By Mayank Chhaya
Even by the standards of the malignancies that surround US President Donald Trump personally, the one reported by The New York Times on January 11 was stunning in its implication.
The Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had opened a counterintelligence investigation to ascertain if the President was a Russian agent in the aftermath of him firing the agency’s director, James Comey, on May 9, 2017. Given the frenzy of daily newsbreaks about this president, anyone of which would have long unseated any other incumbent, damning news stories just slide by.
However, this particular one has been so extraordinary that it may yet foreshadow what a likely report by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining the very aspects of Trump and/or his campaign’s alleged dalliances with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, could eventually reveal.
Think of it as India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) opening an investigation into whether the country’s Prime Minister is working on behalf of Pakistan.
A lot of people may not even be able to process the devastating import of a US President suspected of being a Russian agent but that is precisely what the FBI wanted to find out. Counterintelligence officials within the FBI are particularly serious-minded and they embark on any investigation with great deliberation. To think that they would be so alarmed as to suspect no less a person than the incumbent US President is unprecedented.
Within the investigation was the apprehension that Trump is a possible threat to national security. Trump himself has described the Times report as the “most insulting” thing anyone has said about him but has not explicitly denied it. Any denial, of course, would be superfluous in the sense that even if he were “wittingly, unwittingly or half-wittingly”, as the famous journalist Carl Bernstein described it, acting as Russia’s “pawn” he was unlikely to admit to it.
The point here though is much larger. The very initiation of such an investigation underscores the depths to which America’s national concerns have fallen since the emergence of Trump on the political stage. It is conceivable that some of Trump supporterg of Puerto Rico, 6-4, 6-3, earlier on Monday.