This week, echoing Trump, a senior Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence insisted on staying well within the presidents red lines. Playing dumb in response to demands from HPSCI Democrats who want to get records from Deutsche Bank, the German behemoth that paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for laundering dirty Russian money, Representative Mike Conway declined. I dont see the link at this stage, he told CNN, when asked about looking into Trump-Russian business and financial dealings. Deutsche Bank is a German bank—I dont see the nexus.… I bet every big bank has a Russian customer somewhere. The House committee, which is paralyzed now thanks to the antics of its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, isnt likely to get very far digging into the money trails left by Trump and his family, including son-in-law Kushner. But that hasnt stopped Mueller, along with other prosecutors, as The Nation reported in December, from trying to pry information from Deutsche Bank and elsewhere. Thanks to his indictment of Paul Manafort, Trumps 2016 campaign manager—along with deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, whos now cooperating with Mueller—on charges of bank fraud and money laundering, we can be reasonably certain that the special counsel isnt going to worry about any red lines declared by the president. Indeed, Manaforts pattern of corrupt ties to pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine is a possible source of additional Russian leverage over Team Trump (and the connection between Russian oligarchs and Republican politicians—including John McCain—is an old story, one The Nation reported on in depth nearly a decade ago). Most Popular1The Koch Brothers Get Their Very Own Secretary of State
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DP: Absolutely. I dont know that American audiences understand how important kompromat is for the Kremlin. Recently, theyve exploited financial crimes as a source of kompromat, and in the report I talk about how the enforcement of certain laws is a way to subjugate and control the oligarchy. But it can also be used abroad. Russians know very well that we have to comply with very stringent regulations, so that knowing that someone isnt operating aboveboard in business, having that knowledge creates leverage. For someone like Trump, who has operated in these risk-prone jurisdictions and whos shown a certain pattern of how he operates, I think leverage is very likely. For instance, when the Manafort indictments came out last October and then recently, my immediate thought was, well, he was working together with pro-Kremlin Ukrainians and with Yanukovych, they had knowledge that he took black-ledger payments, and that created leverage over him. And that could make him susceptible. Bob DreyfussBob Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an independent investigative journalist who specializes in politics and national security.
Just can't wrap my head around why a Russian person would be so keen to defend Trump.