Why Has Putin Changed His Mind about Whether Russians Who Hacked the US Are Patriots Or Others?

Now, with even more performed disdain! As you’ve no doubt heard, Megyn Kelly came out from wherever NBC has been hiding her to do another interview with Vladimir Putin. Over and over, Putin effectively said he doesn’t give a fuck if some Russians interfered in the US election, but that this was not a state effort.

His most noted denial suggested that even if Russians did tamper in the US election, the might not be real Russians: they might be Ukrainians, Tatars, or Jews.

“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin said of the people named in last month’s indictment. “There are 146 million Russians. So what? … I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. … They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

Putin even suggested that Jews or other ethnic groups had been involved in the meddling.

“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

Most of the coverage of this exchange is shocked that Putin made such an anti-semitic (and otherwise bigoted) comment.

But I’m more interested why he did so.

When I last commented on what I saw as a shift from outright denial to admission that Russian hackers might have been involved, Putin was describing the offending Russians as patriots.

Putin raised the possibility of attacks on foreign votes by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots. Hackers, he said, “are like artists” who choose their targets depending how they feel “when they wake up in the morning.” Any such attacks, he added, could not alter the result of elections in Europe, America or elsewhere.

Artists, he said, paint if they wake up feeling in good spirits while hackers respond if “they wake up and read that something is going on in interstate relations” that prompts them to take action. “If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia,” Mr. Putin added, apparently referring to Hillary Clinton.

Here, he’s suggesting any freelancing Russian offenders are the opposite, the kind of internal others that Putin has increasingly demonized as part of his formula to stay in power (curiously, however, he didn’t suggest they might be gay). He’s responding to the first accusations of Russian tampering, the Internet Research Agency indictment, by suggesting that any Russian that took part must be other than Russian. He does this even while he mocks the possibility Russia might extradite any of the accused, based on Russia’s standard refusal to extradite “Russians.”

So any Russians accused of tampering in the US election are labeled, post hoc and preemptively (assuming Robert Mueller is on his way to indicting Russians for the hack, as well), Russians for legal purposes, but not-Russian for cultural ones, for the political expediency of having natural scapegoats.

Why is he doing this, and who is his audience?

That he suspects he will need to scapegoat any Russian accused in the operation suggests something about it will be unpleasant, will need deniability in a way it might not have last June.

But is he playing to American prejudices in blaming Jews (and Ukrainians and Tatars, which wouldn’t trigger even the most bigoted Americans)? That might make sense given that this (unlike the June comments, which were for St. Petersburg journalists.

Or is he playing to Russian prejudices (which makes more sense, given the targets)? It would mean Putin’s open disdain for Kelly is a performance for his domestic audience, as well.

Most interestingly, if he is prepping scapegoats for his domestic audience, does he think Russian response to any upcoming exposure at the hands of Mueller will be negative in a way he once believed it’d be positive? That would surprise me … but it is the most logical explanation given how he is pre-emptively demonizing what he once claimed would be patriotic.

55 replies
  1. Trip says:

    My opinion only, but it destroys Putin’s narrative that the west (US) is trying to isolate Russia (and her people), versus containing the Kremlin and mob. The closer this fuckery gets to Putin, in combination with the oligarchic corruption and theft of the people exposed by people like Navalny, the more it might enrage some of the Russian people, who have viewed Russia (not the Kremlin and associated oligarchs) as victims of the US.

    Now, he insists on rogue actors, or Israeli/Russian dual citizenry as the actors. Bibi’s stance and escalation on Iran with notes on Syria, at AIPAC, might have caused a falling out on that new bromance as well. Best to point fingers outward. For all we know, Netanyahu and Putin were in cahoots in the effort. Neither wanted Clinton/Obama policies. It’s clear that the hard right Israeli government is getting all of its wishes come true under the Trump/Kushner policy. But Putin doesn’t abide with Netanyahu’s plan in the middle east. He wants to maintain his geopolitical standing in re Syria and Iran. The Russian people have soured on their military presence in Syria. The fact that the Kremlin hid mercenary forces from them there was another blow. Putin is trying to look pristine and innocent going into the election. Another outsider against Russian interests might rally support again toward these efforts.

