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Sounds great! (Image via @LiberalResist)

Curious story yesterday. A previously undisclosed, secretive but apparently animated chat between Putin and Trump at the G20 meeting. What could they have been talking about?

Questions continue to swirl around the Trump Tower meeting. Did the President know? When did he find out? What did he do about it? So far, they are based on two broad assumptions, that Trump knew nothing about the meeting beforehand and was told nothing of it afterwards. No real suggestion, as yet, that the POTUS was in any way implicated. The American people are, after all, admirably reluctant to rush to judgement. There’s a touching, almost palpable, respect for the office of the POTUS. The American people did, after all, give Richard Nixon the benefit of the doubt for well over a year.

But what if we are asking the wrong questions? What if he were in it up to his neck? And from the get-go? What if he authorised the meeting? What if he set the agenda? Which of course leads on to even more interesting questions. What was the quid pro quo? What did the Russians want in return? Did the “Let’s Make a Deal” President make a deal?”  And if so, what was it? Or, to put this another way; what has he done to help Russia since being sworn in?

Now, I’d be the first to admit that there’s no hard evidence in support of this conspiracy theory, but if the POTUS can get away with it …

But, still... if a deal had been struck, it would  go some way to explaining the President’s relentless campaign against the Russian conspiracy theorists — the ridicule, the ludicrous attempts to shift the blame, the sackings, the denials:

"I know nothing about Russia. I know ... I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don't deal there. I have no businesses there. I have no loans from Russia."

This is my favourite:

It all reeks of “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove a thing!"

And here’s another thought... If a deal had been struck, a few of the more bizarre foreign policy initiatives from the White House would start to make some kind of sense.

“We’ll have the dachas back”

A dacha is a well-appointed holiday house, a weekend getaway for hard working Russian diplomats, bureaucrats and businessmen, which in Russia tends to be pretty much the same thing these days. And now the Russians want their dachas back.

Last year and honestly you couldn’t make this stuff up, the Obama Administration concluded that the Russians were meddling in the election campaign. To show they meant business, they confiscated two spacious, luxurious, Russian-occupied compounds in Long Island and Maryland which, they maintained, were being used for spying.

The UK Russian Embassy was swift to respond. Speaking on behalf of the American people – which let’s face it doesn’t happen very often – it ripped Obama a new one.

And that, strangely enough, was the extent of Russian retaliation. None of the usual tit-for-tat expulsions and confiscations. Nothing. First time ever. Did they know something we didn’t? Fucking unbelievable!

The eagle-eyed reader will have noted that the dachas were referred to as "compounds" by the Obama administration. The word has sinister overtones. Compounds are all concrete bunkers, hi-tech surveillance and security equipment, and armed guard dogs patrolling razor-wire perimeter fences. 

There’s a world of difference between a weekender and a compound, isn’t there?

In any case, they’re dachas again now — and rightly so if the photos are any indication. High level discussions are underway involving Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon for the return, not just of the dachas, but presumably also the 35 "diplomats" who were expelled as spies.

And won’t they be working their arses off for the next three years, what with congressional elections in 2018, not to mention governorships up for grabs? Local Elections, state elections, judges, prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs, dogcatchers. Americans love elections!

And then the "Big One" for 2020 — getting the President re-elected. A slogan already in the pipeline: 'Make America More Great Again'. Should just about fit on those red caps.

The disinterested observer might well ask: What possible reason could there be in the current environment to even entertain the notion of returning properties confiscated from the Russians because of their alleged election meddling?

Fair question.

My guess is that on return to the rightful tenants, the dachas will become the preferred locations for future interactions between Russian counter-intelligence agents and the President’s inner circle. Away from prying eyes, as it were.

Please, my God, can’t you stop this?

Further economic sanctions were imposed by the Obama administration, many of them through executive orders.

You’ll never guess, then, what the first priority of the "Make America Great Again" administration was:

Former official: Trump seemed prepared to lift Russia sanctions 'in exchange for absolutely nothing'

Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow

Daniel Fried was the chief co-ordinator of the U.S. sanctions policy; he reported receiving

'... in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”'

BREAKING NEWS

Undisclosed sources have indicated that there was a witness to the secret G20 conversation between Trump and Putin. A coffee waiter, identified only as Sergei, the grandson of White Russian aristocracy, maintained that he had overheard and understood snatches of the conversation, while admitting that he only retained a few words of his ancestral tongue.

“I heard the word dacha a lot”, he said:

Oh, and cyka… And mudak...

And blyat... Cyka blyat.

Putin said that a lot too.

It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

Only if you’re a conspiracy theorist, mind.

You can follow Jim McArdle on Twitter @JamesMcArdle7.

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