Connections between the accidents, incidents, and elections – did we look into it? – by Michael Novakhov

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If “Russia used Facebook to organize racist rallies to help Trump”, why can’t we venture a mental step further and assume that the increase in the incidents of mass shootings, aggression against the police, incidents  with the racial overtones, transportation accidents, all of which demonstrate the clear statistical “pre-election bumps” (hikes, increases), in 2008, and in 2012, and in 2016, were inspired, and/or conducted by the same actors, and with the same goal: to “elect” their candidate, which in 2016 apparently was Trump. Did we look into it?

The answer, (that all these listed phenomena are the hypothetical parts of the operational whole) is clear to me, on the basis of the daily monitoring of the press reports on these subject in 2015 and 2016. Compile and analyze the statistics, and I think, you might get the same or the very similar impression. See also posts on this subject in my blogs. It is interesting to note, that this opinion, regarding the presence of the signs of the foreign interference in the elections prior to 2016, (although not necessarily with the same range of agreed upon details and analysis, and independently arrived at), coincides completely with the one of Mike Pompeo who surely is very well informed on this subject. CIA Director Mike Pompeo: ‘Of course’ Russia interfered in the 2016 election, ‘and the one before that… I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community,” Pompeo said, appearing agitated at the skepticism towards his previous answer. “I hope I didn’t stop at 2008 [for when he says Russian began interfering in U.S. elections]. You can go back to the 70s. My point was simply this: This threat is real. The U.S. government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, has to figure out a way to fight back against it and defeat it. And we’re intent upon doing that.” 

There must be a much broader group of people who share more or less the same impressions and the same opinion: the foreign interference in the US elections is a long standing phenomenon, and especially malignant from 1950-s, on a post-WW2 wave. 

What we need now, is not just the impressions and opinions, but more or less definitive studies, including the high-quality statistical ones, on this very important and forward looking subject, and also, of course, the strategic thinking and the strategic planning. 

Michael Novakhov

9.12-13.17 

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Russia used Facebook to organize racist rallies to help Trump – Shareblue Media

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Shareblue Media
Russia used Facebook to organize racist rallies to help Trump
Shareblue Media
The FBI has reportedly been examining the Trump campaign’s data operation, and officials told CNN they are “examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign — wittingly or unwittingly — to try to help Russia’s own data …
Russian paid Facebook to promote pro-Trump eventsMashable
Senate Russia investigators weigh issuing interim reportPolitico
Russia All Up In Trump Racists’ Facebooks, Inviting Them To Racism Sex Orgies!Wonkette (blog)
The Hill
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Meet the ‘Philly Central HS grad’ who was really a Russian troll helping Trump win – Philly.com

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Philly.com
Meet the ‘Philly Central HS grad’ who was really a Russian troll helping Trump win
Philly.com
An illustration of Facebook logo, on May 9, 2016. The discovery that a Russian company bought election-related Facebook ads in last year’s presidential race opens new avenues for Justice Department and congressional investigators.

Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence

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Enter Brexit

Britain’s exit from the European Union will deprive Central and Eastern European governments of a key ally when

it comes to EU reform

. Like them, the United Kingdom sees the bloc as a trade association among countries not necessarily interested in developing supranational structures. London has been skeptical of proposals to federalize the European Union and has obtained multiple opt-outs from initiatives such as the euro or the passport-free Schengen area. For Poland and Hungary, a United Kingdom that defends these views from within the EU was a much more valuable ally than a country that is on its way out of the bloc and uncertain about its future.

In addition, the impact of the British referendum was so profound that most EU leaders now understand that they cannot remain immobile. In recent months, there has been a plethora of proposals for EU reform. Most are in an embryonic phase, and many will be watered down or shelved. But there is a common narrative that makes Central and Eastern Europe nervous. Most of the plans involve the eurozone, not the European Union as a whole. This makes sense, as the crisis of the past decade focused primarily on the currency union, and its members are particularly driven to solve its pending problems. But underneath this seemingly pragmatic view, there is a deeper message: The European Union is the eurozone, and the countries that do not use the euro are not as relevant as those that do.