    The Ukrainian actors comment strikes me as obvious, as does the American-paid actors, because it promotes the ever present propaganda of US deep state as the only nefarious operators in the world. Plus Putin is nothing if not a goddam troll.

    • Phil Perspective says:

      The closer this fuckery gets to Putin, in combination with the oligarchic corruption and theft of the people exposed by people like Navalny, the more it might enrage some of the Russian people, …


      Don’t get too excited.  This would be like Frum or Bret Stephens exposing Trump.


      For all we know, Netanyahu and Putin were in cahoots in the effort. Neither wanted Clinton/Obama policies.


      Which is funny because Obama gave Netanyahu everything he wanted and didn’t take any punitive action against him whatsoever.  Clinton would have been even more benevolent towards Netanyahu, if such a thing were possible.

    • DMM says:

      Interesting notion about Israeli involvement, but I’m not convinced about Israeli antipathy toward Clinton at all. She’s much more hawkish and interventionist than Obama, and during the campaign strongly indicated the characteristic DC hawk fealty to Israel. Trump on the other hand was more vague, leaving the question open to “deals” to be made between Israel and Palestine (though of course many expected his rank hypocrisy on that as much as everything else).

  2. Desider says:

    Except Russians love it when he plays with us, and now he’s simply protecting any true Russian actors, blaming it on the riff-raff if we really care to check (snigger snigger). Just a pose in case someone’s serious about more sanctions. I keep waiting for “little green men” to pop in the story – he’s such a card – saying that maybe Skripal & daughter committed suicide badly – a crowbar up his ass would be a righteously justified response, but that’s not going to happen… More worrisome that *nothing* will happen.

  3. Kokuanani says:

    OT, but if you want to see a portrait of Putin at his spooky best, check out “Icarus,” which just won the Oscar for best documentary.  [It’s on Netflix.]  Starts out with the story of a guy who bikes for recreation and decides to prove that the screening system for drugs is so weak that even HE, an amateur,  could get through it.  About half way through he realizes that the guy he’s Skyping with in Russia is the head of their doping + evade-the-testing system.

    The whistle-blower’s fear as he attempts to get out of Russia, plus watching Putin’s cold, bold-faced lying will resurrect any Cold War fears you may have slumbering inside.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Well, good and true Harvardians helped the oligarchs steal and enrich themselves, following the Neoliberals’ Bible, whose prime directive is that privatization of government resources is always and everywhere a heavenly godsend, Amen.  (At least for those who do the taking, provided a later govt doesn’t become heretical and take things back.)  Putin seems to be a devout member of that church.  Scratch an oligarch and you’ll find a tattoo of Vlad.

    I agree with the idea that Putin needs a few scapegoats.  Never wanting to let a good ethnic slur go to waste, he nominates the usual suspects: Jews, Ukrainians and Tatars – of Turkic origin, they intermingle nicely with the Mongol hordes.   He left out the Poles.

    I also agree that Mr. Putin is priming the pump.  These are so generic, they could be used for a host of reasons.  Do Tatars have access to modern nerve agents and the odd bank of computers and hackers, or are they reliant on more tried and true technology, such as the stirrup, a pony, and a sharp blade?

  5. TheraP says:

    I’m wondering if he’s anticipating a British finding that the recent poisonings trace back to Russia.

    So a preemptive strike?  Applicable to almost anything?

  6. DAVID LITTMAN says:

    This is, in my opinion, the beginning of Putin distancing himself from Trump – who has already given Putin more than he ever hoped for in damaging the US internally and with its allies.

    Putin assumes – almost certainly correctly – that Mueller has pretty much everything Putin has and so – Putin has concluded – Trump has very limited upside value to him now and, if things go south for Trump, he will go lockstep south with him.

