Most Americans on all sides of the political aisle have a fundamental misunderstanding of what Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to accomplish when he rigged the U.S. election in favor of his puppet Donald Trump. He wasn’t merely looking for generic chaos in the United States, though he doesn’t mind it. He was specifically looking to get sanctions lifted that have been personally costing him billions of dollars. In that sense, the Trump-Russia scandal has backfired on Putin badly. In his latest public appearance, he sounded dazed and confused while trying to explain how it had all gone wrong.
The U.S. sanctions against Russia are partly a result of Putin’s murder of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, which resulted in the Magnitsky Act. Trump was supposed to lift those sanctions as soon as he got into office. Instead he’s been so unstable in office, and his Russia scandal has become so suspicious, that Congress voted to increase sanctions on Russia. Worse for Putin, Canada just enacted its own version of the Magnitsky Act, costing him even more money. Putin gave a speech about it this weekend, and he sounded completely lost:
Not only does Putin seem unsure of how to fix his worsening sanctions mess, he’s also lashing out at those whom he blames for the sanctions. Hermitage CEO Bill Browder helped fight for the Magnitsky Act to begin with, and he testified before Congress this summer that the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government were colluding to try to rig the election. This weekend Putin issued an international arrest warrant for Browder, falsely accusing him of having murdered Magnitsky. Donald Trump then immediately revoked Browder’s visa as he was trying to enter the United States, in an effort to make it easier for Putin to nab him.
John McCain intervened and got the Department of Homeland Security to restore Browder’s visa, just foiling the plot by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. And now we have Putin sounding like he’s in a daze as he (dishonestly) laments the events that led to the Magnitsky Act. It raises the question of when Putin might simply cut his losses by releasing his blackmail material on Trump, so he can move on.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report