Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump is either a “Russian asset” or a “useful idiot” for Vladimir Putin, according to a story in Business Insider based solely on comments in claims came from officials in the U.S. intelligence community.

“’It’s hard to see the bar anymore since it’s been pushed so far down the last few years, but President Trump’s behavior over the weekend was a new low.’

“That was the assessment an FBI agent who works in counterintelligence gave Insider of President Donald Trump’s performance at this year’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France,” wrote Sonam Sheth in “US spies say Trump’s G7 performance suggests he’s either a ‘Russian asset’ or a ‘useful idiot’ for Putin.”

“The agent requested anonymity because they feared that speaking publicly on the matter would jeopardize their job,” Sheth wrote.

In its “analysis” section, where Business Insider attempts to summarize the content of a story, it wrote four bullet points, one of which was the quote about the bar being pushed down.

The others read:

  • “Current and former spies are floored by President Donald Trump’s fervent defense of Russia at this year’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France.”
  • “At the summit, Trump aggressively lobbied for Russia to be readmitted into the G7, refused to hold it accountable for violating international law, blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia’s investigation of Crime, and expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
  • “One former senior Justice Department official, who worked closely with the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he was the FBI director, told Insider Trump’s behavior was ‘directly out of the Putin playbook. We have a Russian asset sitting the Oval Office.”
  • “Meanwhile, a recently retired FBI special agent told Insider that Trump’s freewheeling and often unfounded statements make it more likely that he’s a ‘useful idiot’ for the Russians. But ‘it would not surprise me in the lest if the Russians had at least one asset in Trump’s inner circle.’”

The story went on to note that “Trump’s attendance at the G7 summit was peppered with controversy, but none was more notable than his fervent defense of Russia’s military and cyber aggression around the world, and its violation of international law in Ukraine.”

In fact, if Trump is working for Russia, he has an odd way of showing it. Yes, he supported Russia’s return to the G7 because “a lot of things we have to talk about have to do with Russia.” But after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the government there begged Obama for anti-tank missiles to fend off the Russian T-72 tanks. He refused, but Trump changed course soon after taking office.

During his term, thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed to Poland, the Baltics and Norway to curb Russian aggression. Trump bombed a barracks in Syria where Russians were helping Islamic State forces. He has dramatically increased defense spending and unleashed US energy production to drive down prices for fuel – a staple of the Russian economy.

And perhaps most importantly, the official report on the two-year $40 million Mueller investigation “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”

The Business Insider piece says the Russians attacked our 2016 election and are building up to do it again. It also says the Russians are attacking our power grid. In fact, we are attacking theirs, according to a story in June in the New York Times.

Finally, it quotes the anonymous FBI agent again saying “What in God’s name made Trump think it would be a good idea to ask to bring Russia back to the table? How does this serve US national security interests?”

On the week a story about Russians co-signing the president’s loans was exposed as a hoax, it then offered this response: “Trump’s advocacy for Russia is renewing concerns among intelligence veterans that Trump may be a Russian ‘asset’ who can be manipulated or influenced to serve Russian interests, although some also speculate that Trump could just be currying favor for future business deals.”

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