    Putin is at risk unless he can – perhaps primarily for internal consumption – set up one or more generally unliked groups to be fall guys, probably along with some oligarchs and Jewish Mafiosos he’d like to get rid of so they don’t kill him and/or so he can steal their money.

    The guy is presiding over an economic disaster with a GDP of around 50% of California’s GDP and he knows that if Trump gets immobilized and Congress forces implementation of the sanctions he is done for.

    Hence he needs plausible deniability – or at least a not-laugh-out-loud story. The “Other Groups” provide that story as well as a chance to steal more money.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Until Trump leaves office, he remains useful to Trump, not just for specifics he can do or the policies he can prevent – today’s GOP is Trump’s GOP, they won’t refuse him anything.  Trump is useful to generate chaos and confusion in general, always a good thing to instill in one’s enemy and the leader of alliances Putin finds objectionable.  The tires are worn on the Trump’s 1980 Cadillac, but they have a lot of miles left on them.

      Just imagine the chaos Trump can generate if he actually runs again. He is running again, like Shrub, it’s all he’s good at, but if it gets close to 2020, it will really blow up.

      • david_l says:

        I generally agree with your assessment.

        (I assume you meant “useful to Putin”.)

        My point is that this is a good risk mitigation strategy for Putin that pretty much covers both bases:

        1. Trump stays in office and continues to wreak havoc and, perhaps though it’s not a necessity for Putin, to be afraid of him, or

        2. Trump gets deep-sixed by Mueller or a blue Congress or enough of his Congressional support gets scared off and just holds his hat while he wreaks havoc or “retires”, the latter of which they are doing at 3-to-1 over Democrats.

        On them being scared off, Charles Koch just wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post railing against the tariffs. Who knows whether it was on the up and up but it could well have been, possibly as a signal to Republican supporters of Trump – and Trump himself. (Note we are seeing quite a bit of walk back since the Op-Ed – Canada, Mexico, Australia,…)

        The Republicans in Congress are way more afraid of losing the support of the Koch Brothers and their ilk than of anything Trump or his base could do to them.

        A couple of Koch “campaign investments” could send any Republican Senator or Representative permanently back home where they’d have to get a real job.

  7. Mark says:

    The man is so full of SH!T his eyes are turning brown. We know that much of the interference in our election originated from military and government organizations within russia. We know that Putin personally met with Trumpski and several other US politicians like Jill Stein, and with Michael Flynn. We have photos of them dining at the same table. I find it personally insulting that the man commits acts of war against the USA and then stands there denying them, is he too much of a coward to admit his crimes against you and I?

    Even if it were mere lawless persons he detests and is now singling out for pogroms and scapegoating, always the mark of a fascist, he better F’ing care what goes on inside his borders because these are acts of war and will at the very least mean a new cold war. At this point it is very hard to tell which is the biggest liar, Trumpski or Tsar Vladimir. But since the first clearly works for the second I suppose it just does not matter. What does matter is there are 30-35 million Americans that are OKAY with this vassal state arrangement in which the USA is now controlled by a hostile power.

    You cannot try that many people for treason, but we can get their ringleader and put the rest on notice that their citizenship is in jeopardy if they attempt to stop it.

    • matt says:

      because these are acts of war and will at the very least mean a new cold war

      The new cold war has been going on for a decade, and we’re loosing.  I’ll point out that all our hope for justice is resting on Mueller- and in the past government inquiries/investigations of executive branch conspiracies have generally been disappointing.


      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        “I’ll point out that all our hope for justice is resting on Mueller- and in the past government inquiries/investigations of executive branch conspiracies have generally been disappointing.”

        I would not assume that it all rests on Mueller. There are other players involved, they just will not appear for years.

