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Ash writes: "The subtext of the most recent filings by prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York (SDNY) indicates that they strongly suspect collusion between Donald Trump and Russian players acting under the direction of Vladimir Putin, at a bare minimum."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington DC, 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Washington DC, 2017. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)


Espionage Is Not Out of the Question

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

12 December 18

 

he subtext of the most recent filings by prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York (SDNY) indicates that they strongly suspect collusion between Donald Trump and Russian players acting under the direction of Vladimir Putin, at a bare minimum.

Collusion itself is not specifically a crime under federal statutes, but conspiracy can be — and that, from what we are now seeing, may well be where Mueller’s team and SDNY are going. If such cooperation included a willful compromising of U.S. national security in consideration of personal enrichment, say in the form of emoluments, then the station that train ultimately arrives at is Espionage.

To the first issue, enrichment. Let us count the ways. Through the sale of real estate at inflated prices to Russian oligarchs, to investment capital for real estate acquisition, to any income derived from any deal with any Russian national acting with the approval of the government of Vladimir Putin that was not disclosed in Donald Trump’s tax returns, any of that could create a personal enrichment incentive. All of which Mueller and his team are reviewing document-for-document and have been for over a year.

To the second issue, willfully compromising U.S. national security to serve the interests of a hostile foreign power. This is murkier. When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin emerged from behind closed doors in Helsinki earlier this year, the mere appearance of Trump behaving as though he were on Putin’s leash had every publication in the Western world openly talking about treason. Appearances can be deceiving, but they don’t have to be. It’s entirely possible that it was what it appeared to be. Who knows?

Maria Butina might know. She was originally charged with acting as an undeclared agent of the Russian government. But now she’s agreed to act in full cooperation with U.S. federal prosecutors. A prerequisite for such a cooperation deal is having something to offer. It not clear what Maria Butina knows and is willing to provide, but it is clear that federal prosecutors think it’s worth a cooperation deal.

Butina’s Russian handler was Alexander Torshin, a Russian banking oligarch with direct ties to Vladimir Putin. Torshin is suspected of helping to steer funding to the NRA for campaign contributions to conservative politicians in the U.S. Butina was an instrument of a Russian operation, so she might well know a lot.

Michael Cohen might know. Cohen had extensive contact with Russian actors involved in a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and appears to have significant direct contact with Russian actors in 2016 prior to the election and again afterward in a damage control effort. Cohen too has cooperated to some extent, participating in a reported 19 separate interviews with the Mueller team, speaking directly to the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Michael Flynn might know. Flynn had extensive contact with Russian actors, including at the now infamous dinner with Putin and, notably, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Flynn was a close confidant of Trump’s before and after the election. If Trump was giving the Russians undue consideration, Flynn would know. The Mueller team was so pleased with Flynn’s cooperation that they wrote a glowing review for the judge who’s preparing to sentence Flynn, in an effort to gain a lenient sentence.

What did Trump promise the Russians? What did Trump deliver or attempt to deliver to the Russian? Did the Russians enrich Donald Trump? Was there a quid pro quo?

If the answers to those questions are demonstrably yes, and the odds that they are improve by the day, then the train Mueller is conducting may be headed for Espionage Station.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+10 # AZerbst 2018-12-12 11:56
Seriously wonderful article, Mr. Ash. But in your penultimate paragraph you ask "What did Trump promise the Russians?" How in heck can one put any weight on a *promise* by one whose every utterance is, as the polite people say, "transactional" ? I.e. something said just to grease the wheels, with no basis on what we unfortunates call truth.

sigh<
 
 
+11 # Marc Ash 2018-12-12 13:52
Hello AZerbst, A promise speaks to intent. Intent being a key component of a transactional or quid pro quo arrangement. "You will give me ... I will give you."
 
 
+8 # Jayceecool 2018-12-12 13:47
You are preaching to the choir, Mr. Ash. The unfortunate truth is that our government and society are so profoundly corrupt that whether Mueller levels these charges or not will fail to remove Trump and his minions from power...
 
