Malcolm Nance Interview: "Trump Is Reading Literally Fake News and Acting on It as President of the United States"
Image attributed to Michael Bryant
Malcolm Nance was a career counterterrorism and intelligence officer for the US government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, and has over 33 years of experience in combatting radial extremism. He’s a retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology and was involved in numerous counterterrorism, intelligence and combat operations.
On the morning of 9/11, driving to Arlington, Nance witnessed the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon and acted as first responder at the helipad crash site. He has authored several books including The Terrorist Recognition Handbook, Defeating ISIS and The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election. Nance has appeared as a guest policy analyst on CNN, ABC News, Fox News, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, the BBC’s Hardtalk, Australian Broadcasting’s Dateline and other political talk shows.
“This is not something we can allow to stand. This isn’t politics at all. This is dangerous.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Malcolm, let’s get right to recent news. In a series of tweets, Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower before the election. Since he offered no proof to back up his claim, some say he was perhaps creating distractions or that the accusations were meant to deflect from the Russia probe. What do you think?
Malcolm Nance: I really don’t think he’s creating distractions. Based on what people were saying, the Washington Post wrote about Trump being in a complete and total panic about AG Sessions recusing himself and then being completely angry that whole weekend. It turns out, according to certain reports, that Steve Bannon handed him a copy of this Breitbart article claiming Obama had wiretapped him, then he got furious and went on his 3:00 AM tweetstorm.
That’s not creating distractions. That’s really sort of a psychopathy there. That’s destabilizing behavior from someone who’s supposed to be an adult, and it’s dangerous because he controls 4,000 atomic weapons. All the warnings that people were saying about him being unfit to be president, being quick to temper … this is absolutely ridiculous. It’s absolutely dangerous. I’m actually very worried about it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Can a president just unilaterally order the wiretapping of a United States citizen, and if not, what’s the process?
Malcolm Nance: No. A president can’t do that. They stopped this back in the 1970s because of Nixon and Watergate. The president has nothing to do with collections. All of this falls under a bill called Omnibus Crime & Security, also known as the Wiretap Act of 1968. The Justice Department is ultimately responsible for any collection like that.
The President can’t ask for it. The president can’t order it. The Attorney General can order it if it falls under certain crimes like the Racketeer Influences and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), financial crimes, things that there’s an actual case on. They just can’t do it for fun.
If there’s a crime, like you’ve got a guy plotting with the KGB, the FSB (Russian intelligence), and US intelligence has accidentally stumbled across the information, then they would go back to the Justice Department. An attorney at one of the agencies would freeze that information. Nobody would keep it. Nobody would transcribe it. They would just block off where it is, and they would go to the Justice Department. They would bring it up as evidence.
That information would go to a place called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The FISC, once they look at that evidence to allow them to proceed to turn it over to the Justice Department, would issue a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant. That is a secret court order that allows them to proceed with collecting this information on the basis whether there’s been a crime committed. That’s the only circumstances this would happen.
Trump is reading literally fake news. Trump is reading literally fake news and acting on it as president of the United States. He’s accusing a president of illegally wiretapping. That’s not him just thinking things up. That’s destabilizing. That’s mental incapacity going on right there, and he’s going to suffer for it. This is not something we can allow to stand. This isn’t politics at all. This is dangerous.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): If an investigation is opened at the request of the White House, and Trump’s accusations of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower before the election prove to be baseless, what kind of damage will have been done to the presidency?
Malcolm Nance: The damage has already been done to the presidency. We have a White House that the first lady won’t live in. We have a president of the United States who won’t use secure communications, who just thinks off the top of his head. He has insulted every one of our allies, but embraces the dictatorial leader of a totalitarian state. It’s just utterly amazing. It’s just absolutely ridiculous.
He has damaged the presidency. In fact, hopefully, if Congress is ever restored back to normal, we can enact new laws so that the president has to undergo a psychological evaluation or do other things that aren’t in place right now that we need to re-establish the norm. Right now, Trump is doing things that are clearly financial crimes. He doubled the buy-in value of getting a membership at Mar-a-Lago, which almost guarantees you to meet him, his friends and other people in the administration.
His spending on security is off the charts! He has spent in one month more on security at Mar-a-Lago and New York than Obama did in an entire year. But, now, suddenly, all of this is acceptable. These are norms that every president has tried not to abuse with their position. The funny thing is these people have double standards. It’s okay for him. It’s not okay for anybody else, especially for the Democrats. But, it’s not okay at all.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your book, The Plot to Hack America, tells the story of how Vladimir Putin personally orchestrated the election hacking and that it was done specifically to elect Donald Trump president. Last year, 17 intelligence agencies were confident that these espionage attacks came from the highest levels of the Kremlin. In a nutshell, how did Russian spies steal the 2016 presidential election, and was Donald Trump an unwitting pawn?
