The very idea that our president has acted out in sexually controversial (and perhaps illegal) ways—and that somebody has filmed it—is taken very seriously by intelligence experts, Schindler wrote for Observer.

However, many of the “Trump tapes” floating around in spy circles worldwide cannot be verified, while some of them are obvious fakes, says the author, who says he has studied the issue for the past couple of years.

As many as a dozen intelligence services worldwide, on four continents, are in possession of some sort of “Trump tape” featuring sexual escapades of a controversial nature; in some cases, the women involved appear to be underage. Some of these tapes have been shared with the Mueller investigation.

Read alsoNikki Haley calls Russian cyber interference into U.S. elections "warfare"One Western intelligence agency with a solid professional reputation is in possession of an unpleasant Trump tape that they assess “with high confidence” is bona fide, i.e. exactly what it appears to be. They obtained the tape from a trusted source who plausibly had access to it. Over the decades, Trump has traveled widely—including to Russia more than once—and thereby exposed himself to surreptitious filming in numerous countries.

It’s obvious to savvy Western counterspies that someone is spreading fake Trump tapes—not all of them high quality—to muddy the waters. The obvious suspect, of course, is the Kremlin.

Since the Russians know all about President Trump’s decades of personal antics, including what kompromat exists on him, they appear to be pushing dubious and unverifiable tapes, some of them obviously fake, to create chaos and confusion.

Read alsoRussia trolls deflected Trump bad news during campaignIt’s working, and in the current climate, it seems doubtful that any Trump tape can be verified sufficiently to have a mainstream journalistic outfit report its details. After all, with multiple fakes out there, any bona fide tape would require not just rock-solid technical authentication, but also firming up the exact place and date of the incident, plus confirmation from the girl(s) caught on camera too. That seems like an insurmountably high bar to clear at present.

This, then, is yet another successful Kremlin spy operation, one more grand provocation to mess with the Western minds. Although Vladimir Putin is deeply disappointed with President Trump, keeping an increasingly damaged and ineffectual president in the White House, suits Moscow’s foreign policy needs just fine, Schindler believes.