Donald Trump’s Russia scandal is already so surreal and unrealistic that if it were the plot of a fictional international spy novel, it would be derided as too unrealistic and banished to the bottom shelf of an airport gift shop. Yet even as Trump was making one cartoonish Trump-Russia remark after another over the weekend, his arguably most jarring assertion managed to slip under the radar.
While speaking with reporters on Air Force One this weekend, Trump made this remark about the heightening investigation into his Russia scandal: “This artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way and that’s a shame. Because people will die because of it. And it’s a pure hit job.” (link) The next day, Trump tried to walk it back, claiming that he was referring to potential deaths in North Korea and Syria – but no one’s buying the notion that that’s what he meant. Some have taken it to mean that Trump is threatening to kill people if the investigation into his scandal continues. But the more realistic interpretation may be that Trump fears Vladimir Putin will kill people if the investigation continues.
That raises the question of just who Putin would kill. He has a long history of murdering journalists, and even his own intelligence officers who have gotten in the way. A startling number of prominent Russians have died since the Trump-Russia scandal began, some of them with clear connections to the scandal, some without. But up to now, Putin is only known to have murdered Russian people, or in a few alleged instances, Ukrainian people, to try to make the scandal go away. However, Trump’s own words suggest that we may be on the cusp of new territory.
It sounds an awful lot like Vladimir Putin said something to Donald Trump this weekend which led to Trump to (correctly or incorrectly) interpret it as a threat to the safety of Trump’s own people. It’s difficult to imagine Putin being reckless enough to try to bring physical harm to the family or associates of President of the United States, as this would surely bring immediate war with Russia, which would quickly turn nuclear, and we’d all die. But Trump sure sounds like he thinks that’s what Putin is now implying. This all just went in an even more surreal direction.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report