TRUMPISTAN WATCH obtained a copy over the weekend of Michael Wolff’s instant bestseller, Fire and Fury. To the TRUMPISTAN WATCHian who sent it over, thank you. Besides the controversies that have emerged and the authoritarian retrograde way in which Trump and his team of lawyers have tried to suppress the work, it has ricocheted across the internet and in turn, American mass culture. As soon as the first excerpt hit the first week of 2018, it consumed all channels of mass media in the United States for days and through the weekend. So it is only appropriate that a book derided as full of falsehoods by the team of incompetent hacks that surrounds our fake Russian president, who have made a practice of crying “fake news” any time the truth wounds them, may be sunk individually and eventually collectively in the public’s view by a book that might not be totally accurate (but is in fact rather well written).
As one NATO communication slogan has it, “Perception becomes reality.” Given TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s focus on Russia and our treasonous puppet president’s ties to that country, TRUMPISTAN WATCH thought it might be worthwhile to peek between the covers and unearth what it had to say about Russia. As the media coverage around the release of this book becomes its own phenomena, TRUMPISTAN WATCH believes much of what is written in Fire and Fury will be codified in time into the public’s general acceptance of what occurred during this tumultuous period of history given the book’s extreme accessibility, breezy flow and omnipresence among mass media. While a tell all book might not be the best or most natural source for information into the investigation of the fake president’s wheeling and dealing with Russia, it is in the spirit of “perception becomes reality” that TRUMPISTAN WATCH has bothered to annotate what “Fire and Fury” says about Trump and Russia.
Herewith, what “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff has to say as far as it concerns Trump and Russia:
- On Roger Ailes warning Trump about the clouds of the Russia investigation gathering on the horizon:
- On Trump’s war with the intelligence community over Russia + the beginnings of the “deep state” conspiracy Trump claims against him prior to Inauguration:
- On day one of his term, Trump gave a speech at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia in front of the CIA’s Memorial Wall for its fallen agents. Wolff sets the scene:
Here is the speech in its entirety:
It was received as if the Russians had sent a Kremlin troll directly to Langley to spit on the CIA’s most sacred of sites, its memorial wall, and curse them on day one of this brave new antidemocratic and illiberal era of declining American leadership. Or in Wolff’s words:
- On Yates informing White House Counsel Don McGahn of then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with then Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period:
- on not managing the press as the Russia scandal mounted early on:
- On the White House, Congress and “deep state” (intelligence community + Department of Justice) reactions in the early days to Trump and the evolving reporting from the intelligence community and the press about his and his aides relationship with Russia:
- On Franklin Foer’s July 4, 2016 story, “Putin’s Puppet,” in The New Republic, described by Wolff as, “an early case a Trump-Putin conspiracy”:
The characters Wolff lists include:
- Tevfik Arif: “a former Russian official who ran the Bayrock Group,” which helped to develop Trump Soho.
- Felix Sater: a mafia crony turned federal informant who spent time in jail and worked for Arif and the Bayrock Group; Wolff notes he “had a business card identfying him as a senior advisor to Donald Trump.”
- Carter Page: an energy consultant turned Trump foreign policy advisor who had been the subject of recruitment efforts by Russian spies based in New York a few years prior to joining the Trump campaign.
- Michael Flynn: the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who had gone to Russia to appear at the Russian state-run RT gala where he shared a table with Putin and U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, among others. Wolff notes Flynn was “fired by Obama for unclear reasons”.
- Paul Manafort: the international political consultant who counted ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia in disgrace at the culmination of the Maidan protests in February 2014.
As Wolff wryly notes, “More than a year later, each of these men would be part of the near-daily Russia-Trump news cycle.” The remaining theories:
- On the reaction in the White House + of opposition to the intelligence community’s conclusions that Putin had ordered an election attack on the U.S.:
- On the downfall of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor 24 days into the administration:
As Wolff notes, “On February 13, twenty-four days into the new administration, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn became the first actual link between Russia and the White House.” We learn Michael Ledeen, “a long time anti-Iran and anti-CIA crony, and co-author of Flynn’s book, whose daughter now worked for Flynn–advised Flynn that he ought not accept fees from Russia” and avoid “the larger ‘consulting’ assignments from Turkey.”
- On The Washington Post breaking the story of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak which led to his ouster 24 days into Trump’s tenure in the White House:
For a February 9, 2016 story in The Washington Post, “National security advisor Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say,” Flynn was asked directly the day before by reporter Karen DeYoung, “Did you talk to the Russians about sanctions?” Flynn responded at first:
The Post story “contained new leaked details of the Kislyak phone call, which the Post now said had indeed dealt with the issue of sanctions,” in Wolff’s words. Then the fallout:
And the bizarre spectacles + lies to emerge as a result:
- On reports emerging that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak emerging in The Washington Post:
- On reports emerging the same day, March 1, 2017, in The New York Times that several officials close to Trump had met in various European cities with individuals linked to the Kremlin directly:
Wolff notes, “as Hicks related it to the president, it appeared to him to be good news.”
- On a New Yorker story, “Trump, Putin, and The New Cold War“.
Wolff describes New Yorker editor David Remnick (a former correspondent in Moscow and author of Lenin’s Tomb) as having, “since the election, propounded an absolutist view that Trump’s election imperiled democratic norms.” In Wolff’s view, The New Yorker piece illustrates that unlike the Cold War, “The difference was that in this one, the ultimate result was Donald Trump — he was the nuclear bomb.” The Trump camp believed Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, “One of the frequently quoted sources in the article,” was in the Trumpworld view, “a key leaker”. In other words, “Rhodes, many in the White House believed, was the deep state.”
