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Opinion: Trump and Giuliani may be useful to Putin, but they're no idiots

October 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Last month, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman called Trump Putin's useful idiot. And while I agree that Trump and Giuliani may be useful to Russia, they aren't idiots on this front -- no one is duping them, writes Samantha Vinograd.

(CNN)President Donald Trump is a consistent creature in a lot of respects, especially when it comes to helping Russia and hurting the US.

That's why new reports that US intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was being targeted by Russian intelligence come as no surprise.

US intelligence officials-- according to four former officials, cited by the Washington Post as familiar with the matter-- were concerned that Giuliani, who was interacting with people linked to Russian intelligence, would act as a foot soldier in Moscow's information warfare against the US and feed misinformation back to Trump.

While he likes to play the implausible ignorance card on issues like QAnon, it's impossible that Trump doesn't know that he's helped Russia by siccing Giuliani on Biden, retweeting Russian propaganda or spreading lies that Trump's own senior intelligence official says our foreign adversaries are taking advantage of.

The fact is, that's likely why so many Trump team members have been targeted by Russian intelligence: At this point it seems Trump and his inner circle are willing to help Russia as long as there is some perceived personal, financial or political gain on the table.

The Russians likely know that the President doesn't mind being surrounded by counterintelligence risks (former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats thought Trump himself may be compromised and an active counterintelligence concern, according to Bob Woodward's book "Rage") as long as he gets what he thinks he needs to stay in power.

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