Trump’s weakest spot

After the US Supreme Court had ruled on two cases concerning president Trump’s tax returns, Elaine Komarck of Brookings wrote:

This week’s Supreme Court decisions on Donald Trump’s finances and tax returns will allow us to finally answer the question that has hung over his presidency from the earliest days:

Is Donald Trump a brilliant businessman and a visionary statesman or is he a bogus billionaire who has been propped up by Russian money?

It’s unlikely to be as binary as this. It might be closer to “an average businessman and a below-average statesman propped up by kind-of-Russian money at critical moments of his career.” To repeat myself:

If you were in the real estate business in NYC, London or Toronto in the late 1980s, the 1990s or the noughties, there’s no way you could have avoided dealing with shady operators of Soviet or third-world extraction. I can’t tell if the cash inflow from the former USSR into UK and US real estate was greater than the combined investment from other sources, but I believe it was large enough so no major operator could avoid benefiting from it.

Was any of that money channeled to Trump upon request from the Kremlin? That’s going to be the next big question. Answering it may require years of additional investigative work. To Komarck, it appears the most sensible route to take if one is looking to rationalize Trump’s apparent weakness for and with Putin. Komarck outlines three possibilities:

Trump’s romance with Putin has never been easily explained. It is unlikely that it is a case of “kompromat,” which is usually associated with sexual or personal misconduct of one sort or another…

“Unlikely” because Trump – she believes – is impervious to attacks on this front. All the past revelations, accusations and confessions have so far failed to undo him.

The other explanation that comes to mind stems from Trump’s out of control narcissism…

The final explanation might be found in his financial dealings.

This is how I put it a couple of weeks ago:

It must be kompromat, then? As a working hypothesis, something personal rather than political. A video that would completely destroy Trump psychologically if made public. More likely, files that would bankrupt his family business and/or lead to charges against some of the family members.

Perhaps Komarck’s second explanation – Trump being vulnerable to psychological manipulation and exploitation – is the key to it all and deserves to be elevated to meta status as the master hypothesis.

If not, it may still tie in nicely with her first tentative explanation if there exists evidence of Trump’s misconduct that portrays him in less than alpha light. Something to make him look ridiculous. Pathetic. Humiliated. Footage of him “worshiping” a “Chinese”-looking “Mistress” while she is making fun of his – OK, OK – small hands. That sort of thing.

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