After a year of largely denying it, even while throwing in the occasional wink, the Russian government is now finally admitting that it rigged the United States presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor. It’s not saying so in exact words. Instead it’s acknowledging through a state-controlled media outlet that it arrested one of its own intel officers for admitting to the U.S. that Russia rigged the election. Rachel Maddow broke this news on her show, but left it an open question as to why Russia is choosing now. I have some thoughts on that.
Keep in mind that just yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he’s “running” for reelection in early 2018 after all. I’m putting “running” in quotes because he’ll rig this election like he always does, and he’ll win automatically. But this announcement is something of a surprise, because just a week ago, someone planted a series of stories in major European newspapers which claimed Putin was considering retiring. These stories had to have been planted by the Russian oligarchs as a warning to Putin: get your act together on this nonsense with Trump and sanctions, or we will put you out of business.
To be clear, even though Putin has total control over his puppet Trump, there is nothing that Putin can do to get Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia. Both political parties are intent on increasing those sanctions, in retaliation for Putin’s decision to rig the election for Trump. There is only one possible way Putin can get those sanctions lifted, even though it may be a long shot, and he’s savvy enough to know it.
The United States will continue to take a defensive and punitive position toward Russia as long as Donald Trump illegitimately remains in power. If Trump is gone, and Russia begins to atone for its sins, then maybe those sanctions get incrementally walked back as a way of encouraging future good behavior. I’m not saying Putin is preparing to oust Trump in the hope of keeping his oligarchs happy. I’m just saying I think he’s testing the waters for ousting Trump by admitting today that he rigged the election. Watch Putin’s next move carefully.