Michael Weiss, excerpts:
You’ll recall that last month at Putin’s grinning, soccer ball-tossing press conference with Donald Trump, the Russian president stated that he would gladly allow U.S. investigators access to the 12 Russian military intelligence operatives named by Robert Mueller in a highly detailed and damning indictment for hacking Democratic email servers.
But Putin said he wanted reciprocity. He said he expected Trump to let Russian agents “question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe are—who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia.” That is, he wanted Trump to let him conduct a fishing expedition in the heart of the American security establishment.
Shortly thereafter, to drive the point home, the office of Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika named names, and Hyman’s was one of them.
Of course, most Americans have never heard of Hyman or of his two DHS colleagues, Aleksandr Schwartzman and Svetlana Angert, similarly named by Prosecutor General Chaika. But some others on Putin’s interrogation list are rather more high profile: Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia; Jonathan Winer, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement; and Kyle Parker, the chief of staff of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which often spotlights corruption in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The case of the DHS troika is especially revealing, because Putin and his ilk like to accuse others of the crimes they might be charged with themselves. Hyman, Schwartzman and Angert were not laundering money, as Putin and his prosecutor would suggest; they were investigating money launderers. But by implying some sort of nefarious connection, Putin plays to the rogue agent deep-state paranoia of the Trump White House.
The three were integral to the compilation of the U.S. government’s evidence in a much-publicized civil asset forfeiture case brought against Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-registered company suspected of laundering Russian public funds obtained through an elaborate tax fraud. Some of that money, according to U.S. prosecutors, wound up in Manhattan luxury real estate, which is what piqued the federal investigators’ interest and gave them jurisdiction.
Russia’s president is obsessed with the U.S. investigation into hundreds of millions in ill-gotten gains that have benefited his cronies—and very possibly him as well.
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