- White House reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia the following day, March 2, 2017:
- On then FBI Director James Comey’s March 21, 2017 testimony before the House intelligence committee where he refused to say, as Trump wanted, that Trump was not under investigation:
Comey confirmed that the FBI, “as part of our counterintelligence mission,” was “investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” as well as, “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government”. Comey further revealed the FBI was investigating, “whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Then, in Wolff’s telling, “Comey dismissed the wiretap allegation,” Trump had come up with on Twitter to launch his counter-attack against the combined forces of the intelligence community and former Obama officials that would come to be termed “deep state”.
- On the attack launched against a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun, Syria by the Assad regime:
- On the firing of then FBI Director James Comey and his next day Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in May 2017:
- On Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s baller move of appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in response to Trump’s firing of Comey:
- On a May 26, 2017 report in The Washington Post, “Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin“:
According to Michael Wolff, “The Jarvanka side believed that Bannon was the source.”
- On the widening Special Counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller:
According to Wolff, “everybody believed that if the investigation moved into the long chain of Trump financial transactions, it would almost certainly reach the Trump family and the White House.”
- On former FBI Director James Comey’s June 8, 2017 testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, a televised event that became known as “Comey Day”. It was on “Comey Day,” when he famously uttered, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes!” The tapes, Comey believed, would confirm his memos concerning private conversations he had with Trump, which Comey admittedly helped facilitate the leak of to The New York Times:
- On the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that we know now was attended by Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump, Jr. and representing Russia’s interests were Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, “translator” Anatoli Samochornov, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, Agalarov family fixer Irakli “Ike” Kaveladze and Emin Agalarov’s British manager Rob Goldstone. Trump Jr. had been promised dirt on the Clinton campaign in an e-mail from Goldstone which led to the meeting:
After theorizing on the possible reasons for the meeting, Wolff returns to Bannon who says the words that have led to the removal of his status as Trumpistani elite:
And Wolff on the fallout:
- On the implications for Jared Kushner and the Kushner family of the Special Counsel’s investigation:
- Bannon on Donald Trump Jr. and Trump aide Hope Hicks’ exposure to the evolving scandal:
- When Jared spoke and delivered a statement on July 24, 2017 in front of the White House after speaking to the Senate intelligence committee:
In conclusion, there is simply not much of anything here dedicated TRUMPISTAN WATCHians did not know already beyond Bannon’s strong words against Jr., which he has since walked back from and claimed were in fact about Paul Manafort, the since indicted former campaign manager before Bannon took over. It is no wonder then that this is what made the headlines. Beyond that, the book is very gentle on Trump, digs very little beyond the surface of palace intrigues and generally reads like a 300 page long People Magazine article. The characters are more pitiable than corrupt. The end result is the sort of feeling that washes over you when you see “Stars, they are just like you!” columns in the glossies. And this is of course total horse shit. Unless you have spent your career hanging out with mobsters, running up piles of debt, finding yourself in compromising situation, repeatedly molesting and assaulting women and ensconced in a protective bubble or privilege from consequences, this is not you and can never be you. For real, how many stories of child rape and treason about you are there out there? Hopefully none. Trump is not every man, thank god.
Trump’s business empire appears to have been built on specious deals with specious individuals. He surrounds himself with money but not the ordinary money of men (they are almost always men in so-called modern, twenty first century America) who build impressive Fortune 500 companies. None of these truths are really in “Fire and Fury”. Instead, Trump’s total corruption is rather portrayed like that of the racist grandpa or uncle, the one you shrug off as well, he’s harmless if distasteful. Most sinisterly, “Fire and Fury” seems to bolster a certain “deep state” thesis as Ailes admonishes Trump early in the book to watch his back for the intelligence community. Then the storm clouds brew until the conclusion where we pretty much see what TRUMPISTAN WATCH has labeled a “soft coup” in the past: Kelly’s takeover led to the ouster of the cabal of crazies and loose cannons. The important parenthesis here Wolff puts around his narrative gives us a capsule, however, of what it truly means when a foreign adversary, who only wishes us ill and looks on with such envy at everything we have, displaces everything about our democratic system with its own imitation of it.
TRUMPISTAN WATCH urges everyone to read “Fire and Fury” given that the attention it has received and the fact that most members of the media have now read it will dictate tone and tenor of coverage for some time to come. As a result, “perception becomes reality” and we must be on guard for every effort to normalize a very sick leader buttressed constantly by an increasingly sycophantic party, sympathetic media, and everyone’s desire to normalize what is increasingly a completely abnormal situation for a country that wishes to call itself democratic and remain so. The decline of American power and values need not be total before both can be revitalized.
FINAL NOTE: All material from “Fire and Fury” is copyrighted and shared here for educational and informational purposes of analysis and commentary. TRUMPISTAN WATCH directs you to buy the book if you wish to read more. TRUMPISTAN WATCH also recognizes that for some in the media world, reading and sharing this material may be akin to the intelligence community’s dim view of reading cables or other material released by WikiLeaks. As TRUMPISTAN WATCH is dedicated to media monitoring all things Trump and Russia, TRUMPISTAN WATCH has opted to include Wolff’s work given the tremendous press it generated the first week of 2018, its dominance as a narrative that is filtering through all forms of mass media and because it is readily accessible in the public domain. TRUMPISTAN WATCH did not seek or pursue this material but its ubiquity, the buzz it generated and Trump’s extreme reaction ensured it was readily available and in the public domain. TRUMPISTAN WATCH received the material from a reader and long-time acquaintance. Once something is out there, it is not possible to ignore or put the genie back in the bottle.