The clearest sign yet that Russia has given up on Donald Trump

On Friday, Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were seen shaking hands at a summit while wearing matching outfits. It was a surreal photo op for the ages (even though the matching outfits are tradition for the summit in question), and a reminder that one of these two men installed the other in office as a puppet. Behind the scenes, however, we saw a piece of evidence this week that made clear Putin has given up on his failed investment in Trump.

Although we know that Putin and Russia bent over backward to rig the 2016 election in Trump’s favor, numerous theories have abounded as to why they went to the trouble. Relatively few people have a sufficient understanding of Putin’s specific goal: it wasn’t just to create generic chaos for the West, or achieve general control over the Oval Office, though those were supposed to be bonuses. The real story is that Putin has personally lost billions of dollars (not millions, but billions) as a result of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Putin’s Trump experiment was always about sanctions, sanctions, and sanctions – and all other factors were secondary. Trump has now irrevocably failed to get those sanctions lifted. Instead, both parties in Congress are more intent than ever on squeezing Putin financially, and that will have no chance of changing until after Putin’s puppet Trump has been ousted. Putin now seems to realize this fact. This week he had an opportunity to give the sinking Trump a major boost, and instead he took a hard pass.

On Tuesday a number of elections took place around the country. Trump desperately needed a win in the race for Governor in Virginia, where he had endorsed the Republican candidate, and would look foolish and impotent if that candidate lost. We know that Putin decided not to use his Russian hackers to rig the outcome of that election, because Trump’s candidate lost and it wasn’t even close. Putin knows he’ll continue losing huge amounts of money until Trump has been ousted. He’s no longer willing to rig things in Trump’s favor, instead leaving him to wither. How much longer before Putin decides to leak his blackmail material and end his failed Trump experiment altogether?

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report