Throughout the November impeachment hearings, House Republicans clamored for proof positive that the President conditioned support for Ukraine upon delivery of personal political favors. They apparently overlooked some of the best evidence– the White House transcript of the July 25 conversation in which Trump personally asked President Zelensky for campaign-related investigations. Additional proof may reside in documents that the administration has refused to produce. However, even better proof very likely exists in the archives of the Kremlin.
Trump and his subordinates were extremely careless in protecting the security of their electronic communications. Gordon Sondland was chatting with Trump about the Ukraine investigations at a restaurant in Kiev. He dialed the President on his unsecure cell phone and the two spoke within the hearing of whoever was in the vicinity. Sondland testified that he spoke with Trump about 20 times during the Ukraine drama.
Any American diplomat who sets foot in Ukraine can count on having his or her cell phone hacked in short order. In 2014, the Russians leaked an embarrassing recording of a secure phone call between the State Department and a former ambassador to Ukraine. If the Russians can hack a secure call, it would be child’s play to intercept and record cell phone conversations. They excel at cyberwarfare.
Rudy Giuliana was repeatedly on his cell phone with Trump during the effort to force the announcement of the campaign-related investigations. It is a virtual certainty that the Russians have an archive of intercepted cell phone calls and text messages between and among Trump, Giuliani, Sondland and others, relating to the Ukraine scandal. It is unlikely the Ruskies would turn it over to House Republicans. It would be too valuable as kompromat– compromising or incriminating material for use as blackmail. It is highly likely that Putin will use the recordings to get what he wants from Trump.
There is precedent for the lax security practiced by the President and his staff. During the 2016 election campaign there were over 140 contacts between the Russians and people in the Trump campaign and it does not appear that communication security was observed then.
Since taking office, the President has reportedly held conversations on his cell phone with Putin and has conversed privately with him and other Russian officials on a number of occasions. We have learned of several such conversations from Russian media, including a 2017 White House meeting with two top Russians diplomats. It is likely that the Kremlin archive includes notes and recordings of some of the 2016 campaign contacts, subsequent off-the-record calls and meetings, and even contacts Trump had with Russia many years earlier.
The existence of an archive of kompromat would explain the countless times that Trump has espoused Kremlin talking points over the last several years–publicly questioning the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence that the Russians attacked our 2016 election, parroting Russian intelligence claims that Ukraine interfered in that election, acquiescing to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, trying multiple times to cancel sanctions against Russia for its aggression against Ukraine, and so on.
Last December, Vladimir Frolov, a Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst said, “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving.” He explained: “Trump implements Russia’s negative agenda by default, undermining the U.S.-led world order, U.S. alliances, U.S. credibility as a partner and an ally. All of this on his own. Russia can just relax and watch and root for Trump, which Putin does at every TV appearance.” Maybe these actions are not solely on Trump’s own, but helped along with a little friendly persuasion from the Kremlin archive.