This connects directly to the concept of a “

multi-speed Europe

,” a Continental bloc where some countries deepen their integration while others do not. The European Union already moves at different speeds because, for example, some countries use the euro while others don’t, and some countries take part in the Schengen Agreement while others don’t. But so far, the official goal of the European Union is that at some point all its member states will reach the same level of integration. If the European Union were to abandon its pledge of an “ever closer union,” the political and institutional environment on the Continent would be severely disrupted. It would mean that for first time the bloc is officially acknowledging the existence of first- and second-tier member states.

This is a worrisome prospect for Central and Eastern Europe. The region depends on the European Union for trade, investment, subsidies and, to some extent, security. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are intimately connected to the German economy. Poland and Romania see membership as a part of

their security strategy

, which consists of having as many international alliances as possible to deter Russian aggression. Should these countries opt out, or be excluded, from the next stage of Continental reform, some would have to rely on the United States for investment, protection or energy imports. But the White House may not be as interested in subsidizing Polish farmers or paying for Romania’s roads as Brussels is.

Since the end of the Cold War, peace and prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe were the result of a combination of close ties with the United States and of membership in the European Union and NATO. If any of these factors is removed from the equation, entire national strategies have to be revised. A point could be made that in the case of weaker ties between Central and Eastern Europe and the rest of the European Union, NATO membership could be enough to provide security to the region. But security is not only connected to the military. Over the past two decades, EU membership has meant more solid institutions, more transparent democracies and a stronger rule of law in the former Communist bloc. All of these reduce the room for Russian manipulation, especially when Moscow’s strategy is based on exploiting institutional shortcomings, not just on military intervention.

Difficult Choices Ahead

Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already suggested that they intend to remain as close as possible to the Continent’s biggest players. Their decisions are motivated by economic and historical reasons, because they are former members of the Holy Roman Empire that are intimately connected to the German economy. But the choice will be harder for Poland and Hungary, which are governed by nationalist forces that see the European Union’s federalist and post-national aspirations as a threat to their national sovereignty and identity.

Geopolitics suggests that Poland should want to remain as close as possible to Western Europe. The existence of Poland as a nation, located in the heart of the North European Plain and easy to invade, has been challenged traditionally by

Germany and Russia

, forcing Warsaw to seek as many foreign allies as possible. Germany is no longer an immediate threat, but Poland still feels an intense sense of urgency — more than its peers in the Visegrad Group — when it comes to Russia. And this is where Polish and Hungarian imperatives diverge, because Budapest does not perceive an external threat the way Warsaw does.

It is also possible that the nationalist governments in Warsaw and Budapest are only an exception and that sooner or later pro-European administrations could return to power. In fact, there have been large demonstrations against both governments in recent years. So far, the contradiction between criticizing the European Union and enjoying the benefits of membership has not led to any meaningful consequences in the rebel countries. As the prospect of weaker ties with the bloc becomes more real, voters could return to pro-EU leaders. But the more the nationalist rhetoric takes root in these countries, the harder it will be for them to change direction.

But Central and Eastern European countries are not the only ones facing strategic choices; dilemmas lie ahead for Western European countries as well. In recent weeks France has criticized Poland and Hungary, suggesting that

their participation is not essential

 for the next stage of EU reform. In addition, France and Austria have pledged to restrict the use of an EU program that allows Central and Eastern European nationals to find temporary jobs in Western Europe. EU officials, in turn, have threatened to suspend voting rights and even to cut funding for countries that fail to follow the bloc’s rules.

But enforcing these threats could fuel new waves of nationalism in the region. A weaker EU presence in Central and Eastern Europe could lead to illiberal and unstable states on the bloc’s eastern flank, creating political, economic and even security threats for the European Union. Such a scenario would profoundly worry Germany. The fate of the region may be a secondary concern for France, but Germany sees the area as its natural sphere of economic and political influence. In the coming debate on the future of Europe, Berlin will probably seek to be involved in the region as much as possible. This could come at the price of compromises and watered-down EU policies to accommodate the region.

