WASHINGTON – Valerie Mayberry is a counterintelligence expert on domestic terrorism working for the FBI. Brett Garrett is an ex-Navy SEAL who was dishonorably discharged, and is fighting a secret opioid addiction. He is not one to play by the rules, and works as a security contractor in Eastern Europe.
When a high-ranking Kremlin official, aware of a secret plan to attack the US, must escape Russia, Mayberry and Garret are assigned the task of getting him out.
This is the story behind Collusion, a new book by Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House. But unlike the current accusations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and Russia – the focus of Robert Mueller’s investigation – Gingrich’s Collusion is a novel.
“We wanted to remind people that collusion with Russians is real,” Gingrich told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview this week. “However, it’s different than the news media version. We created an alliance between Russia and Antifa to try to poison the US Senate. And we made it very modern by having our key figure the Navy SEAL who was badly injured in a helicopter crash during an operation in Nigeria. And in treating his pain, he ended up with [an] opioid addiction. He’s trying to deal with getting out of the addiction while still serving this country.
“In the process, he’s also got to stop the Russians from poisoning the US Senate. So, we think it makes it an exciting book and one which has some elements of reality,” he continued. “We opened with a quote from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that the Cold War never ended, and we close with a seven-page list, single-space list, of the people that we know Putin has killed. And it’s striking.”
When asked about possible similarities between the book and what’s happening now in Washington, Gingrich says that there’s not much in common.
“I think there are similarities between my book and Robert Hanssen, who was an FBI agent and spied for 25 years, or Aldrich Ames, who was a CIA spy, or Alger Hiss, who was the third-ranking member of the Treasury in World War II and got a civilian medal from Stalin. We’ve had that kind of things in the past. What they were trying to do, what Mueller was looking for, was a campaign violation which did not occur. And they were very clear about that, that there was, in fact, no collusion between Trump and the Russians. But that doesn’t mean the Russians aren’t dangerous, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t make other efforts to collude with people.”
Gingrich said that the inspiration for the book came from a couple of places. “First, Pete Earley, my coauthor, had written, with the top KGB agent ever to defect, a book about the KGB. And he had written two books about American spies who had spied for Russia. He’s also an expert on mental illness and opioid addiction. We felt we knew a lot, and we could do something interesting.
“We were intrigued by the degree to which the Russians like to use poison. They’re fascinated with poison, and they normally like to use it so that you’ll know they did it, so they use poisons that can be directly traced back to the Russians. It’s a fascinating story. We put those together and tried to weave them into the kinds of stories that will keep you awake at night to seeing what happens next.”
Gingrich started to write his book a year and a half ago when the Mueller investigation was already under way. He said that the events in Washington did not affect the writing process.
“People should believe it because everything we describe is behaviors we’ve seen. I always believed Trump was innocent, and I always believed that what we were faced with was a potential coup d’état by senior FBI [members] and the Justice Department and the Obama administration. So, in that sense, nothing in the Mueller report was particularly surprising to me.”
While Trump has been criticized for avoiding to call out Russia and specifically Putin, Gingrich says that people should look at his administration’s actions towards Russia, rather than how Trump chooses his words.
“We’ve put more sanctions on Russia than Obama ever dreamed of. We provided weapons to the Ukrainians. We’ve indicated strong support for Ukraine against Russia. We’ve tried to convince the Western Europeans to cut off the purchase of natural gas from Russia, because it gets too much leverage, and we put American troops in the Balkan states, and we put the antiballistic missile systems,” he said.
Gingrich’s book is coming out when, on the Hill, Democrats are debating whether to start an impeachment process against the president. As a former speaker of the House, Gingrich says that trying to impeach the president will result in an easy victory for Trump in 2020.
“They just had a two-year investigation by somebody that they praised, who came back and said there’s nothing there. It’s hard to turn around and say, ‘Well, we didn’t like that answer, so let’s try it again.’ They can do that. From my standpoint, I’m hoping they do it, because it’ll make them look stupid and make it easier to beat them next year.”
But Democrats are saying that Mueller did not conclude there was no collusion, but stated it is not in his mandate, and therefore, it is their job to get to the bottom of this.
“How long did it take to keep digging in a dry well to figure out there’s no water? The bigger and more dangerous thing they’re doing is they cost normal everyday Americans thousands and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees to deal with all this. And I think that’s unfair to the innocent Americans who are being caught up. But I think the Democrats are so frantic and so anti-Trump that they feel like they’ve got to do something.”
Your book is warning about the danger of getting closer to Russia. What do you think about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to try to get closer to Russia, especially regarding coordination in Syria?
“From the standpoint of [the] Israeli prime minister, if you can have good relations with Russia, that’s an advantage, and it increases your leverage over Iran and your leverage over Syria, so I don’t blame him for doing that. He’s in a different position from Trump. Trump doesn’t need anything from Putin.”
There’s going to be an economic workshop in Bahrain next month. What do you think about the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace?
“How do you make peace with Hamas, when its leadership says not a single Jew will remain? How do you make peace with Hezbollah, when their position is to eliminate Israel? I have never thought the peace process would work, as long as the fanatics on the Palestinian side prefer death [over peace].”
Do you think that there is any point to present a peace plan in this atmosphere?
“I think it’s psychological. I think it probably makes the Saudis and the Egyptians feel better. So it’s better for us to look like we’re trying to help. But I will be very surprised if anything comes of it. If you were moderate in Hamas or Hezbollah and you came out and said ‘Why don’t we have peace with Israel?’ – you’d be killed. It’s not complicated. You’d be killed.”
Do you think President Trump should recognize Israeli annexation of Area C in the West Bank?
“He’s already recognized the Golan, and that’s a unique case. I would not encourage him to get involved in the West Bank or the settlements. I think that’s way too complicated for the US to be in the middle of.
“He’s the most pro-Israel president in history. I think he believes it. I think it’s in his heart. I think that Jared [Kushner] has had an impact on him, and having his daughter [Ivanka] become Jewish had a certain impact on him.
“He’s also become more pro-Israel in response to the kind of vicious antisemitism which is emerging in the US and Europe. I think he understands that the evil involved in antisemitism is so great that it brought him towards a closer relationship to Israel.”