 
-6 # yolo 2018-12-12 14:34
Mr Ash, please provide your readers with the evidence you have which shows Trump colluded with Putin to win the US election. Telling us, Butina, Cohen, Flynn etc, might know something is not evidence. I didn't know Trump selling real estate to Russian oligarchs at inflated prices was a crime? And lastly how did Trump, "willfully compromising U.S. national security to serve the interests of a hostile foreign power" by meeting with Putin? Are our presidents not supposed to meet with other countries leaders? While your readers, including myself may not like Trump, the evidence you have provided is pretty flimsy and I doubt would hold up in a court of law, let alone in the court of public opinion. Mueller, like Trump, has shown he is not truthful. As the director of the FBI he completely failed the investigation into what happened during the anthrax case after 9/11, falsely accusing people who committed no crime. Not to mention the terrible job investigating 9/11.
 
 
+12 # Farafalla 2018-12-12 15:53
Standing in for Raskolnikov today is Yolo, yet another Trumpian troll who graces the threads on RSN. Ash is not addressing a jury, he is not a lawyer. This article does what much responsible journalism does, sort out what we know and point to what might well happen given the facts. The trolls on RSN are doing a classic Russian job, sew distrust and drive wedges amng and between Americans who don’t like Trump, his proto-fascist regime and his know-nothing base.
 
 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-12 19:48
Nice to see my #1 fan chiming in so early in the line up. My hope is that he works real hard and makes it to the first place. He became my fan because I'd mastered the first place.

I just love the way he so perceptively sees how Russians sew distrust. Anyway, back to the needle and thread. Distrust is quite fashionable these days.
 
 
+3 # yolo 2018-12-12 21:51
Farafalla you call me a Trumpian troll and accuse me of doing a classic Russian job because I asked Marc for evidence and not hearsay. Yet I get thumbs down and you get thumbs up for labeling me. What has our country come to? I guess people don't want to learn, only to be told what to think.
 
 
+3 # Benign Observer 2018-12-15 10:17
Yes, to the extent the readership here IS filled with trolls, it's of the pro-establishme nt, David Brock variety.

These people know that Sanders is the most popular politician in America and they know he has a great chance of becoming the Democrats' nominee. We can see the safeguards they are putting in place at the DNC and in the media and elsewhere in efforts to sabotage him at every stage of the 2020 process, including overloading progressive sites with trolls who demoralize and overwhelm true progressives.

They are easy to spot, and Farafalla is one of them. Even when someone like Rodion says something they agree with they find a way to turn it into an attack.

If RSN was serious about trolls, THAT'S who they'd control, so that real progressives might come back to the site.

Two years ago this forum was thriving.
 
 
+5 # chapdrum 2018-12-12 16:12
Does anyone on RSN have specific information on the allegation that Mueller was protecting the Saudis during the 911 Comm. investigation? (I'd have more faith in the outcome of the Rump investigation if it wasn't headed by a staunch, well-connected Republican.)
 
 
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-12 18:38
chap -- I think the person you are looking for is Colleen Rowley. She was an FBI agent who was shut down and forced out be Mueller because she had evidence about the 9-11 hijackers he did not want anyone to know.

Mueller played a very crucial role in suppressing and destroying evidence the FBI had on all the hijackers and the support network of rich Saudis that enabled them to live in the US. The FBI had most of the 19 under survillance and knew a lot about them. Mueller made sure none of that intelligence got into the faked investigations of 9-11.

"9/11 Whistleblower Rowley on Mueller’s History of “Cover-up”"

http://accuracy.org/release/911-whistleblower-rowley-on-muellers-history-of-cover-up/

Rowley has written a lot about Mueller since she left the FBI in 2002. She's especially good on Mueller supervising the round up and illegal detention of 80,000 muslim men right after 9-11. But attorney David Cole has written the best book on that forgotten era.
 
 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-12 19:40
I totally agree with Marc about the direction Muller is following. He is fabricating a grand conspiracy in which Trump, Putin, and Assange (with the help of lots of intermediaries) conspired to rig the 2016 election, deprive Hillary of her natural right, defraud the people of the US, and hand over key policy making to Putin.

Cohen makes the connection between Trump and Russia/Putin. Stone and Corsi make the connection between Trump and Assange. And the indictment of the Russian intelligence agents makes the connection between Russia/Putin and Assange. Mueller is close to finishing his magnum opus. It is not clear if he will submit this to congress for impeachment or wait until Trump leaves office in 2020 and indict him under the espionage act. I lean toward the latter, since Mueller could ask for life in prison or the death penalty.