Roadblocks to Reform

The question of whether Central and Eastern Europe will let go of the EU is intimately linked to the question of whether the EU will let go of the region. And, all things considered, a multi-speed Europe may never happen. As well as managing existing East-West tensions, EU reforms have to

overcome

 the grating relationships between Europe’s northern and southern members, which have different views of the bloc’s future. Regardless, the mere discussion of a reformed European Union is enough to trigger strategic discussions in Central and Eastern Europe. After all, this is a region where the fate of nations is often determined by events beyond their borders.

For the European Union, the main challenge will be to find a balance between countries that want to deepen cooperation on monetary, fiscal, defense and migration affairs and countries that are reluctant to give up their national sovereignty. Without the United Kingdom, the ability of Central and Eastern Europe countries to shape the negotiations will be heavily constrained, forcing those countries to make decisions that they have been able to avoid for two decades.

Read the whole story
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Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence – STRATFOR

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Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence
STRATFOR
Recently, several Central and Eastern European countries have tried to increase military, economic and energy cooperation from the Baltic to the Black seas to enhance their autonomy. … Poland and Romania see membership as a part of their security and more »

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief imminent

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russian propaganda in 2016 elections – Google Search

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Story image for russian propaganda in 2016 elections from PBS NewsHour

Russian propaganda group purchased ads on Facebook during …

PBS NewsHourSep 9, 2017
Facebook announced Wednesday that a Russian propaganda organization … to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, voting or the candidates.
Facebook’s widening role in electing Trump
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FBI investigates Russian news agency Sputnik

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WASHINGTON — The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, as part of an investigation into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).


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Trump Lawyers Reportedly Wanted Jared Kushner To Step Down Due To Russia Investigations

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Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts

The World Web TimesNews | Photos | Audio and Video | Politics | Trump | Security | Reviews | Analysis | Current Topics | Opinions | Links | PostsLocal | Guides | Classifieds | News reading lists, review of media reports, digests, reviews, summaries, editors selected important articles

Trump – from Huffington Post

Trump – from Huffington Post from mikenova (1 sites)

The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser has drawn scrutiny in multiple probes of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Donald Trump

Trump News Review

1. Trump from mikenova (194 sites)
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump adviser suggests Mexico wall funding won’t be linked to Daca legislation
Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Trump May Kick Iran Deal Debate to Senate, the Islamic States Bastion Pinched on Two Fronts, the Gulf Crisis Gets Even More Petty
Donald Trump: Schwarzman says Trump business panel disbanded under pressure over protests
Trump – Google News: Trump Organization drops birther crusade from Trump’s corporate biography – CNN
trump under federal investigation – Google News: Report: Trump’s Legal Team Drew Up a Statement in Case Jared Kushner Was Forced to Resign – Esquire.com
trump russian ties – Google News: Hillary Clinton just accused Trump associates of collusion with Russia – Washington Post
trump russia ties – Google News: Hillary Clinton just accused Trump associates of collusion with Russia – Washington Post
Trump Investigations – Google News: Trump meets Malaysia leader under investigation by his Justice Department – CNN
trump criminal investigation – Google News: Trump meets Malaysia leader under investigation by his Justice Department – CNN
trump investigated by the fbi – Google News: Trump Staffers’ Loyalty Tested as Mueller Closes In – Vanity Fair
Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Does Equifax Owe Victims a Duty of Care?
Saved Stories – 1. Trump
Late-night TV on Steve Bannon, ‘ex-chief strategist and human sloppy joe’
Trump tweets out book reviews for ‘know nothing’ authors – Fox News
Who is Hope Hicks, the 28-year-old new White House communications director? – Telegraph.co.uk
Clinton says ‘no doubt’ Trump team intersected with Russia – Daily Mail
US warns China, Russia to comply on NKorea sanctions – Brownsville Herald
White House says Trump was right to fire Comey from FBI – The Denver Post
Trump Staffers’ Loyalty Tested as Mueller Closes In – Vanity Fair
Hillary Clinton just accused Trump associates of collusion with Russia – Washington Post
Report: Trump’s Legal Team Drew Up a Statement in Case Jared Kushner Was Forced to Resign – Esquire.com
Trump officials call out China, Russia for helping N. Korea evade sanctions – The Hill
Retiring GOP congressman: Donald Trump is the party’s new litmus test – Salon
The Disturbing Paradox of Presidential Power – Foreign Policy (blog)
Tuesday’s Morning Email: Trump Weighs Tougher Strategy on Iran
Clinton: Media rewarded Trump for ‘bigoted’ attacks – The Hill
Alex Jones, Roger Stone agree: Someone may be drugging President Trump – Salon
Top Republican’s attempt to steer the Trump-Russia probe toward ‘unmasking’ may be about to backfire spectacularly – Yahoo News

