One of the problems with keeping up with the Trump/Pence Russiagate scandal is the plethora of different threads to the story line. Other than political junkies, many lack the time or the patience to try to stay on top of what is happening and the accumulating evidence that things are very rotten in America in 2018. Trump, of course adds to the confusion via his endless tweet storms aimed at distraction, especially whenever damaging news is leaking. I have noted how it now seems that America is lying a real life spy novel. Now, a new book, "Dirty Rubles" pieces the multiple story lines together and paints a very damning portrait not only of Trump - and his lie repeater, Mike Pence - but the larger GOP that he believes is complicit in the Russiagate scandal. A piece in Salon looks at the book with an interview of its author. Here are some highlights:
Americans would do themselves a gigantic favor by reading the new nonfiction book from acclaimed novelist Greg Olear, “Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia.”Olear brings his sharp literary scalpel to what promises to emerge as one of America’s most enormous and consequential scandals, operating under the belief that it takes a novelist’s ability to understand and tell stories to truly capture the essence of the “stranger than fiction” Trump-Russia conspiracy. The result is a riveting, infuriating and, against all the odds, uplifting book. It's essential reading for all Americans, especially those in the apathetic majority who view Russian meddling in U.S. elections as insignificant.
I recently interviewed Olear about “Dirty Rubles.”
I think it’s hard for people to square the avuncular guy on TV who cracked jokes and fired people with the real Donald J. Trump. The truth is, the guy’s been mobbed up for decades, with ties to both La Cosa Nostra and Russian organized crime. Trump is a money launderer for the latter, and has been for quite some time. “Money laundering” sounds cute, like something Danny Ocean and his merry men do, but it’s a euphemism for something unspeakable. The Russian mob has become so vast and successful because it eagerly participates in the worst of the worst: human trafficking, child pornography, sex slavery, opioids, illegal arms deals, blood diamonds — all the grisly, awful stuff that Trump accuses MS-13 of doing. By taking those dirty rubles and making them legitimate, Trump is a party to all of that.
The media also likes to forget that Trump is a serial rapist and sexual predator. We can use the “allegedly” qualifier if you like, but he has bragged about this on many occasions. There are more than 20 accusers now, and I believe them.
The kompromat, by the way, does not involve tinkling Moscow prostitutes, but far more heinous activities. This is a person who sexually assaulted a reporter from People magazine at his house -- while his wife was home. You don’t think he’s capable of greater depravity halfway around the world, when he thinks no one is watching?
Treason is a vague term. Unlike rape or murder or even petty larceny, it’s not visceral. But it’s the worst crime there is, because Trump actively betrayed 330 million Americans. He conspired with the Russians to contaminate the election, he lied about it, he continues to lie about it, and we have yet to find out exactly what he has promised his Russian master. I’d like to think that Americans across the political spectrum would agree that the POTUS should not be a compromised asset of the Russian Federation.
Helsinki reaffirmed what I’ve known for two years, and what Hillary told us in the debate: Trump is Putin’s puppet. Has a powerful world leader ever presented as submissively, as weakly, as Trump did in Finland? He makes Neville Chamberlain look like Rambo.
Real estate is a good way to launder money, as Trump well knows. Another is campaign finance. So much dark money, so many ways to donate anonymously. It seems clear now, given the latest round of indictments, that Russian money was funneled into the Republican National Committe via the NRA and other avenues. Anyone who took that money is complicit. This is why the Paul Ryans and Dana Rohrabachers and Devin Nuneses of the world have gone to great lengths to throw water on the Mueller investigation, in my estimation. And why so many GOP members of Congress are retiring. They are not trying to save Trump; they are trying to save themselves.
Trump/Russia is a complicated story, with a bunch of different threads. It’s just like a novel — except that it more or less proves the old saw about truth being stranger than fiction.
My book doesn’t cover any new ground. It takes the stuff we already know and gives it narrative structure, to make it easier to absorb for readers lucky enough not to know the difference between Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Gorkov. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m not David Corn, a seasoned Washington bureau chief with sources out the wazoo. I’m not James Comey, who has intimate first-hand knowledge of the events.
And I’m certainly not Michael Wolff, who basically crashed the Trump party and wrote about it in a lurid but lame way. I’m a long-form writer who has carefully followed Trump/Russia, who has written and tweeted about it for almost two years — who has done the research, as a historical novelist might say — and I’m telling the story the best way I know how to tell it. I’m perfectly, if not uniquely, qualified to do that.
As I wrote in the book, Donald Trump comprises the gravest existential threat to the republic since the Civil War. That is not hyperbole. But here’s the thing: if the American experiment is going to end, it won’t be because of that fucking guy. In that, I have the fullest confidence.