A Washington Post reporter’s new take on how Trump benefited significantly from Russia

Greg Miller, a veteran national security reporter at the Washington Post and two-time Pulitzer winner (as part of a team on both occasions), is precisely the kind of mainstream journalist who believes in playing stories “down the middle” and avoiding an overtly partisan tone.

On “Salon Talks” this week, he spoke with Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir about what life might be like in an alternate universe where Donald Trump had indeed pivoted to a more mainstream presidential tone, as briefly seemed possible in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election.

That didn’t happen, and to some degree Miller’s painstakingly researched new book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy,” represents an attempt to explain why.

This isn’t the most explosive of the numerous accounts of the 2016 election and Trump’s mysterious connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchy, and Miller stops well short of alleging a large-scale, top-down conspiracy between Russian agents and the Trump campaign.

But he clearly intends “The Apprentice” to be a rigorous and authoritative account of what we know so far about the Trump-Russia relationship and its effect on American politics. As the book’s subtitle suggests, what we know is pretty big.

“My goal here was to write a book that would help people, including people I work with, and including myself in some ways, try to come to terms with and comprehend the magnitude of this moment that we're living through,” Miller told Salon TV.

Miller has covered the American national security establishment for years, and clearly endorses the views of former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: The Russians successfully destabilized our democratic process in 2016, exploiting existing social and political tensions with messaging that reached most voters in a myriad of ways.

If the original Russian goal was merely to sow chaos, the ultimate goal became the election of Donald Trump. Given the flukish nature of that election, it’s ludicrous to claim that Russian intervention was not a decisive factor.

Miller suggests that the “smoking gun” explaining Trump’s apparent subservience to Putin is not a secret at all, but has been visible the whole time. Watch the video above to find out what he means.

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