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Sputnik investigation | Firtash could be extradited: The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik | Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday

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Day in Photos – Voice of America: September 11, 2017 

M.N.:

  • Stop the immigration from Russia and the former USSR! 
  • Stop the abuse of green card lottery by Russian Intelligence and Russian Mob! 
  • Send all the Russian agents back to Russia (after flipping them)! 
  • Revive and reanimate the US government media outlets, such as RL-RFE and VOA, supply them with the new set of steel teeth! 
  • Investigate thoroughly the foreign interference (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and others) in the previous US elections, especially of 2012, which were the antecedents of the present crisis, learn from it and prevent it with the unsurmountable firewalls! 
  • Turn all the influence devices, that the US opponents used, back onto them, magnify them ten fold, and fight them with their own weapons! 

Wake up, already! 

The Cold War is not over, it just has started! 

______________________________

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Some of Trump’s lawyers advised the president this summer that Jared Kushner should step down as a senior White House adviser due to his dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople, arguing that Kushner’s position would create legal complications for the president in relation to the Russia investigation. Carol D. Leonnig reports at the Washington Post.

The connections between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could ultimately lead to the undoing of both of their presidencies, creating domestic difficulties for the respective leaders and causing foreign policy tensions. Gideon Rachman argues at the Financial Times.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Attorney General Jeff Session and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats urged Republicans and Democrats yesterday to permanently renew a wide-ranging surveillance law authorized by section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Services Act. Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.

A U.S. citizen will stand trial in Brooklyn today on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaeda and helping to prepare a 2009 car bomb on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. Brendan Pierson reports at Reuters.

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SputnikNewsSputnik investigation – News 

“This is incredibly significant,” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent and now an associate dean of Yale Law School, about the bureau’s questioning of the former Sputnik reporter. “The FBI has since the 1970s taken pains not to be perceived in any way as infringing on First Amendment activity. But this tells me they have good information and intelligence that these organizations have been acting on behalf of the Kremlin and that there’s a direct line between them and the [Russian influence operations] that are a significant threat to our democracy…

In his letter to Justice, Fionda  said he was employed by RIA Global LLC, a media company associated with Sputnik, from Sept. 5 to Oct. 19, 2015. During that time, Fionda wrote, Sputnik conducted “a perception management information warfare program” about Russia’s military involvement in Syria. He said the news organization falsely described Russia’s targets in that country as “terrorists” affiliated with the jihadist group ISIS when, he asserted, the Russian forces were actually bombing other anti-Assad rebel groups.

In another instance, Fionda said, an article he wrote in September 2015 about President Obama’s repatriation of Guantánamo detainees to a number of countries was “censored” to omit any reference to the fact that six of the detainees were being sent back to Russia, where they were later imprisoned… 

Fionda said his last straw with Sputnik came on Oct. 19, 2015, after excerpts of private emails from then-CIA Director John Brennan were published by a hacker on Twitter. He claimed Gavasheli, Sputnik’s U.S. editor in chief, asked him to “obtain the CIA Director’s stolen emails” from the hacker.

“I refused because I believed this was a solicitation to espionage,” Fionda wrote.

