Former National Security Agency analyst John R. Schindler wrote an op-ed in the Observer, noting that Robert Mueller and his Special Counsel investigation may not be US President Donald Trump’s main concern.
This week saw Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, stand up in court and confess to lying to Congress regarding his client’s dealings with Russia during his 2016 presidential campaign. The admission could have severe consequences for Trump and his presidency, as Mueller is rumored to be nearing the end of his almost two-year-long investigation into claims Trump was colluding with Russia during his campaign.
According to Schindler, the Trump Organization “showed off its stunning ineptitude” with its reported discussions to give Putin the $50 million penthouse in the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project that was ongoing at that time. Per Cohen, he had repeatedly reached out to Russians during 2016 in efforts to get the project going, after Trump had been trying to make it happen for decades already.
During those conversations, Cohen and others working with Trump even stooped so low as to offer to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a penthouse suite in the tower, valued at approximately $50 million. In the course of those many conversations, high-ranking government officials were also added to the phone book, not just private businesses.
Unsurprisingly, Trump lashed out at Cohen after his confession, and demanded an end to Mueller’s investigation, calling it an “illegal hoax,” as he starts to feel some real heat from it.
Trump also did admit via Twitter from Argentina that he had indeed had business interests in Russia while on the campaign trail, but added that he had ultimately put up “zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project.”
Regardless of the current direction of the Mueller investigation, Schindler is convinced that he has a much bigger problem on his plate at the moment: Vladimir Putin.
“The Kremlin’s displeasure with its erstwhile friend, rising for months, has risen to hazardous levels for the White House. The breaking point is Ukraine. Last weekend, Putin’s Federal Security Service engineered an armed confrontation in the Black Sea, grabbing two Ukrainian navy patrol boats and their crews as booty,” Schindler writes.
Trump’s somewhat lukewarm response to the crisis, that “hopefully it will get straightened out,” has not gone down well among world leaders. Schindler believes it has also angered the Kremlin, which expected Trump to back Russia up, or at the very least not comment on it at all. Trump only added fuel to the fire when he — via Twitter — canceled his scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20 summit.
Moscow was livid, not helped by the inclusion of social media in the cancellation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov made a statement regarding Trump, warning that it could have serious consequences.
“We regret the decision of the U.S. administration to cancel the scheduled meeting of the two presidents in Buenos Aires,” adding that Trump’s “rude move means that discussion of serious issues on the international and bilateral agenda is being postponed indefinitely.”
This statement leaves in no doubt who Russia considers to be in charge of the Russia-US relationship. And Schindler adds that what Russia knows about Trump could easily be used against him if he continues to further anger the Kremlin and Putin.
To conclude, the former national security expert laid bare what he believes Trump’s 2016 presidential run was really all about.
“The ridiculous hidden truth about Donald Trump’s run for the White House is that it was a publicity stunt, an effort by the reality TV showman to up his brand and cash in. Trump’s desire to make “his” Moscow tower happen during the campaign demonstrates what our 45th president’s real priorities were. Neither Trump nor any of his key advisers in 2016 actually planned to win the race. Yet, somehow, they did.”