What is Putin blackmailing Trump with?

Despite his fiery and controversial statements, American President Donald Trump knows how to stand on the edge of the abyss. This was true until three days ago when his foot slipped in the press conference with Russian President Putin.

For the first time since he’s become president, he quickly retreated and attributed the reason to not expressing himself right. He noted that he did not intend to underestimate the importance of the results, which the American intelligence revealed about the Russians’ meddling in the last presidential elections.

It’s a feigned excuse but the stubborn Trump did not tolerate the heat of the enemy and friendly fire, especially by his Republican friends. It is thus smart to quickly retreat and deprive his rivals of the massive hostile momentum which would be employed to weaken his popularity and depict him as weak, traitor and complicit.

ALSO READ: Trump says he misspoke on Russia election meddling

Trump admitted the meddling happened and stated that before without any enthusiasm. However, he rejects two important accusations, which the Democrats stir up. The first thing he rejects is the notion that the meddling impacted the final results, i.e. the system was thus not manipulated and he did not attain fake votes.

This is true and there isn’t any single evidence stating otherwise. The reason he repeatedly rejects this is because any acknowledgement by him means delegitimizing him as president, underestimating the importance of his victory and increasing the continuous calls to impeach him.

What’s new in Trump’s case is that there is clear and frank hostility by influential figures who worked in the American intelligence or the FBI until recently and whom Trump fired

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

Collusion theory

The second charge he rejects is that there was collusion between him and the Russians. This accusation has been echoed since he arrived in the White House and it hasn’t been proven until now and will mostly probably never be.

All talk that Putin and the Russian intelligence have dangerous documents, which they used to blackmail Trump and make him act smoothly with Russia or act with Putin like a teenage girl in love are mere conspiracy scenarios that are good for thrillers and spy movies as none of this has been proven.

An earlier report said Trump slept with prostitutes in Russia where he was organizing a beauty pageant but it turned out to be entirely fabricated.

ALSO READ: Trump says he holds Putin personally responsible for election meddling

However why does Trump appear to have this appeasing behavior with Russian President Putin? It is most probably for purely political and economic reasons. Years ago, President Barack Obama rebuked Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee running against him in the elections, when he said Russia was America’s number one foe.

At the time, Democrats were the ones who called the most for dialogue and rapprochement with Russia. It’s most likely that Hillary Clinton would do the same as Trump in terms of extending bridges with Russia and cooperating as much as possible to resolve problems from North Korea until Syria.

This is what most former presidents did as they opened diplomatic channels with Moscow since the days of Roosevelt. Even during the peak of the Cuban missiles’ crisis, mutual letters were still exchanged between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

All the smart Democrats’ attack on Trump following his lapse would be praise if Trump belonged to their party. In the end, it’s a rough violent political partisan fight but within the limits of the acceptable.

Clear and frank hostility

What’s new in Trump’s case is that there is clear and frank hostility by influential figures who worked in the American intelligence or the FBI until recently and whom Trump fired, like James Comey who published an entire book about Trump after he was fired and described him as morally unfit to be president. During recent crisis, he posted a tweet frankly calling on people to stand by Democrats.

In a text message, Peter Strzok, one of the high-ranking officials investigating Russian inference in the elections: “We’ll stop a Trump presidency”, in reply to his terrified mistress.

In another text, he mocked Trump’s supporters saying they smelled bad. Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan does not stop attacking Trump and calling for his impeachment. Following the Helsinki meeting, he has even accused Trump of high treason.

ALSO READ: Helsinki Summit aftermath: Domestic discord for Trump or ‎end of Cold War?

There are a number of prominent disgruntled figures who make Trump be suspicious of these secret apparatus and make him believe they are tracking him. Add to that the media’s stance toward him and the picture will be clearer: A president who is underestimated and whom no one thought will win is confronting strong and influential figures in the deep-rooted institutions in Washington who frankly admit they hate him and seek to get rid of him.

It is certain that this will create bitter enmity between the two sides. When he committed a mistake next to Putin, they did not hesitate and pulled out their knives but this time they will only wound him and not kill him as they hope.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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