Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Twelve, March 13, 2018)
Do you like complicated mystery novels that make you keep a list of names and dates so as not to get overwhelmed by clues and complex chronologies (unless you have a super-strong memory)? Are you prone to conspiratorialism? Do you blame Donald Trump’s presence in the White House on Russia and particularly on Vladimir Putin? Do you like to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in? Do you like to get mad at other countries for the nasty things they do (or may have done) while turning a blind eye to the nasty things the United States does? Are you a “progressive” fan of the U.S. “intelligence community” – the FBI, the CIA, NSA and the rest?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then boy, do I have a book for you: Democratic Party journalists Michael Isikoff (Yahoo News) and David Corn’s (Mother Jones) new volume Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.
Don’t get me wrong. Russian Rouletteshould be read by anyone interested in the peculiar and fascinating story of Donald Trump’s weird and disturbing relationship with Russia. It’s a riveting account. It’s the best treatment yet in book form of numerous knotty and bizarre chapters in the strange Trump-Russia saga, including:
+ Trump and top Trump associates’ financial, political, and espionage entanglement with Russian oligarchs, officials, and agents.The list of associates includes Trump’s slimy former campaign director Paul Manafort, Trump’s creepy former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s longtime crypto-fascistic political adviser Roger Stone, Trump’s despicable son-in-law Jared Kushner, and candidate Trump’s goofball foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
+ Trump’s fabled 2013 Miss Universe trip to Moscow and the mysterious sealed letter (its contents have never been revealed) Trump received inside “a black lacquered box” from Putin after the pageant.
+ A Russian journalist’s discovery of the infamous Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” (or was it a “troll factory”?) employing hundreds of proletarianized Russians creating and working with fake Web identities to influence U.S. and Western politics.
+ The alleged Russian Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear-Guccifer 2.0-WikiLeaks- hackings of the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2015 and 2016.
+ “Moscow’s …clandestine propaganda endeavor, stretching across social media platforms, and in sync with the cyberattacks and the output of [Russian state media outlets] RT and Sputnik …to persuade U.S. voters to elect a president who would adopt a softer approach to Russia.”
+ Donald Trump, Jr, Manafort, and Kushner’s infamous meeting with Russian nationals promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton in Trump Tower in June of 2016.
+ The famous and controversial Steele Dossier, a summer 2016 report by Britain’s former top Russian intelligence expert alleging that Russia had cultivated Trump for at least five years and possessed compromising and salacious (yo, golden shower video!) information with which to blackmail the future president.
+ The Trump campaign’s squashing of a Republican Party platform amendment that would have called for arming Ukraine in its war with Russia.
+ The Democratic Party’s panicked, paralyzed response to the “intelligence community’s” reports that that it was under Russian cyber-assault.
+ The Obama administration’s reluctance to forcefully and openly confront Russia on the Kremlin’s alleged subversion of U.S. “democracy.”
Anyone who thinks there’s nothing strange or disturbing about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin has got their head in the sand. Is Trump messed up with Russia? Are you serious? Of course he is. This book is a good place to start on that.
But read it with your bullshit detectors on. Russian Roulette has six basic flaws. First, it does not live up to its sub-title’s promise on Russian president Vladimir Putin. It comes nowhere close to offering smoking-gun evidence of Putin’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or his motives. As the authors admit near the end of the volume, Putin’s role remains “shrouded in mystery.”
Second and related, the volume is technically premature. Special federal prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of the book’s topic is