Vlad the Imp gets into mischief. And sends a warning.

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World Economic Forum / Flickr Vladimir Putin World Economic Forum Annual...
World Economic Forum / Flickr

You know my friends, this is starting to seem like Groundhog’s Day. The holiday, not the movie. It seems like just about once a year, Punxsutawney Veselnitskaya pokes her head up out of her hole, and Vladimir Putin in a topper gravely proclaims how many more weeks of Russian winter Trump will have to suffer through

On Friday night, Natalia Veselnitskaya did a perfect job of appearing solemn, studious, self important, with just the right touch if self indignation, when she let MSNBC’s Richard Engel browbeat her into saying what she had been waiting to say all along. That she was an “informant” for the Russian government. I almost fell off of my chair when she said that! I haven’t been that surprised since Trump fired Meat Loaf.

It has been known for over a year now that Putin tinkered in our election like a 17 year old tinkers under the hood of his 2001 Chevy on a Saturday morning. I don’t believe that the original intent was to elect Trump, it was more to wreak havoc in our system, and to cause Americans to doubt the integrity of not only their elections, but the system itself. Putin has done this repeatedly all throughout Europe. The fact that they saw a chance to actually elect a candidate on whom they had more kompromat than the Library of Congress has books was just a happy circumstance.

One perfectly logical, and likely way of looking at The Natty Veselnitskaya Show, Episode Two, is that it is simply a continuation of the ongoing meddling. The government is already paralyzed by partisan bickering over the election of 2016, and Veselnitskaya’s “shocking” admission will only serve to start a fresh round of accusations and recriminations. “Mission
Accomplished” as Glorious Bleater likes to say these days.

But there is an equally logical, and equally compelling second interpretation, which is in no way conflicting with the first. Vladimir Putin just used Natalia Veselnitskaya to send a thinly veiled shot across Trump’s bow.

When Vladimir Putin realized that there was a chance that he could actually help get this pliant moron elected, he set a beautiful trap. He had everybody he could think of with a Russian last name meet with Trump advisers and surrogates. Veselnitskaya meets with Trump Jr, Manafort, and Kushner. A Russian professor meets with George Papadopoulos, Erik Prince meets with a Russian in the Seychelles, Kushner meets with Kislyak, Flynn meets with Kislyak, Sessions meets with Kislyak. Oleg Deripaska slyly starts calling in markers with Paul Manafort. The only difference between the Trump campaign and a 1960’s Communist Party meeting hall in Chicago was the lack of FBI agents sitting there recording everything. All of which could remain safely in the background, just as long as Trump behaved himself.

Except it didn’t. Because Trump and his cabal are too stupid to walk on two legs, because the country was too outraged at the incomprehensible outcome of the election, and because the Russians were too goddamned obvious about the whole thing. None of which meant jack diddly squat to Putin. What was the US going to do, go to war? His lap poodle was in the White House.

Putin helped to elect Donald Trump for one reason, and one reason only. He wanted the Magnitsky sanctions lifted. As Caribou Barbie used to ask, “How’s that whole sancty-lifty thing going for you these days?” Not only didn’t Trump get the Magnitsky sanctions lifted, his whole slap-and-tickle bromance with Putin was so revolting that congress passed brand new sanctions by such wide margins that Trump not only had to sign them, he had to start enforcing them. Putin doesn’t care about Trump’s troubles, he wants his troubles fixed, and soonest, and trotting out Natalia Veselnitskaya to resurrect her role in the Trump Tower meeting was a reminder to Trump of who is actually in charge here.

Natalia Veselnitskaya was interviewed by Richard Engel for one reason, because Vladimir Putin wanted her to be. And she said exactly what Vladimir Putin wanted her to say. At this point, it doesn’t really even matter whether or not there’s an actual “golden showers” tape, even barnyard quadrupeds no longer doubt that the Trump Organization is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kremlin. But the fact that it’s common knowledge doesn’t mean that Putin will pack up his tent and go home.

Wikileaks is still an unincorporated arm of the Russian intelligence services, and they’ll leak what Putin tells them to leak. He who is elected by the leak, can be impeached by the leak. And what if Veselnitskaya shows up to be interviewed by Mueller in Washington. While her word may be suspect, the political emphasis will shift from her having to prove her assertions, to the Trump campaign having to prove that the assertions aren’t true, especially with corroborating documentation like the Trump Jr e-mails, which Donnie Redux himself doesn’t even deny.

If Putin comes to realize that he has squeezed the the last drop of juice out of this particular national lemon, what better end result to “Operation Useful Idiot” than to put his greatest foe through a wrenching and divisive impeachment process? And he can do it. If simple, verifiable information surfaces, from Wikileaks or elsewhere, conclusively showing a Trump-Putin under the table relationship, the remaining “moderate” anti-Russian GOP congress members may well finally start to make some noise, especially vulnerable GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020, and possibly weighed down by the anvil that is Trump. While the eventual outcome may be in doubt, the likelihood of triggering the mechanism itself would be much more likely.

Donald Trump has the attention span of a two week old puppy, and what with Ronny Jackson, Michael Cohen, Scott Pruitt et al, Trump’s attention was pinballing all over the machine. Natalia Veselnitskaya’s performance on Richard Engel’s show was a wave across a crowded party from Trump’s date, with the stern reminder, “You better dance with the one that brung ya, son.”

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Alfred Higgins
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Alfred Higgins

Speaking of Punxsutawney V. and Groundhog Day, it would be no surprise if she has a mishap while taking the view from a tenth floor balcony.