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12 January 2017

When will we wake up to the scale of the Trump threat?

The worrying signs are multiplying by the day. 

By Stephen Bush

It’s always a sign that terrible things are afoot when the FT’s splash is the same as everyone else’s, and today is no exception: “Trump lashes out at media and spy agencies over Russia dossier” is their headline.

The President-Elect has hit out both at journalists for reporting on the existence of a dossier containing claims that he was compromised by Russian intelligence and later colluded with Moscow to undermine his rival for the presidency, at the American intelligence agencies.  The dossier is not the product of the American intelligence community, but the claims within are now being investigated by intelligence official, while BuzzFeed has printed the dossier in full on their website.

“Trump outrage at ‘dirty dossier” is the i’s splash, “You’re acting like Nazis, Trump tells spy chiefs” is the Times’ take, “Trump Rocked By British Spy” is the Mail’s, while the Mirror goes for “Trump Dirty Dossier Brit Named” after the retired spy who wrote the dossier was outed as ex-MI6 official Christopher Steele.

In a bid to heal the rift between the President-Elect and the American security services, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has issued a statement describing his “profound dismay” at the leaks and saying that he does not believe they came from the intelligence community.  (But read it carefully, and you’ll see that what he also does is confirm CNN’s original reporting.)

What really matters, and is being obscured by the row over whether or not BuzzFeed was right to publish the dossier in full – but if you read one piece on that, make it my colleague Anoosh’s – is this: regardless of whether Trump’s closeness to Russia was the result of cultivation and even blackmail by Russian intelligence or is simply the result of the passion that nativists throughout the West have for Vladimir Putin, who they regard as the guarantor of their movement, the incoming President of the United States will be an ally, rather than a brake on, the activities of Russia, both in Syria and most likely in eastern Europe as well.

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All of which suggests that those people holding up Jeremy Corbyn as the biggest threat to the security of the Western alliance, or those hoping that the Trump era will herald a renaissance for the so-called “special relationship” are in for a sharp shock.