There is just one question: is the grand conspiracy true? To me, it is totally false. There is ZERO factual support in Mueller's theory. But does that matter? Mueller will produce his narrative, the major media will pick it up and promote it until it becomes the accepted narrative. Mueller was key in the theory that 19 Muslim hijackers took over 4 air planes and blew up the Pentagon, the WTC, and Shanksville, all under the direction of Osama from a cave in Afghanistan. That story was always false, but it did not matter.

Hillary has called Trump/Russia a new 9-11. She will be right when this theory becomes "truth."
 
 
-2 # Porfiry 2018-12-12 20:32
Typical fantasy. As if you KNOW what Mueller is doing.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-13 08:48
Port -- both Marc Ash and I are speculating about the direction Mueller is going. All signs point in that direction. But of course we don't KNOW what he will do. He's a very secretive guy and there is absolutely NO oversight of his operation.


Marc uses the very apt metaphor of a train speeding toward a destination:


" the train Mueller is conducting may be headed for Espionage Station."

But it may be there's a collision up ahead. A new Attorney General will be in office soon and there's a rebellion among his targets.

I speculate that he will not present his report or findings to congress for impeachment. My basis for that is his long record of contempt for congress. He very conspicuously does not like congress and has never given them much information. So I speculate he will by-pass congress and move to indict Trump either before or after Trump leaves office.

If Mueller were running an open and transparent investigation, we probably would not speculate so much.

Speculation is OK. But it should be clear that it is speculation and not fact. I hope I was clear that I was speculating about what Mueller is doing.
 
 
+6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-13 09:11
Porf -- one more point. I do think Mueller's train is heading toward Espionage Station, as Marc says. I did not think that a month or more ago. This is a new development. I'm not sure his train will reach the station, however. That we really can't know right now.

Where do you think Mueller is going with his investigation? Is he just playing with the little fish like Papadopoulos, Flynn, Stone, and so on? I think the little fish days are over. Now he's Ahab hooked on to some whales -- white ones, for sure.
 
 
+4 # HDSMTS 2018-12-13 05:38
"Maria Butina might know. She was originally charged with acting as an undeclared agent of the Russian government. But now she’s agreed to act in full cooperation with U.S. federal prosecutors."

Keeping in mind that federal prosecutors now fall under the control of Matthew Whittaker, I'm not staking too much on what she's being required to tell nor am I staking much on her lifespan once she's out of prison.
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-13 13:05
HD -- Butina was being held in solitary confinement which is torture. She was -- according to her lawyers -- suffering a psychological breakdown. She would have agreed to anything just to get the Gestapo off of her back. Most people would. The fact that she took a plea means she wanted the torture to stop, not that she did anything or knows anything. It is important for us to keep focused on what really happened.



I doubt that Whitaker has any control over Mueller. There is no record of his even having spoken to Mueller yet. And most likely Mueller would refuse to speak with him. Mueller is a very arrogant person. In his role as FBI director, he accepted no oversight from congress and refused to give them any information. This is typical for FBI directors. Comey did it last week in his testimony to congress. But Mueller was even more arrogant.

The new AG may be different, but I doubt it. Barr is too long established in the Deep State to challenge Mueller. He will know where real power comes from.
 
 
+5 # HDSMTS 2018-12-13 05:51
"This article does what much responsible journalism does, sort out what we know and point to what might well happen given the facts." The first half of your sentence is correct. The second half is not. The second half describes analysis, supposition, and opinion. In responsible journalism, not what we get in most places anymore, sources are on the record and verified by one or two other named sources. A news story does not contain analysis, supposition, or opinion, but just the factsThis article does what much responsible journalism does, sort out what we know and point to what might well happen given the facts. It assumes that the reader/viewer/l istener is competent to draw their own conclusions. Analysis, opinion, and supposition are clearly marked as such. This, at least, is what they used to teach in journalism classes. I have no idea what they teach today.
 
 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-15 08:56
Although I am beginning to think that post Nov. elections is a turning point in the Deep State war against Trump and the Mueller offensive, it is good to be reminded that we have heard all of this before.

Check out this amazing video --

https://www.facebook.com/superdeluxevideo/videos/334934007258496/
 
 
+3 # McGeorge Govern 2018-12-15 15:59
We would do well to recall what started this whole "Russia-gate' scandal. Emails were published by WikiLeaks showing collusion by the DNC & Clinton campaign to rig the Dem primary elections against Bernie Sanders. No one has challenged the authenticity of those leaked emails. Someone noisily changed the subject, however.
 

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