There is evidence that the Trump-Russia scandal is developing in a way that has alarmed the Kremlin1. This was clearly shown by the wording of a response to questions at a briefing by Maria Zakharova, Foreign Ministry spokesperson. The double-barrelled question asked was: “How do you see the future of Russian-US diplomatic relations in the context of the current atmosphere in Washington? Can you confirm that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will come to Moscow in April?”. The answer came as a large amount of diplomatic stuff, explaining the fact that the Russians do not know what the US will do, but whatever happens they will be ready. Details regarding the Tillerson visit clearly are still up in the air, as nothing concrete was mentioned. However, towards the end of the answer to this question Ms Zakharova stated “….I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s term in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information”2.
This is, in essence, saying: stop leaking details of links with Russia and we won’t embarrass you with what we know. This is a pretty desperate threat, as I expect that republicans who are not Trump fans, would give their eye teeth to be able to severely embarrass Obama, and if Trump goes down in the interim, all the better.
As I have said previously3, if Russia has compromised Trump, which is a fairly likely scenario given their propensity for trying to compromise just about anybody, and Trump’s narcissism and hence his susceptibility to such compromise, it may come back to bite Putin, especially if the Trump presidency starts to unravel. Clearly, Russia thinks it will unravel, as looks more and more likely, given the occasional leaks, which so annoy Moscow. Trump’s main mistake with the media, was telling them that they were all fake news or were not welcome, or both, while at the same time getting his ‘news’ from sites which actually deal in fake news (Breitbart, Infowars, Faux). Nothing could be designed to make the press more determined to winkle out every skerrick or relevant information and slot it into the whole fiasco that is the Trump presidency.
There have also been numerous Russians bite the dust in recent weeks, some of whom had knowledge or contact with people involved in the Trump campaign. If this is the Russians attempting to tie up loose ends, they must be very desperate indeed. As I said before3, the reaction to Trump’s unraveling may be something Putin hadn’t bargained on.