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a hunch

John le Carré thinks Russia has dirt on Trump

John le Carré, the British author of espionage novels and a former spy, suspects Russia has something on President Trump. In an interview published Friday with The New York Times alongside Ben Macintyre, a writer of nonfiction espionage works, le Carré laid out his theory:

The mentality that is operating in Russia now is absolutely, as far as Putin is concerned, no different to the mentality that drove the most exotic conspiracies during the Cold War. It worked then, it works now. As far as Trump, I would suspect they have it, because they've denied it. If they have it and they've set Trump up, they'd say, "Oh no, we haven't got anything." But to Trump they're saying, "Aren't we being kind to you?" [John le Carré, via The New York Times]

Still, le Carré wasn't certain whether the "smoking gun" would be the "documents exchanged about Trump Tower in Moscow" or the "really seedy stuff in the Caucasus." "There are bits of scandal which, if added up, might suggest he went to Russia for money," le Carré said.

Macintyre said that veterans of the British Secret Service seem to agree that Russia did "kompromat" on Trump. "So they end up, the theory goes, with this compromising bit of material and then they begin to release parts of it. They set up an ex-MI6 guy, Chris Steele, who is a patsy, effectively, and they feed him some stuff that's true, and some stuff that isn't true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong," said Macintyre, referring to the former British intelligence officer who authored a bombastic dossier on Trump that suggested he had engaged in compromising behavior.

Read the interview in full at The New York Times.