Back in late July 2016, a reporter for The Washington Post was barred from a Trump rally, evidently because the paper’s honest coverage of the then-Republican presidential candidate was getting to him. About 10 months later, in early May 2017, President Trump disclosed classified intelligence to a Russian diplomat and foreign minister. To make matters worse, Trump only allowed Russian press agents to view the meeting, banning the US media from the Oval Office.
The constant influx in information regarding collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russian officials, primarily as part of the Mueller Investigation, caused this newsflash to eventually be lost in the airwaves. But it did not leave the minds of many members of the United States intelligence community, who see it, and the consequent revelations from the Special Counsel probe, as strong signs that Trump is being manipulated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Related: Trump Preaches Respect For Law Enforcement, An Hour After Dissing FBI
John Brennan and James Clapper, the former directors of the CIA and National Intelligence respectively, first raised this issue publicly in November, when they both agreed that the President was being played by Putin. Since then, many other intelligence professionals and veterans have come forward, either publicly or anonymously, to disclose their own concerns. Many of these are detailed in a disturbing report by Newsweek’s Jeff Stein.
Former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI for Counter-Terrorism and Counter Intelligence Harry B. “Skip” Brandon, for example, commented that Trump “may be the ultimate unwitting asset of Russia” due to his tendency to act on instinct instead of facts, or logic. Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence special agent, tweeted out that the “POTUS is a handlers’ dream. He responds, without fail, to praise and flattery, and telegraphs his day-to-day thoughts on Twitter. Easy peasy.”
Related: Obama’s Spymaster: Trump Is Putin’s ‘Asset’
The most damning declaration, however, came from former CIA national intelligence officer Glenn Carle, who outright stated his belief that “Trump is actually working directly for the Russians.” Whether or not this is true remains to be disclosed in the Special Counsel investigation, but there is no doubt that the President’s actions have angered our allies in Europe and the Middle East. Israeli officials, for instance, were reportedly very angered by Trump’s aforementioned May communications to Russian officials as he divulged key data from an anti-terrorist operation they had conducted. These tensions even extend to the United Kingdom, where the GCHQ remains upset over Trump’s blatantly false accusation that Obama ordered them to spy on him.
Overall, the picture being painted is a very disturbing one: Trump is not only alienating our own intelligence agencies, but also our allies, over his relationship with Russia and Putin. And keep in mind that this is just his first year in office. The theoretical damage he could do will make the next President’s job very difficult.