        I strongly recommend that one not conclude that the investigations are strictly focused on Executive Branch.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It is one of the things that puzzles me the most about Flynn, because most of his early career was spent in the NATO vs Warsaw Pact days when the Soviet Union was the clear adversary.  However, as was said about Benedict Arnold:

      “Money is this man’s God, and to get enough of it he will betray his country”.

  8. cfost says:

    “Why is he doing this, and who is his audience?” Well, maybe there was an unexpected consequence. The use of casual, unofficial, private, or unaffiliated agents has served Putin’s (and Trump’s) strategy well. But what if Putin knows or strongly suspects that Mueller not only has a line of proof that leads from the hack to Putin, but also that the line of proof contains embarrassing facts. Russian sentiment will probably support Putin regardless of actual facts showing his involvement, but embarrassing facts would be another matter.
    If he needs deniability or distance from the embarrassment, invoking Tatars would do the trick for the domestic audience. Invoking Jews or Ukrainians would help make his intentions less obvious.

  9. cfost says:

    Was it significant that Ms Kelly was the one who interviewed Putin? Possibly. Depends on who recommended her to Putin. She was not a random pick. Which brings me to my point: given the interconnection between today’s global power players, it would not surprise me if Putin were in a pinch where he needed a PR blitz to protect someone other than himself or Russia. There are some people who do not want their names associated with the Russian Affair, even though they are into it up to their eyeballs.

    Many people in addition to the oligarchs are counting on a status quo in which dark corners remain dark. Russians aren’t the only ones paying obscene amounts for real estate and yachts, for example. It’s ok for it to be on YouTube, I guess, as long as no one is viewing. But what about all the little details leaking out about who hangs out with whom, whose families are intermarried, or who owns the apartment adjoining Assange’s bedroom wall in the Embassy? This could get out of hand quickly!

    OT: I listened to Marcy’s recent radio interview. I agree that the Mueller investigation is distracting us from some very important issues. But let’s not call interest in the Mueller investigation an addiction. I view the Mueller investigation as the most important political issue of my life. Akin to the Sack of Rome, to the Romans.

    • david_l says:

      I agree. I followed the entire Nixon Watergate saga start to finish while in College and Grad School.

      Watergate was just about one small-minded guy attacking the little pieces of  the necessities of the foundations of democracy he need to attack to survive.

      Trump is following the playbook of modern autocratic takeovers, which requires destabilizing and discrediting, then disempowering any element of governance that might stand in his way.

      Mueller knows this and preventing Trump from succeeding is the deep result he and we hope the “Mueller Investigation” will achieve underneath the surface result of draining the swamp Trump brought to DC.

      The Mueller Investigation is quite possibly the most important crossroad in American history. It will go down in the history books as pivotal whether it succeeds and prevents an autocratic America or fails and ushers one in.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bob Mueller’s team is among the few remaining opportunities to hold the executive – and parts of Congress – accountable during this presidency.  As Mr. Obama showed us, presidents are loathe to give up power, no matter the reason for having acquired it.  I imagine Mr. Mueller understands this well.

    • matt says:

      I view the Mueller investigation as the most important political issue of my life

      I’m assuming you were born after November 22, 1963…

  10. Bob Conyers says:

    I don’t know if this is significant or not, but the Trump camp for a long time has tried to use the dodge that he never colluded with Russia, skirting the question of his connections to intermediaries to Russia, Russian-Americans, Israelis wih Russian backgrounds and connections, Ukranians, Azerbaijanis, and so on.

    This may even go so far as being a negotiated line of defense emerging between Trump and Putin, or more likely it may just be a recognition by Putin that the GOP defenders of Russia and Trump need a consistent story in the face of growing pressure. I’ll also see the possibility suggested by other posters that Putin is just recognizing the risks of getting too cheeky with the Mueller investigation where it is now, and is only thinking of himself.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Re Trump, Flood and Haberman:

    Maggie Haberman seems to have found the least probable reason Donald Trump is not telling all or any of his attorneys that he is talking to the famously competent Emmet Flood about joining his legal team: so as not “to inflame people who know a lot about his case”.  Emmet Flood, you might have read, represented Bill Clinton through his impeachment troubles.

