe is promoting his book, “The Threat,” which details his time at the bureau under Trump, and describes his version of interactions with top officials at the White House and Justice Department. The book was released Tuesday and became an overnight bestseller. It reveals that McCabe, like James Comey, was a man who always made detailed written notes immediately after important or controversial meetings, particularly meetings with Trump. His realtime impressions may prove valuable additions in the mounting criminal factual avalanche of evidence against Donald Trump.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.