The Corner

Politics & Policy

What to Make of the ‘Kompromat’ Story?

Obviously, the first response to all of this is that nothing is corroborated. Okay, actually the first response is probably, “Whoa!”

A few very quick responses in no particular order:

1) It could all be entirely false. I am sure some of it is.

2) I think Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the memo without confirming it is questionable at the very least.

3) Even when it’s a (potentially) horrible news story for Trump, you have to admire his ability to steal the oxygen from everyone else, in this case Barack Obama who is giving his Farewell Address tonight. I suspect even Obama’s biggest fans in the media will be struggling to pay attention, given the Trump buzz.

4) If Trump cancels his press conference tomorrow, he will look like he’s hiding. If he holds his press conference tomorrow as scheduled, we will be in uncharted waters.

5) Substantively, I think the best quick reaction to the explosive — and unverified — allegations about the Russians having compromising information about Donald Trump is from the Lawfare Blog. You should definitely read the whole thing. But I think this point is particularly important:

Fourth, it is significant that the document contains highly specific allegations, many of which are the kind of facts it should be possible to prove or disprove. This is a document about meetings that either took place or did not take place, stays in hotels that either happened or didn’t, travel that either happened or did not happen. It should be possible to know whether at least some of these allegations are true or false.

5a) I think the above is important for two reasons. First it highlights why Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the report is going to be second-guessed by a lot of people and may bring legal action. There are a lot of facts that could have been corroborated before publication.

5b) If Trump can disprove some/any of the specific allegations in the report, it will likely do more to inoculate him than cripple him. If he can’t disprove any of the specific allegations, his presidency will be wounded, perhaps more mortally.

6) Even if this whole thing is a complete fabrication, there’s still the vexing question: Why is admiration for Putin and his government the only issue Trump has never wavered, equivocated, or flip-flopped on? If these allegations are false, that question still remains.

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