Vladimir Putin arrests four U.S. intel assets in Russia. Did Donald Trump give them up?

Based on their words and behavior, if we know one thing about the Russian election hacking scandal, it’s that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would both like to make it go away — but just what lines are they willing to cross to try to insulate them from a scandal that could ruin them both? We’ve now learned that Putin had four members of his own Russian intelligence community, including one of its leaders, summarily arrested after he learned that they were working with the U.S., and it raises the question of just where Putin got that information from.

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This much we know for sure: Putin had one of the leaders of the FSB, which is the modern day KGB, arrested in front of his colleagues during a meeting. In case the message wasn’t clear enough, the arresting officers placed a bag over his head and physically dragged him from the room according to USA Today. Putin has also had three more Russian intel agents arrested since the election. It very much appears that these four men were U.S. intel assets, working with the U.S. intelligence community to try to put an end to the hacking before election day.

And yet Putin didn’t appear to learn their identities until after Donald Trump was sworn in and began receiving his first fully detailed security briefings, which include the kind of detailed classified information not included in the briefings given to presidential nominees. There is no direct evidence that Trump gave the identities of these U.S. assets in Russia to Putin. But within the context of Trump’s bizarre affinity for Putin, Putin’s alleged blackmail material over Trump, and their shared desire to bury this scandal before it takes them both down, the timing is suspect enough that the matter needs to be investigated.

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