Malcolm Nance: First off, you have to understand that Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, was a spy. He was a career intelligence officer when the Soviet Union fell. He used to run spies from West Germany into East Germany and steal computer technology. So, when the Soviet Union fell, Putin went on to become an enforcer in St. Petersburg and helped liquidate hundreds of billions of dollars of Soviet assets. Much of that was put into the New York real estate market.
He then became the director of what was the KGB at that time, now called the FSB, but it’s the same organization. Nothing has changed between the two agencies. So, as the spymaster-in-chief of Russia, Putin knew how to manipulate people. He was trained and had spent over a decade manipulating people to steal things from the West, to steal technology. So, with that, he became the president of Russia, and Russia became a sort of mafia state with an atomic bomb.
Then, Putin and his allies, in 2005-2006, started moving Russia back toward an authoritarian nation, essentially a dictatorship of the uber-rich, the oligarchs, Putin being at the top of them. But, Putin was no fool. He had always harbored this resentment against the West for the Soviet era and the post-Soviet era. He was an enemy of Hillary Clinton. He didn’t like Barack Obama. He felt that he was at the rise of sort of a new Russian empire, and he started making allies in the American conservative movement, including making contact with Donald Trump during the Miss Universe pageant.
Trump was desperate to become friends with Putin because of free money. He wanted access to all of the money from all those Russian oligarchs, but in Russia, most of the money is held in the hands of 15% of the people. Most of that nation is very poor. Putin must have seen Trump as a very colorful character who he could use as an ally in the future. I don’t think he saw him as a person running for president at that time. But, when he ran for president, Donald Trump espoused the Russian party line about foreign policy and everything else. It’s utterly amazing. It was like hearing a Kremlin press release.
So, it appears that Vladimir Putin put in this operation, almost ten months long, to hack the DNC (Democratic National Committee), gained every bit of information about the Democratic Party, and then released it via WikiLeaks, their Laundromat, in time to damage the Democratic Party. The first part was to split the Bernie Sanders voters away from the Hillary Clinton voters, and that actually was very successful. Then, they wanted to just keep the word “email” in the minds of the American public.
All of this was done to ensure that Donald Trump would be elected president. The DNC wasn’t hacked so much as the mindset of the American public was hacked. Putin technically hacked the way the media covered Donald Trump. He understood that the media would do anything to get a better story and he stole the information. It was literally Watergate 2.0 because, unlike the first Watergate where they broke into the DNC, this guy actually stole everything, used it and destroyed a presidential candidacy and voted in the man that he wanted.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What did/does Vladimir Putin want Donald Trump to do for him?
Malcolm Nance: Well, obviously, he wants to improve relations. I think Trump is just an idiot (laughs). I don’t think he’s the sharpest tool in the shed. Really. I think the man does not have the intelligence or the capacity to fairly run the United States, and he’s proving it every day. We’re reaching crises that we’ve not seen in our history. It’s just utterly frightening.
But, the purpose of this is to do what it’s doing now, and that is elevating the status of Russia. China and Russia are now eating our lunch economically, China especially. Trump pulling out of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) was just utterly amazing. It just gave China the lead on all trade out of Asia. Now, China is going to be the dominant trading partner in that, not the United States. The United States won’t be selling its corn. The United States won’t be selling oil, coal or anything. He’s doing unilateral trade deals, which are never going to be as good as a market deal. So, that helps China.
But, you have to remember, Russia is also part of the Pacific, so it helps Russia. Putin is doing this for his own elevation to bring back the Russian empire as he sees it and of course, his ideology to destroy Western democracy. This man was a communist, and what he’s doing essentially is communism without the commie, right? Putin doesn’t have to share anymore. It’s a form of mafiaism.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Has Kislyak ever been a spy?
Malcolm Nance: Well, he’s a Russian diplomat. Like I said, back in the era of communism, all diplomats have an intelligence collection function. They were all reportable to the FSB. Their jobs were to identify people to Russian intelligence who could possibly be turned or bought as agents. That’s always going to be there. The United States doesn’t do that. They have a very strict line. But, when the Soviet Union ended, that role did not end with Russia when Russia became the Russian Federation. That role still remains an obligation amongst all Russian diplomats, which is to act as feeders into Russian intelligence.
So, yes and no. He’s still a diplomat and has to do diplomat functions. But, he does have an intelligence function, not just intelligence collection, but intelligence recruitment.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you believe that there was collusion between Sergey Kislyak and other Russians and Trump and/or his campaign staff before the election?
