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Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win Paperback – November 16, 2017
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“This fast-paced nail-biter goes in unpredictable directions. . . . It also raises thoughtful questions about individual agency and marital commitment. With strong writing, intriguing characters, and a compelling conceit, this psychological thriller seems destined for the top of summer reading lists. Recommended as a fresh voice for readers of Gillian Flynn or Ruth Ware.”—Library Journal (starred review) “Creepy and engrossing . . . [The Marriage Pact takes] readers deep into the heart of a marriage and exposes some of the darker drives, such as possession and control, that can lurk within even the most harmonious of unions.”—Booklist “A fun, can’t-stop-eating-the-potato-chips kind of premise.”—The New York Times “A smart, searing and frightening look at modern love.”—Today.com “A high-concept, fast-moving thriller . . . a gripping and intriguing read.”—The Sunday Mirror “Riveting psychological suspense! This book will keep you up all night, while making you second-guess everything you know and everyone you’ve ever loved.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You “A truly chilling thriller . . . It ranks with The Stepford Wives and Gone Girl as a terrifying look at what it really means to say ‘I do.’”—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Guilty Minds “The Marriage Pact is a tense, twisting, quirky novel of growing dread—and a love story with a richly imagined relationship between a wife and husband. Michelle Richmond looks with a gimlet eye at our therapy-obsessed culture and wonders if the experts who claim to have all the cures might themselves need therapy. Gripping, thought-provoking, and irresistible.”—Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Corner “Michelle Richmond is, simply put, a great storyteller. And The Marriage Pact, without gimmicks or tricks, is a twisting, suspenseful, keep-you-up-all-night thriller. But it’s more than that, too. It’s a deep, insightful, nearly voyeuristic view into modern marriage—what brings us together, what keeps us together, what tears us apart. A smart, engrossing, scary read!”—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of The Red Hunter “With a brilliant premise for a novel of psychological suspense, taut plotting, and deft writing, The Marriage Pact shows in gripping detail just what could go wrong when we try too hard to protect the love we cherish most.”—J. P. Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before “Clever and original—as smart as it is scary.”—Gin Phillips, author of Fierce Kingdom “This sometimes disturbing, always thought-provoking stunner of a novel will keep you reading far too late into the night.”—Karen Dionne, author of The Marsh King’s Daughter
About the Author
Luke Harding is a journalist, writer, and award-winning foreign correspondent for the Guardian. Between 2007 and 2011, he was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief. The Kremlin expelled him from the country in the first case of its kind since the Cold War. He is the author of five previous nonfiction books: A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin’s War with the West, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, and The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken (the last two co-written by David Leigh.) Two have been made into Hollywood movies. His books have been translated into 30 languages. Harding lives near London with his wife, the freelance journalist Phoebe Taplin, and their two children.
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This is the book you wish, for the sake of humanity, would be a work of fiction written by Le Carre, rather than a work of epic reporting that so disturbingly illustrates the principle that truth is stranger than fiction. Indeed, had Le Carre published this a couple of years ago, critics would have thought the old master had lost his way, for the story, while utterly gripping,even terrifying, is too farfetched.
Yet, here it all is masterfully reported by one of the great journalists of our time: the shocking, endless ties between Trump, and so many of Trump’s associates and political appointees who are now running our country, and Russia. Here are the secret meetings; the malodorous, international financial transactions; the hackings; strange doings of the candidate and eventual president; the endless, lurid, amoral, corrupt characters that connect Trump and Putin.
Of particular interest in this volume, something I haven’t seen anywhere else, are the detailed biographies of the Russians in this strange saga. In the daily media coverage, the backgrounds of the numerous Russian characters are rarely explored in any depth--yet they are crucial to understanding what is happening. Harding, onetime Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, brings all of these characters to life, with their charmed business biographies, and their nearly universal ties to both Putin and Russian intelligence. Particularly harrowing, a nightmarish excursion with a knife edge, is the exploration of the possible fates of Russians who may have been sources for Christopher Steele’s now famous Trump Dossier.
In the daily, often simplistic media grind, the background question seems to be: Is their an impeachable offense, a smoking gun? This book, in the depth and scope of its meticulousness reporting, raises a much different and, perhaps, more important question: With or without a provable crime at the hand of the president, is any of this even remotely acceptable? Is it tenable to have a President of the United States with so many corrupt associations? With mysterious, gravity-defying business transactions? With hidden tax returns? With his obsequiousness to a corrupt, brutal foreign leader? With such obvious doubts regarding his fundamental loyalty to the United States of America?
This book isn’t about connecting a few dots, this is about our president’s seemingly endless connections to dark forces that fear truth, loathe democracy, worship power and money, and are utterly ruthless in their remarkably successful tactics at home, and around the world. It’s all here in sobering, shocking detail. Read it, then hug your loved ones, and pray for the world.
Since his Casinos all went belly-up, this incompetent egomaniacal racist “moron,” (to use his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s characterization of him ), has become such a credit risk that no respectable banks anywhere in the world would lend to him. He thus was forced to finance his shaky debit-ridden real estate empire with a web of hidden loans.
