Follow The Rubles

The similarities between Watergate and Russiagate are astounding. Besides, Watergate is a great frame of reference for baby boomers and students of history in general. The guiding words the anonymous source Deep Throat gave crusading investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post were, “Follow the money.” That has become an unofficial mantra for all us amateur Russiagate sleuths. Today I’m suggesting a modification: Follow the rubles. Let’s explore.  

Early this week the story of Trump confidants being involved in a Russian real estate deal on the behalf of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign became public. Trump’s personal lawyer and former Senior Vice President of the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, told Congressional investigators that he had e-mailed Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman, Dmitry Peskow, asking for help with a stalled Trump real estate venture in Moscow in January of 2016.

Cohen also testified that Trump signed a letter of intent for the deal on October 28, 2015. Trump declared his candidacy in June of 2015. Trump has repeatedly said he had no Russian business deals. Am I the only one having a difficult time squaring this circle?

The story goes deeper than what I have listed. is not a news source and has never claimed to be. The New York Times, Washington Post and (surprisingly the conservative) Wall Street Journal are doing a good job of covering the scandal’s details.

I am among those who have for some time felt the root of the story entails international money laundering. As damning as these revelations are, they are only part of the story. I lack the expertise and resources to do the necessary investigations to uncover a large international money laundering operation, (but Robert Mueller doesn’t).  I’ll be content to watch it unfold and do op-eds on it.

In fairness, I have to offer a partial defense of Richard Nixon. As bad as Watergate was at least Nixon kept it in America. Trump has exposed us to foreign intervention and blackmail. Nixon may have been a petty crook, but Trump is a security risk.

Russia is basically an organized criminal enterprise. Of course, that is also how I have characterized the Trump administration. The axiom for Russiagate investigators is: Follow the rubles. The lesson for Team Trump is that you can’t do clean deals with dirty people. Of course, that is on the most likely misguided assumption that Trump was actually interested in doing clean deals in the first place.

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