    Haberman’s rationale – that Trump cared more about his lawyers’ egos than his own – is why some observers do not find her reporting credible.

    All of Donald’s attorneys are subject to client confidentiality rules, even in the absence of the NDAs that accompany Trump like rain in the Amazon.  They are unlikely to reveal what Trump says, unless it is as part of an agreed strategy.  If they’re working for Donald, they have their egos in check (around Donald) and insist that their retainers are big and paid in advance.

    Among the more likely reasons Trump would not tell one of his attorneys about talking to another is because he is stupid and arrogant.  Stove piping information given to different attorneys is the fastest way to veer off the road of any legal strategy.

    Among the more likely reasons for Trump’s stove piping is that he’s afraid he might be giving his existing lawyers an excuse to bail: “I’ve fully protected my client, I’ve done my part of the work, it’s time to pass the hot potato baton.”  Nobody puts Donald in a corner, or walks away without being told to go.

    The most likely reason for Donald’s behavior is that he is lying to one or more of his lawyers (and himself) and imagines he’s getting away with it.  Clients for high-powered lawyers try to lie to them all the time – big clients, with big egos and bigger wallets, who have done a lot of things the DoJ might be interested in.

    These lawyers expect that you might be lying to them.  When they hear about this sort of behavior from Donald, they know it.  They know it for the same reason a medical doctor knows that the three most likely things her client will lie to them about are how much he eats, how much he drinks, and how often he has sex.  It is the client rationalizing away their mortality and their vulnerability.

    Trump must hope that he can keep any one of his lawyers from knowing all his secrets.  The less you know, the less leverage you have, the less you can tell.  That might work for a mob boss.  It might work in the surreal world of billion dollar family real estate companies where only family know where all the bodies are buried.

    As president – with Bob Mueller probably looking at every Trump secret on and off the books, with the FBI and other resources at his disposal – it might not work so well.  In fact, it is hard to imagine a better way to perform the kind of impossibly acrobatic sex act that Dick Cheney was renowned for telling his congressional opponents to go do.

  12. orionATL says:

    there are two facts relevant to putin’s change of mind:

    –  he appears to be distancing the russian government,  and himself as its head,  from efforts to influence the 2016 american national election.

    – putin is running for office, for re-election, as commenter lefty reminded us recently.

    beyond these two facts, what his precise political thought process was in distancing himself from the russian intervention is anybody’s guess – could have been just some 400 pound american working on the internet from his bed.

  13. Charles says:

    I would suggest that Putin’s motive, like that of Trump, is to distract.

    These guys seem to me to be playing for time. As Trump gets more and more control over the national security apparatus, and that apparatus becomes empowered, it becomes more difficult to retaliate against Russia. This is true, even if Trump resigns, is impeached, or dies. Also, our strongest defense against foreign meddling–democracy–becomes increasingly damaged, with more ideologues inserted into the judiciary, more loopy laws, and crippling deficits. And this is true throughout the West.

    Russia and China enter the power vacuum created by a flailing, failing United States. They have their own development bank. China is aggressively colonizing the South China Sea. Democracy is failing in a number of US dependencies, such as the Philippines and Thailand. And Europe is splintering, with the south in economic decline and Britain exiting.

    Trump and Putin imagine that if they can only weaken the US enough, an authoritarian structure can take hold. The problem is that the authoritarians of today are grossly incompetent and will be totally unable to deal with problems that require cooperation, like global warming, infectious diseases, and foodstuff production. The chances of nuclear war have not been higher since the early 1960s.

    If Putin and Trump win, everyone loses. Somehow, they–and Xi-jinping need to be pried from power and real democracy allowed to function if we are to save this world.

    • matt says:

      Yes, I would say that they are not even “conspiring” to ruin the world- its just a bi-product of their blinding egoism and greed.  As others have said regarding “distraction” This soap opera is keeping our attention away from the deep, systemic erosion of the democratic process in America.

      For a time, we held up that process as the ideal for the world, but if it crumbles here… Plutocratic/Autocratic/Capitalism maybe the wave of the world’s future.

  14. david_l says:

    re: Re Trump, Flood and Haberman:

    Trump must lie to his attorneys because if they learn he is committing – not did commit – a crime e.g., is engaged in ongoing money laundering, the attorneys are required by law to report it to the authorities.

    If they don’t they risk being prosecuted for felony obstruction of justice which, if working for Trump re: Mueller or on impeachment defense strategy, would be a 10 year federal offense and disbarment.

    Furthermore, as Trump’s attorneys are surely aware, based on the Crime-Fraud exception to confidentiality, Mueller has already gotten a judgment that required one of Manafort’s former attorneys to be deposed on what Manafort asserted were confidential communications.

    I’m sure Mueller already has a plan to “interview” all of Trump’s attorneys, they know it, and they’re being extremely circumspect regarding what they want to talk to Trump about.

    With no-censor motormouth Trump, however, it is probably impossible to avoid learning of ongoing Trump crimes or to be drawn into a conspiracy to obstruct justice as Don McGahn’s experience suggests.

    It would be ironic indeed if Trump hires Flood and Flood learns his monthly bills are being paid with funds pilfered from the RNC, funds that were raised by, for example, Elliott Broidy, Deputy Finance Chair of RNC – i.e., a big fund raiser – a gentleman with a, shall we say, checkered financial past e.g., he avoided jail time by ratting in the New York State Pension Fund bribery case and he may be involved in the Kushner-Qatar no-pay-no-play situation.



    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The rules aren’t that clear or consistent, especially where the crime does not involve a client’s present intent to commit a crime that could cause death or serious bodily injury, or obstruction.  Knowledge of other crimes is also not treated in the same way as a client using the lawyer’s services to help commit a crime.  The latter is right out. 

      Flood would likely have few worries.  Cohen, not so much.  He’s probably in deep shit. But losing client confidentiality – or being so brazen that one’s lawyer had a duty to disclose – would be one more reason for Trump to tell his lawyers as little as possible. Not telling everyone working on different aspects of the conduct that Mueller is investigating, however, is a recipe for disaster.

  15. DMM says:

    Regarding Mueller producing indictments for the DNC or Podesta hacking: How would he need to assess the actual evidence the intelligence agencies have? Would he need a reasonable (colloquially or legally speaking) belief it was good enough to try at criminal standard? Obviously he would need much more than the Crowdstrike conclusions or that of the unclassified intel findings, both of which are garbage in terms of evidence for attribution, but I’m wondering if he would independently assess the IC’s assessments in a more legalistic light.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “Regarding Mueller producing indictments for the DNC or Podesta hacking”

      I would not assume that will be happening in next few years.

      Not important enough at this time.

      It’s small stuff in the big picture.

      Mueller does not have time to waste spending time on potentially false attribution.

      Better to spend time on solid evidence like Money. See Laundering.

  16. x174 says:


    kudos for the good catch on putin’s reversal.

    it looks like putin is seeing both the advantage of playing by trump’s rules (denigrate everyone clumsily and oafishly and muddy the waters by pointing fingers wildly about) and the snare that he finds himself in (assuming he works with/on the dumpsters).

    other than following trump’s playbook (sow discord and confusion and project narcissistic needs onto the cosmos), i think both trump and putin are finally beginning to realize the true fallout that awaits them b/c of their combined intent to defraud the US government: for trump the hellacious fall of a traitor (and jail time for his relatives and what-nots), and for putin the wrath of economic war and reigniting of a new cold war. the trail of dead bodies (and add comatose Sergei Skripal and his daughter to the list) strongly suggests that putin is making the classic mistake: in attempting to cover his tracks, he only lays down even more.

    putin is showing signs that he needs to change his geo-political calculus because his is seeing the writing on the wall; he is “woke.”

    • matt says:

      Putin and Trump are like heads on the Hydra.  Cut them off, and another of their ilk will grow back.

  17. GKJames says:

    Maybe it’s disinformation for its own sake. Putin’s aware that US media (“useful idiots” comes to mind) hang on his every word. True to who and what he is, keeping the world off-balance is, to him, like breathing. Or, for all we know, he and Sechin are communicating to other oligarchs that their positions remain subject to Kremlin whims, as in, stay on-side or your chances of coming off the SDN list are zero … or we might even extradite you. As for the prejudices, they remain fertile ground for audiences everywhere. They, too, come naturally to Putin and many of his fellow Russians. It’s doubtful that a lot of prep-work went into his interview with Kelly, as that would signal a respect that he simply doesn’t have.

  18. Willis Warren says:

    During the election, the troll factories put out this “Putin gets rid of the Rothschilds banks” news that was everywhere on facebook,


    I thought then, and think now, that’s it’s part of his anti-Jewish/bankers rhetoric so that when the west finally decides to move on his stolen money, he’ll have a propaganda infrastructure to fight back.  Of course, moving on his money was part of Hillary’s plan, which I’m sure is part of the “lost emails” or whatever…  the ones we’ll never see because they’re about him.


    • orionATL says:

      willis warren writes:

      “…Of course, moving on his money was part of Hillary’s plan, which I’m sure is part of the “lost emails” or whatever…  the ones we’ll never see because they’re about him…”

      now this is very interesting. i have never before seen a connection made between h. clinton and putin’s money, only one made with regard to clinton’s interferance in russian affairs.

      putin moving to protect his (and relatives and friends) money from u. s. interferance if clinton were prez does make intuitive sense.

      have you got any more info to share on this, willis?

      • matt says:

        maybe more moves like the
        Magnitsky Act…?, though one can hardly say that was “all Hillary.”

    • matt says:

      Fascinating article.  No wonder Mueller’s team has amassed 1.4 million pages of documentation in the investigation.

  19. Les says:

    All of the groups he accused stood to have an interest in Ukraine, Crimea, or Syria where Russia is engaged in conflict against the interests of their home state.  As I recall, there were reports in the mainstream media of Ukrainian interests backing the Clinton bid against Trump.   There were also claims that the hackers were from St. Petersburg because they all worked the normal business hours for that city.   No one bothered to check that Kiev is directly south of St. Pete.

  20. matt says:

    It is interesting that NYT and Jerusalem Post (as expected) are assuming the Putin comment is just an anti-Semitic jab.  It might be a veiled threat to Israel, pointing the finger in their direction, as in “we’re in this together… so do something.”  Russia and Israel have been forced (by Russia’s lead in Syria) to coordinate policy/military actions in past years… and, as the December 17 Intercept and Chicago Tribune articles (along with Netanyahu’s 5 visits with Trump) indicate the Trump team has been mighty nice to Israel since assuming the presidency.  It is possible that certain Israeli interests aligned with Russian interests when meddling in the election.

  21. david_l says:


    Generally what you note about the crime-fraud exception is true but Mueller is following the playbook of Big Organized Crime Prosecutions and going full MAGA on Trump – as he will on his attorneys given the opportunity (see linked article).

    I think that if Mueller discovered one of Trump’s attorneys knew about ongoing Trump money laundering and did not immediately report it, the attorney would join Michael Cohen on the prison transport bus to occupy Scooter Libby’s old cell or make a deal – and still be disbarred.

    On the other hand the kinds of attorneys Trump has now – beside Fixit man Cohen – and is looking at would run, not walk, if they sniffed something even mildly funny.

    They are fully aware of what has happened, and is likely to happen, to Skadden Arps and know that the guy who destroyed Arthur Andersen over Enron is Mueller’s #1 guy.


  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s hard to credit the Bloomberg report that Bob Mueller will “go slow” on “obstruction” charges against Trump because it might end his investigation.