When he refused the order, Fionda wrote that Gavasheli told him to “get the f— out of my office” and then fired him. Gavasheli, in his interview with Yahoo News, denied this and said Fionda was fired after falsely claiming his father was ill in order to take time off from work… 

The probe into Sputnik also comes shortly after the Russian news agency announced a significant expansion in the U.S. capital: It took over a popular Washington FM radio station dedicated to playing bluegrass music and replaced it with an all-talk format with hosts who regularly criticize U.S. policies — as well as one co-host who is a former Breitbart News reporter and Trump supporter. “I’m sure you heard a lot about us,” Gavasheli was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “Now you can actually listen to us.” 

Russian operatives created events on Facebook to organize political protests in the U.S., 

including an August 2016 anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rally in Idaho. Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer Ackerman reveal at The Daily Beast.

Russian propaganda in 2016 elections – News

Image result for sputnik is GRU's fellow traveler

Sputnik is GRU’s fellow traveler News

Story image for sputnik is GRU's fellow traveler from Daily Beast

Inside Russia’s Fake News Playbook

Daily BeastApr 27, 2017
Content created by white outlets (RT and Sputnik News) promoting the … “FellowTravelers” – In some cases, Russia has curried the favor of “Fellow … such as those GRU [Russia’s foreign intelligence agency] leaders and …

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Dmytro Firtash – News | Dmytro Firtash extradition – News 

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …

Chicago Tribune12 hours ago
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday. (GEORGES SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images).

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sputnik investigation – Google Search

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Story image for sputnik investigation from HuffPost

Sputnik, The Russian News Agency, Is Under Investigation By The FBI

HuffPost17 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency …
US Probes Russia’s Sputnik News Agency for Foreign Agent Law …
InternationalThe Moscow Times11 hours ago
FBI Questions Former Sputnik Correspondent In Election-Meddling …
In-DepthRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty15 hours ago

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief … – Chicago Tribune

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Chicago Tribune
Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …
Chicago Tribune
Prosecutors say wiretapped conversations link Ukrainian to Chicago, argue he will flee to Russia.and more »

Russian news agency that pushed DNC conspiracy reportedly under FBI investigation – Business Insider Nordic

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Russian news agency that pushed DNC conspiracy reportedly under FBI investigation
Business Insider Nordic
The FBI is investigating whether Russia’s state-owned Sputnik News is a propaganda arm of the Kremlin and therefore operating in the United States in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Yahoo News reported Sunday. Sputnik’s former …and more »

FBI probes Russian news agency over election propaganda – New York Post

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New York Post
FBI probes Russian news agency over election propaganda
New York Post
The FBI is investigating a Russian government-backed news agency to see if it spread Kremlin propaganda during the 2016 presidential election, according to a report on Monday. Federal agents have obtained a thumb drive that contains thousands of …and more »

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other
Financial Times
If Vladimir Putin did help to put Donald Trump in the White House, it would be the ultimate intelligence coup. Yet, it might also prove to be the ultimate own goal. An operation designed to ease the pressure on Mr Putin’s government by installing a 
Putin on Trump: He’s not my bride, and I’m not his groomNewburgh Gazette
Putin’s peacekeepers: Beware of Russians bearing giftsEuropean Council on Foreign Relations
Not in love: Putin declares Trump is not his brideHi-tech Beacon
The Nation. –HiTechFacts
all 50 news articles »

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …

Chicago Tribune12 hours ago
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday. (GEORGES SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images).

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Austrian Court Rejects Spanish Extradition Request For Ukrainian …

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibertyAug 30, 2017
A court in Austria has rejected a Spanish extradition request for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. The move paves the way for the …

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Extradition of Ukrainian oligarch with links to Trump campaign …

Chicago TribuneAug 31, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …

Russian thread runs through Chicago extradition case

WLS-TVSep 8, 2017
Firtash is weeks or months away from extradition to stand trial here because Austria has already made a final decision that extradition is …
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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other

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If Vladimir Putin did help to put Donald Trump in the White House, it would be the ultimate intelligence coup. Yet, it might also prove to be the ultimate own goal. An operation designed to ease the pressure on Mr Putin’s government by installing a friendly face in the White House has instead led to a tightening of sanctions on Russia, and a dangerous increase in the domestic political pressure on the Russian president.

As for Mr Trump, his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia may have aided his electoral victory at the risk of destroying his presidency. It would be a strange irony if the intimacy of the Putin and Trump camps ultimately ended both presidents’ political careers.

Of course, the Russian government and Mr Trump’s diehard defenders still deny that any such collusion took place. But the US intelligence services are certain that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic party emails.

It seems likely that the hack influenced the course of a tight election. I was in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic convention in July 2016 when the first leaked emails were released. The revelation that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, had been privately disparaging the Bernie Sanders campaign forced her resignation, and ensured that the convention got off to a chaotic start.

Mr Sanders’ supporters were convinced that their man had been robbed. And Sanders voters who switched to the Republicans, were crucial to Mr Trump’s victories in the vital states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. We now also know that Russian operators used Facebook and Twitter to spread anti-Clinton messages.

Throughout the campaign, Mr Trump was consistently sympathetic to the Kremlin. Whether he was motivated by ideology, investment or some embarrassing secret has yet to emerge.

But the Russian connection set off the chain of events that may ultimately unravel his presidency. Alarmed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into his Russian contacts, Mr Trump sacked James Comey, the head of the FBI.

The backlash against the Comey sacking led to the appointment of Robert Mueller, a former head of the Bureau, as a special prosecutor to look into the Trump-Russia connection. And the remorseless progress of the Mueller inquiry is likely to spark indictments and resignations. That, in turn, could lead to the impeachment of Mr Trump — and the destruction of his presidency.

As for Mr Putin, the moment it became clear that his gamble might backfire was when Mr Trump was forced to sack General Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, for not disclosing contacts with the Russian government. From that point on, it became politically impossible for Mr Trump to help Russia by easing sanctions. On the contrary, the backlash against Russian interference in the US election has led to the intensification of sanctions, with a distrustful Congress ensuring that Mr Trump cannot lift these measures unilaterally.

Indeed, for the Republican Congress getting tough on Russia seems to have become a surrogate for getting tough on Mr Trump. The sanctions added over the summer were aimed specifically at the Russian mining and oil industries, In response, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, accused the US of “a declaration of full-fledged economic warfare on Russia”.

So far from improving under Mr Trump, US-Russian relations are now as bitter as at any time since the height of the cold war. Realising that the Trump administration will not be able to lift sanctions, the Kremlin resorted to a mass expulsion of US diplomats in response to an earlier expulsion of Russians by the Obama administration. The prospect that the US might supply arms to Ukraine has become much more real. And Russia is about to embark on some major military exercises in eastern Europe, which will heighten US fears.

The irony for Mr Putin is that, if he had simply let events take their course, sanctions on Russia could have been eased in the natural run of events — even with Hillary Clinton in the White House. Mrs Clinton had already tried one “reset” with Russia as secretary of state, and might have been prepared to try another. Many in Europe were also tiring of sanctions on Russia.

When the Mueller inquiry reports, there is likely to be a renewed spike in American outrage towards Russia. The most obvious threat is posed to Mr Trump. But the Mueller inquiry also poses an indirect threat to Mr Putin. He will contest a presidential election in March and faces a re-energised opposition, led by the popular and daring Alexei Navalny, and a deteriorating economy that has hit Russian consumers hard. Even though very few people expect Mr Putin to lose the election, the pro-Putin euphoria of a couple of years ago is clearly fading. Articles about the post-Putin era have begun to appear in the Russian media.

Above all, the most powerful economic interests in Russia now know that there is no longer any light at the end of the sanctions tunnel. In fact, things are likely to get worse. Something radical will have to change to get sanctions lifted. And that change might be the removal of Mr Putin from the Kremlin. Indeed, it is only when Mr Trump and Mr Putin both go that it may truly be possible to reset US-Russian relations.

gideon.rachman@ft.com

If you are a subscriber, add Gideon to myFT in order to receive alerts when his articles are published. To do so, just click the button “add to myFT” which appears on his author page

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Why Robert Mueller May Have to Give Donald Trump Immunity

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The Trump-Russia Investigation has accelerated. Armed with more evidence, and assisted by many of the most talented prosecutors and investigators in the country, special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., to investigate whether President Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to win the White House.


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