Mueller, Trump and Putin

Rob Stein and Gideon Stein

September 10, 2018

The legal entanglements of President Trump’s hapless, growing coterie of guilty business and campaign associates are dominating the news these days. And increasingly, the President, himself, appears vulnerable to a staggering array of business, personal and political improprieties that pose serious legal jeopardy for him.

But the Robert Mueller investigation, other on-going inquiries in the US and Europe, years of informed reporting, and Jack Bryan’s new documentary, “Active Measures” released last month, collectively suggest that Donald Trump’s sleazy life of sex, lies and videotapes may not be the core focus of the numerous probes into money laundering, cyber crime and election tampering that are being conducted throughout the world. The ultimate targets of the active global investigations might well be the inextricably interconnected Russian intelligence agencies, the Russian Mafia and the network of corrupt Russian Oligarchs — all of which are controlled and directed by Vladimir Putin.

While the seemingly endless dots of criminality and anti-democratic skullduggery have not yet been conclusively connected publicly, the growing list of U.S. indictments, governmental reports in Europe and credible investigative journalism over the past few years — about the Russian Mafia, its connections to the Russian oligarchs and Vladimir Putin, the levels of infiltration by the FBI and Interpol into Russia’s worldwide criminality, Russia’s continuing intrusion into European and American elections, the Trump ties to organized crime, his real estate empire’s reliance on laundered Russian money, the hacking, the political meddling, Russia’s relationship to both the NRA and America’s religious right — all appear to be integrated components of a global criminal network intent on undermining the pillars of democratic institutions and of democracy, itself.

We know for certain that Mueller is cooperating with the US Attorneys in the Southern District of New York, Northern Virginia and other U.S. jurisdictions. But, there also is reporting that his investigation is collaborating with international prosecutorial agencies, including Interpol and its closely affiliated national criminal justice bureaus in the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere.

Thus, it no longer is implausible to conjecture that many of these investigations could lead to criminal charges and indictments of Russia’s most prominent business and political leadership. Putin’s nearly two decades of global criminal activity ultimately may be undone by his overreach into the most recent U.S. Presidential Election.

There is no way, at this juncture, to verify the accuracy of the mountain of reported allegations over the past ten years against Russia’s complex international web of criminality. However, credible stories have been methodically reported and meticulously sourced, painting a picture that is as well informed as it is breathtaking.

The Global Political Implications

The explicit and implicit implications of these reports and allegations suggest criminality on a global scale that is perhaps without precedent in world history. If even partially true, Putin and his criminal enterprise have used Russia’s extensive natural resource wealth over the past 20 years to build and support a vast and frighteningly powerful criminal network capable of laundering its money in any country to finance criminal activity against individuals, companies and nation-states including spying, hacking, stealing trade secrets, masterminding dangerous drug, prostitution and other illicit cartels, human trafficking, attempted murder, assassinations of enemies, military aggression against neighbors, election meddling in Brexit, the Catalonian separatist vote and of course, the 2016 US Presidential race.

Alarmingly, the global reach of Russia’s criminal network remains active and its strategies for 2018, and beyond, are proceeding unabated. The pursuit of wealth and political influence by such a massive criminal enterprise is dangerous enough. But, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the gravest threats are to freedom and democracy, themselves. Viewed as a fully integrated strategy to sow public discontent and political division throughout Europe and North America, the larger purpose of Putin’s nation-state controlled criminal web is sophisticated social media manipulation and targeting to undermine truth and trust, stoke angry populist uprisings, weaken democracies and empower authoritarian strongmen.

There is ample, although not yet fully revealed or litigated, documented evidence that has been mounting for years that Vladimir Putin is both a strong man, tyrant, murderer and rapacious expropriator of his nation’s wealth, and the world’s most dangerous mafia don, overseeing a global network of political and economic crime from his sumptuous palace at Novo-Ogaryovo on the outskirts of Moscow.

Mueller, Trump and Putin

As Americans, we naturally are fixated at the moment on the culpability of Donald Trump and his associates. But, as the fruits of the interconnected international inquiries ripen, we might discover that the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump is the investigative and prosecutorial wedge that exposes, and drives a dagger into the heart of, Putin’s global criminal empire. Signs of this grander purpose to look for in the coming months might include:

· Indictments of more Russian nationals, including Russian oligarchs and mafia bosses;

· Arrests of Russian oligarchs living in Europe, North America and Asia, and the seizing of billions of dollars of Russian assets throughout the world;

· A powerfully well-documented Mueller allegation of a “conspiracy to collaborate” against the Trump campaign, Russian hackers and social media manipulators under orders from Putin;

· A bill of particulars against Trump, his business and political associates and campaign, leading to a recommendation for his impeachment based on a long history of money laundering with the Russians, campaign manipulation in collaboration with the Russian Mafia and Oligarchs with direct ties to Putin, and obstruction of justice charges against Trump, his associates and Party allies; and

· Indictments in America and various European countries of leading Russian mobsters, Oligarchs, and of Putin, himself.

As implausible as these developments may sound, they represent an accurate catalogue of potential consequences of years of American and international investigations culminating with the Mueller probe over the past year.

Months or years from now, when the investigations end and criminal behavior has been proven and punished, we may discover that the “meddling” in the 2016 U.S. 2016 Presidential elections turned out to be the fatal overreach that unraveled Putin’s global criminal conspiracy and ended the economic rape of his own country, his global criminality, his reign of terror at home and abroad, and his mendacity in attempting to sow discontent in western countries with the intent of undermining freedoms and disrupting and weakening democracy.

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Rob Stein is a political strategist and Founder, Democracy Alliance. Gideon Stein is an entrepreneur and education philanthropist.