Recently I had the extreme honor of interviewing American writer Greg Olear about his recent book, Dirty Rubles,” that ties all the moving parts of Trump’s Russia connections together in one cohesive narrative. As a huge fan of Olear, I’m already familiar with his wit and insights via Twitter. “Dirty Rubles” is an unblinking look at Trump’s dealing with Russia, and gives readers a concise, factual narrative of Trump and his Kremlin cronies.
You state that your book is an “…attempt to see through the fog…” of a noxious cloud from the multiple smoking guns of Trump’s Russia crimes. Is the fog clearing at all? Are we seeing his crimes more clearly now?
The fog is lifting for sure. Eight counts each on Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his personal attorney/Russian mob liaison Michael Cohen, combined with his complete capitulation to Putin in Helsinki…anyone defending Trump now is either a fool, a traitor, or both. Before it took ignorance; now it takes willful ignorance.
All the denials you quote that Trump has made about not being involved with Russia are so obviously false. Why do you think Trump has no problem lying about his Russian connections? Does he believe most people are stupid and will believe him? Or does he think a lie repeated over and over becomes truth?
Trump has no problem lying about anything, even things that are demonstrably false. The crowd size at his inaugural, his net worth, his “finger” size: he lies about everything all the time. It’s how he’s wired. The difference is that no one bothered to correct him before, because nothing was at stake. Now, when there is pushback, he attacks and doubles down on the lies. That worked on his idiot TV show. Doesn’t work as POTUS.
You’ve meticulously detailed almost all of the interactions with Trump, his team, Republicans, Fox News and Russia. What’s your personal opinion of why Trump thought he could get away with all this?
He’s 70 years old and has been an active liar and grifter for, what, 60 of those years…with zero consequences. Six bankruptcies? Or was it seven? I lose track. All those failed businesses like Trump Steak and Trump U. He blames someone else and walks away from the wreckage. Why should this Putin business be any different? He’s finding out the hard way that it is.
You examine people on both sides of this situation, on the Trump/Republican side and Obama/Democrat side. Who’s the one person who could have changed their actions to give us a different outcome from what we face today?
Many, many people fucked up to get us where we are now, but here are three: I love Obama, but as I write in the book, he should have forced the Senate to confirm Merrick Garland, and he should have gone public with the Russia threat when he wanted to, in July. In hindsight, Comey should have announced that the FBI was investigating both campaigns; that would have been the truth, and not have moved the needle at all. Oh, and the editor of the New York Times should NEVER have allowed that abomination of an article to appear on Halloween, 2016, concerning how the FBI saw no link between Trump and Russia. That was a dereliction of duty, and unforgivable.
In your book you say, “Once a democracy fails, once a dictator is installed, the damage is irreversible.” If Trump has done irreversible damage to our democracy, do you think our democracy is at least somewhat fixable, and how?
Historically, dictatorships are hard to remove. Democracies are fleeting. We have the advantage here of a century and a half of a well-functioning democracy, and we never had a King of America to fondly recall. I don’t think anyone wants a monarchy, aside from the kook right. The next president, whoever he or she may be, of whichever party, has to govern from the center, and pass common sense reforms most Americans want: voter protections, gun safety laws, healthcare improvements, immigration overhaul, and of course, laws about how presidents are not above the law, must release their taxes, can’t profit from the office, and so on.
With very recent developments, (the guilty pleas of Trump associates, Trump’s continued unraveling and the anonymous op ed in the NY Times) what do you think the next “shoe to drop” might be?
In my book, I talk about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” (shout-out to Donald Rumsfeld). We know Junior and Kushner are getting indicted; we just don’t know when, or on what specific charges. But we had no idea that Stormy Daniels, of all people, would emerge to put pressure on Cohen. I think Roger Stone, and also Julian Assange, will be indicted next. That will certainly happen. But there will also certainly be some unforeseeable development that will blow our minds. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a meltdown. Maybe Trump strokes out. Maybe Putin releases the kompromat (which involves violence and underage partners and not golden showers, if the rumors are to be believed). Who knows?
You write that the Flynn guilty plea was probably the moment the Trump presidency was doomed and that you believe Trump will resign before subjecting himself to impeachment proceedings. Do you still believe he will resign if threatened by impeachment?
Yes. Trump is above all else a coward. At the first whiff of trouble, he’s gone. He will never allow himself to be humiliated by a Senate hearing. He knows that will destroy him. If he resigns, he can control the narrative: blame HRC, Obama, the Deep State, the press, whatever, and then try to salvage his failing brand. “You don’t deserve me; enjoy the market crash,” he will say, and then leave.
What do you think will happen to Ivanka and Jared? Will they emerge unscathed from all this?
They will both be indicted. In a perfect world, they turn on each other. By the way, word on the street is that Jared has been secretly cooperating with Mueller since Christmas. We’ll see if that RUMINT proves to be accurate. Ivanka is just as guilty as the rest of them; she gets a pass because she’s a pretty young blonde and pathetic pundits like Chris Cillizza can’t imagine that someone in their masturbatory fantasies is also a feckless grifter.
Rather than put all hopes on Robert Mueller and his team, should Americans trust in the rule of law to hold Trump and allies accountable?
Trump is being attacked from all kinds of angles. Mueller, but also the New York AG, and now the Manafort case in DC. There’s the Stormy Daniels civil case, at which he can be deposed. The Epstein case, ditto. Kavanaugh may be confirmed or he may not, but I believe that confirmation will be a trigger for some Congressional GOP to jump ship. Fox News will also repudiate Trump, if it wants to survive as a business after he’s removed. Murdoch is smart. He knows how this all works. And if the Democrats win the House, Trump will be impeached in January. He won’t last to the Super Bowl.
How does American as a country rebound from this?
The day Trump is ousted will begin a period of jubilation. There will be much drinking and dancing and orgiastic revelry. Nine months later, many babies will be born. And the country will, as I said, pass common sense reforms that most Americans want, but the GOP has refused to pursue. I don’t mean to make light of this. Look, people have suffered because of Trump. I have covered the story very carefully for two years, and I’m sure my health has suffered, but other people have really suffered. My kids are down the hall on their devices, not in a cage halfway across the country. This will not make that suffering go away. We will all have scars. But the country may, I hope, be better in the long run because of this nightmare.
Greg Olear links: