Mueller’s Bombshells Are About Putin, Not Trump


Vladimir Putin has become the shadowy supervillain of U.S. politics: a seemingly omnipotent, five-dimensional-chess-playing mastermind subverting American society, sowing “chaos” across Europe, and subverting the entire world democratic order. Ever since Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton famously sniped about who was really Putin’s “puppet,” Putin himself has been conspicuously absent from discussions of potential collusion. Like Keyser Soze or Thanos, Putin is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.



Since the 2016 election, investigative journalists have played the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, except linking Trump to Putin, with varying degrees of futility. Trump-Michael Flynn-Sergey Kislyak-Putin? Trump-George Papadopoulos-Joseph Mifsud-Putin? Trump-Paul Manafort-Oleg Deripaska-Sergei Prikhodko-Putin? For those with an interest in the workings of Kremlin politics, one benefit of the Mueller investigation—and all of the intelligence tools at their disposal—is that it examines not only efforts emanating from the Trump side but those from the Russian side as well. In many cases—as the Mueller report suggests—those efforts did not always link up with one another, though perhaps it was not for a lack of effort.


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