Free Association: Follow The Money, Part Two

Recalling that the essential question is why does the current Administration conduct itself with such concern for Russian interests?  The explicit rationale is a rather vague: Wouldn’t it be nice to have better relations with the Russians?  Why and to what ends?  The tangle is greater, and more elusive, in this realm. Some information is public, some is public but wrapped in the comfortable enclosure of shell corporations, and some is hidden from public view entirely at the present.

What is publicly available from several credible sources:

Alan Lichtman — Fortune Magazine, 5/17/17; from Jeff Nesbit — Time Magazine, 8/15/16;  from Jeremy Venook — Atlantic, 5/10/17;  from Michael Crowley — Politico, March 2017; and from Yen & Salma, PBS.org, 5/28/17.  This is +by no means an exhaustive list, as a quick ‘Google’ of Trump + Ties + Russia will quickly reveal.

Further complicating the view, not all ties have to be monetary.  Some can be in the form of patents approved, patents themselves have financial value.  Others can be in the form of real estate transactions.  Still others can be maintained via a carefully crafted set of shell corporations each hiding the transactions between and among them.

The question may boil down to whether or not these ties are so substantial and of such depth that the administration is inevitably bound to respond in some kind to ‘return the favors extended?’

Yet another strand of wool concerns the possibility that the nature of some transactions is such that dealing with the partners constitutes anything from “exceedingly unwise and inappropriate,” to downright illegal.

Another bit of fluffy stuff:  Are some of the transactions made with or among individuals of such an unsavory character that merely dealing with them could render a person vulnerable to blackmail?

The only glimpse we have into some of the inquiries of the Special Counsel that offers any substantial clues to date concerns the hiring choices reported.  How nervous the administration might be about this line of inquiry may be perceived in the administration’s quick reaction which attempts to paint these hires as “tainted by politics,” a charge resting solely on campaign contribution reports during the last 29 years.  Perhaps the more important point is that the hires are specialists:  Andrew Weissman was the lead during the Enron investigation.  Among the hires are a specialist in counter-terrorism, a lawyer who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, and a former assistant special prosecutor during Watergate. [BusInsider]  We might also be able to see something about the direction of the investigation(s) given that Robert Mueller is hiring prosecutors.

We can make some educated conjectures based on this:

“Robert Mueller in recent days has hired lawyers with extensive experience in dealing with fraud, racketeering, and other financial crimes to help him investigate whether President Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.”

We might also assume that if Mueller is described at meticulous,and Weissman is described as meticulous the investigation is going to last at least until the last T is crossed and I is dotted.  Patience.

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