    It seems unlikely that obstruction of justice is the only or most important charge Bob Mueller would be investigating against Trump.  Financial fraud, tax avoidance and money laundering are likely candidates for his team’s attention.  Those are complex, document and data driven charges that require careful construction and presentation.  That takes a lot of time and resources.  Then there’s the even more obvious conspiracy to defraud the US, charges Mueller’s team has already brought.  And then there’s obstruction, possibly the most obvious and easiest to document.

    More importantly, Donald Trump is only one of many probable targets of Mueller’s investigation.  As with mob prosecutions, prosecutors seek to indict, prosecute and convict lower level stooges, bag men and hit men, then lieutenants and direct reports.  Only then do they reach for the capo di tutti capi.

    Such a complex and explosive set of investigations and prosecutions would need to be carefully rolled out and sequenced.  Players, evidence, cooperating witnesses, the identity and range of charges.  What’s at stake is the presidency, the GOP (now that it’s all in behind Donald), election integrity and the Constitution.  Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

    Mueller most likely has more than enough work to fully occupy his team for months.  It is Trump and the Republicans who maintain the drumbeat that, “This will all be over soon, chief.”

    A change of control in the House or Senate would affect Mueller’s strategy.  Among his objectives would be to see that credible or overwhelming evidence for charges has a chance to be heard and decided in open court, not smothered in a political wet blanket of protectionism by GOP courtiers intent on protecting their once and future king.  Changes and consistencies in the political landscape are legitimate concerns for someone investigating such high-profile people and charges.  Like the EU in Brexit negotiations, time seems to be on Robert Mueller’s side, not Britain’s or Donald Trump’s.

    Bloomberg’s article does not fit those concerns.  It has the air of access journalism, sourced by people inside the White House or their increasingly concerned legal teams.

    • matt says:

      Mueller’s sitting on a powder keg.  I’d imagine there’s enough criminality to keep his team busy for years… the question is valid… what will see the light of day, and when?

  23. Evangelista says:


    Leaving aside the empty question of if Putin’s expanding of the list of persons who might possibly hack, or have hacked, or want to hack, any public figures in the U.S. constitutes change of his mind about “Russians who hacked the US…” (if any actually did where when and how you and all the others currently running without proofs, or proofing, believe and are insisting all should with you believe, which no one has yet actually established), how about the question Putin asked?

    An answer for it?

    He framed his question with a current American Gospel Conviction contradicting speculation: ““Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work.””

    And he asked, “” How do you know? “”

    What we need all the way around, on all sides addressing, is a whole lot less guppy-on-a-hook camp-meeting credulity and at least a little bit of real rational, reasonable, logical and documented proofs, proofings and facts. Just bandying again, over and over again, with differing frames of credulity and passion, the same old back-fence gossip allegations does nothing but keep the gossip circulating, and drive more and more of the intellectually discriminating toward skepticism.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      The problem is that most of any ‘proof’ (evidence), is controlled by IC. And potentionally solid IC evidence can be buried by crap classification, and more to the point, can be really hidden via TS/SCI markings.

      So many programs (haystacks), that even if one knows what they are looking for, they can spend years looking into the wrong haystacks.

      Nope, no neddle there!
      Geeze, this haystack looked great, but no needle there either.
      Oh, this haystack looks great, the program name even relates!
      WTF, that prgram name was so misleading. Nothing.
      Etc, Etc, Etc.

  24. matt says:

    (reply in comment not working)

    Evangelista, I guess the world is waiting for Mueller, he’s got all the cards… as Ruger9 just asked… what will force his hand? I’d guess he’d be extremely cautious, especially in light of the fact that any bombshells are likely to cause a severe reckoning in America.

    Curious, are you of the Robert Parry or Peter Schweizer school of thought when it comes to collusion. And, if no collusion with the Trump campaign… do you believe that Putin directly, or via sponsored actors interfered in the 2016 election?

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