Malcolm Nance: The point is that we don’t have the information. My book outlines what should be there, and everything I wrote in that book is in the CIA report. The CIA uses top secret information. I used open source information. But, we analyze exactly the same, and there must be certain triggers. There must be certain things that are seen.
Roger Stone already confessed that he had contact with WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks was acting as a transmitting body for Russian intelligence. The question is, “Did they have contact?” This needs to be investigated. This is the first time in American history that our electoral process has been deliberately tampered with. No matter how you slice it, they put out all of these emails. They stole emails to influence one side of that election and that person’s side won. That needs to be investigated.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Donald Trump has rolled out another immigration ban. As an al-Qaeda and ISIL expert, do you think that terrorists fear Trump?
Malcolm Nance: Oh, they have no fear of him. They love him. Donald Trump was ISIS’s candidate. They need racism. They need open Islamophobia. They need to know in the Muslim world that the people in the United States are hypocrites and were never going to support them or any of their ideals, and they need to do that so they can recruit off of it.
ISIS might’ve been on its last leg when the election was over and done with. Donald Trump will not destroy ISIS. ISIS was already effectively destroyed by Barack Obama. They only had about 10% left to go. But, it will rise again. Trump will be their salvation as soon as he does something that every Muslim hates like moving the American embassy to Jerusalem declaring the two-state solution in Palestine dead.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In your expert opinion, was Trump’s January 29, 2017, raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a Navy SEAL and many civilians, a success or a failure?
Malcolm Nance: It was a failure. First off, all props go out to the guys of SEAL Team Six. They do a tough job. They’re very good at their job. But, that mission was knocked down by the Obama administration twice. There’s a reason these missions are signed off on by the president of the United States. You don’t use these guys every day. But, as I understand it, they had bad intelligence going in, bad tactics going in and a $75 million helicopter was shot down.
Guys get killed on these missions, so I won’t say that Chief Owens being killed was a failure because it’s hard. But, what they did could’ve been done with a drone. Donald Trump wanted a super hard charging mission right out of the box. He didn’t even go to the Situation Room and watch it. He didn’t even understand the process. He did it over dinner with Jared Kushner, signed off on it and went back to his dinner. He’s a fool. The man should be nowhere near this level of power and this is an example why.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In a recent Washington Post article, Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said that the administration was locked in an unending battle against the media and other globalist forces to “deconstruct” an outdated system of governance and that Trump’s agenda was the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” What does that mean for the American people?
Malcolm Nance: Steve Bannon is an actual threat to the security of the United States. He’s a danger. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. That man believes that the American form of government should not exist. He’s not joking about “deconstructing” government. He’s a wrecking crew. He’s a believer in the sort of neo-Soviet ideology by a Russian philosopher named Alexander Dugin. Dugin that says American liberal democracy must be destroyed.
Steve Bannon believes that American government itself, the same people that send out Social Security checks and stops forest fires, needs to be privatized or destroyed. He is more of a Russian and supporter of Vladimir Putin than he is a patriot of the United States. He is the single greatest threat that we have in that White House. Worse, he’s the leader of the alt-right. He took over Breitbart. The alt-right is a mélange of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In the White House right now, Bannon is the single greatest danger that we have. It was bad enough that we had crazy General Flynn. His craziness was born out with his inability to tell the truth. But, Steve Bannon is crazy like a fox.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve called the Russian interference and possible collusion Watergate 2.0. In the first Watergate, Nixon resigned. What’s your prediction for the future of a Donald Trump presidency if it is proven that he and/or his staff colluded with the Russians before the election?
Malcolm Nance: There was so much arrogance in the Trump administration in the way they viewed the world. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that they thought they could do anything and get away with it. I think there will be links of them colluding with the Russians. And, when you say Russians, you have to make it clear. That’s Russian intelligence, and that could lead to conspiracy charges. Then, you’ll see who holds and who folds. But, I believe there’s going to be evidence that American citizens were involved in that. If they were a part of the Trump campaign or Trump associates or worked to get Trump elected, this is going to be hung around his neck.
Another thing we need to find out is if he owes money to Russia because he acts like a gambling addict who will never say a bad thing about his bookie. It’s bizarre. This might be the greatest scandal in the history of the United States, and it has nothing to do with Barack Obama. It has to do with the fact that these people are just so incredibly arrogant that they don’t care. They didn’t care one way or the other about what happens to this nation. They had a vision in which they would deconstruct it to a white supremacist homeland, and they’re all about it. They’re in the process of doing it, and it has been a nightmare … for anybody that’s got a brain.
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