Wherever Donald Trump goes, salacious details follow. Jonathan Manthorpe doesn't believe the salacious stuff. He writes:
Intelligence reports don’t work that way. They’re usually a jigsaw puzzle of hints and scraps that require much sorting out by highly experienced analysts to form a consistent picture. Even then, the analysts can’t be sure they’ve got it right.
And there are many unbelievable elements within the documents themselves. For example, the repeated claim that Putin “fears” a Clinton presidency doesn’t ring true. It’s known that Putin despises Clinton, blaming her for inciting unrest in Russia after parliamentary elections in 2011 and in advance of his orchestrated return to the presidency in 2012. But Putin has survived as Russia’s leader since 1999, and is preparing for another six-year term in elections next year. There’s no reason to believe he truly feared Clinton posed a threat to his plans.
But that doesn't matter:
There are still good reasons to accept that Putin wanted Trump to win the U.S. presidency, and that the Kremlin’s spy agencies were put to work undermining Clinton’s campaign. The joint report published on January 6 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency is unequivocal on that point.
The conclusion that Putin preferred Trump in the White House is utterly logical. Trump has on several occasions expressed what sounds like admiration for Putin and his firm rule (most would call it ‘authoritarian’). Trump also has expressed the hope that relations between Washington and Moscow, which have been on a steady downward slide since Putin came to power, can be improved.
Putin’s big hope is that the Trump administration lifts or eases sanctions imposed on Moscow in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its occupation of large tracts of eastern Ukraine and its murder of Putin’s political opponents at home. Russia’s economy is overly dependent on oil and gas exports at the best of times. Low international prices for energy have hit Russia hard; the sanctions have made matters worse.
It's interesting that this information has been shopped around for months as opposition research for Trump's opponents -- both Republicans and Democrats. The CIA was not the source. But Trump -- with typical impulsiveness -- accused the intelligence community of leaking the material.
National Public Radio used to broadcast a show with two MIT educated auto mechanics, the Magliozzi Brothers. They joked about folks who they claimed were "unencumbered by the thought process." Regardless of whether or not the latest sound and fury is true, it's becoming more and more obvious that the president elect is one of the people they were talking about.