And doing so, DJT revealed himself to be the most vulnerable man alive: Colossally stupid and ill-informed, lacking in morals and impulse control, deeply in debt, with a knee-jerk tendency to lie, Trump also possesses an ego the size of Texas in constant need of stroking, making him an easy mark for a whole new class of international predators: any criminals and intelligence agencies willing to lend large amounts of unwashed cash to a floundering businessman.
The Russians apparently saw this “mark” coming as early as 1987, when they assessed the potential for exploiting these glaring vulnerabilities and then began a typical KGB recruitment process. They stroked Trump’s fragile ego, leading him on with “fake offers” and promises, staking his Miss Universe Pageant, and then they began lending him large sums of unwashed cash.
Their 1987 bet has finally paid off “biggly,” as the US presidency is now under new management: Vladimir Putin now has controlling ownership of it.
Grabbing Trump by the tail, with both “honey” and “money” traps, Putin began parading a phalanx of “dirt bags” up and down the elevators at Trump Tower. And now like a puppet on a string, at will, he drags Trump trailing behind him bowing and genuflecting across the globe. Meanwhile, the Mueller investigation is vectored like a laser beam towards uncovering just what is at the bottom of this sordid embarrassing global procession in which our 45th President obsequiously and incessantly bows and genuflects before the Russian dictator.
It does not take Rocket Science to see that as Mueller’s investigation marches on to its inevitable conclusion, there is better than an even chance that “Team Trump” will be found guilty of an assortment of high crimes and misdemeanors, from running a criminal enterprise, to laundering large amounts of illicit cash, failing to file reports for foreign bank accounts, failing to register as a foreign agent, to repeatedly lying to law enforcement and Congressional authorities. Also, surely to be included in this list will be multiple counts of income tax evasion, collusion in cyber crimes that helped get him elected, multiple counts of obstruction of justice, and high treason.
Even Houdini could not survive a mess as big as the one Trump has created for his family and himself. Thus, all the trees in the Trump Tower forest must inevitably fall.
But here is the rub of this book: Long before the election, the intelligence agencies of most of our Western allies knew Trump was being “played” and setup for Russian “kompromate.” Why then did we also not know?
They tried vainly to warn us, but up until Senator John McCain plopped Christopher Steele’s dossier on Obama’s desk, Obama, the press, and the FBI, just plugged their ears and watched Trump get elected, American democracy be-damned!
Seeing this, Buzzfeed felt it had no choice but to publish Steele’s dossier so that “we the people” could see what was going on behind the proverbial National Security screen. And although questions still remain about its provenance, all one really needs to know about the authenticity of Steele’s dossier, is that once it was leaked, the Russian spies associated with it, began dropping like flies. Steele, an ex-British spy himself, ran for cover too. Now ask yourself this: Could “fake news” really cause this kind of reaction?
Once the cat was out of the bag about Trump’s extreme vulnerabilities, and likely KGB recruitment, the Russians put their foot on the accelerator and pressed their attack forward. Leading with honey and money traps, political corruption, illicit loans and adding cyber weapons of mass disruption, with Wikileaks out front, Putin refined and “weaponized” every tool in his arsenal. In the run up to the election, the Russian attack on our democratic process went full-throttle and viral.
Using Trump, his family, and his close cronies as point men, cutouts, spotters and paid collaborators carefully placed within the enemy camp, Putin just continued picking off the low hanging fruit of our deeply divided political system, one piece at a time. Every platform known to the post-modern world was used by Vladimir Putin to rattle our alliances and undermine our already shaky political and electoral process. And who could blame him?
Wittingly or not, Trump had become the singular most potent Russian “asset” ever recruited by Russian intelligence to break up the Western Alliance and irreparably damage our democratic institutions. For Putin, Trump’s election to the US presidency was “mission accomplished:” For it was both a tactical and a strategic success. QED.
But what should worry US citizens most is that these same tactics and strategies had been used against our allies, where they proved utterly unsuccessful. Only when targeted against us, were they crowned with success. Why?
Here is a big hint: instead of watching our own back door, we were engaged in fierce and vicious internecine warfare against each other. For instance, to save themselves from the ongoing Trump embarrassment, the Republicans, especially from the die-heart racist Bannon wing of the party, simply switched sides and began rooting for Vladimir Putin, calling the Trump Russia scandal a “witch hunt” and “fake news.” At the same time, while the Republicans were busy doing this, the Democrats all went mute; and like a pack of chicken-hearted rats, pretended nothing was going on. They just slid back into the woodworks never to be heard from again?
In short, even as the nation’s alliances and its fundamental institutions were under life-threatening attack, US politics remained the same old vicious cut-throat zero-sum game? Both sides watched this vulgar spectacle from the sidelines with mouths gaping but did nothing, as Trump and Putin continued to wreak havoc on, and ravaged our Western Alliances and our nation’s democratic processes? Five stars!