Guardian foreign correspondent Harding (The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, 2014, etc.) offers a sneak peek at details of the “Steele dossier” that have yet to unfold—and the evidence is damning indeed.
Apart from his well-known work documenting Edward Snowden’s exposé of American intelligence, the author has logged considerable time as a reporter inside Russia. It was there that he gained firsthand information about the ways of the Putin kleptocracy that lends credence to reports proffered by British intelligence analyst Christopher Steele, who in turn has extensively documented contacts with members of the team working with Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, many of them subsequently placed inside the administration. Harding makes no bones of characterizing this as collusion, as the title of his book proclaims, and the crime committed by that collusion as treason, even if “vehemently denied, contested, and in certain key respects unprovable.” Some of those respects have since gained a broader airing with the arraignments of Paul Manafort and Carter Page, though many key players on the Russian side will be far from household names. Harding is at his best connecting dots that may not always be obvious, including Trump’s long history of business dealings with Russia and alleged connections to organized crime (“Trump’s links to the underworld were multifarious”), dealings that were often unsuccessful enough to force him into borrowing money from shady figures and cutting deals that may land him in prison before it’s all over. Among the most intriguing of the threads are Trump’s astoundingly checkered relations with a German banking giant that continued to lend him money even as the worst of credit risks—and that at the same time was laundering Russian money, “not small amounts but many billions of dollars.” If readers emerge from this fast-paced narrative convinced that the Trump White House is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian oligarchs, then there’s good reason for it.
Collusion? The Trump administration, by Harding’s account, is soaking in it. Stay tuned.