Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Russian Game Unfolding

This week, I sat and read through several accounts of the federal investigator crowd going after former Trump-adviser Paul Manafort.  A month ago, they went and requested bank records of Manafort.

The game at hand?  There's a discussion that this is all part of the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Congress even says that they want Manafort to come be testify.

Back around a dozen years ago, Manafort was hired as a lobbyist and consultant for some pro-Russian folks over in the Ukraine....a year or two later, he's working for some Russian folks in Cyprus (at least the news folks say that).

The thing is....these are all businessmen, not Kremlin guys or the KGB.  It's the same type business as if some Chinese hotel owners hired you, or some South Korean cookie makers, or some Saudi oil guys, or some Brazilian cattle folks.  Lobbying is lobbying.

What makes Cyprus unique in this story?  It's one of those EU countries where you can walk in....present a lot of cash for investment purposes, and get residency or a passport.  With a Cyprus passport, you can enter any EU country without any visa.

Back around a decade ago, a lot of billionaire-type Russians started showing up in Cyprus, and dropping their investment money off there.  To be honest, you'd rather do that than put it into some Russian bank and have the government looking over your capital.  But these Russians dropped so much money into the Cyprus economy, that the banks got heavily into some investment problems, and it proved to be too much.

My guess is that the billionaire Russians reached a point where they wanted to chat with a lobbyist from DC who might lead them to the right lobbyist (the insiders to Senators) and have some laws written so they can bring money in and buy into US investment opportunities.

So, in the middle of this congressional hearing....when Manafort is asked how he helped the Russians....he's going to explain the system. Then he'll suggest to the Senators and Congressmen....that they know the lobbyists of the Russians and took their money.  At that point, the meeting will abruptly end, and everyone will sit in their office realizing how Trump led them down this path.

The news media?  They can't tell any part of this story without explaining how both Republicans and Democrats are also insiders to the Russian interference.  In a way, it's a woeful tale.  But it is amusing just how far they got without realizing who they were dealing with (Trump, or the Russians).