Foreign Policy Digital

Mueller’s Bombshells Are About Putin, Not Trump

The special counsel’s report reveals a disorganized government with unclear lines of authority—and not just in Washington.

For as long as the storm clouds of Russiagate have swirled over the Trump White House, the key question has been: What did U.S. President Donald Trump know, and when? Yet the report on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election written by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team and released to the public on Thursday confirms that he was focused on a related, but different, question: What did Russian President Vladimir Putin do, and when?

And in that sense, Mueller undoubtedly delivered. Whatever it tells us about the Trump team’s collusion with outside actors to influence the election, the Mueller report does offer a unique look into the murky world of Kremlin intrigue. Above all, it paints a portrait of a Russian government that in large part is as disorganized and shambolic as its counterpart in the United States.

Vladimir Putin has become the shadowy of U.S. politics: a seemingly omnipotent,, sowing “” across , and subverting the entire . Ever since Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton famously sniped about who was really Putin’s “puppet,” Putin himself has been conspicuously absent from discussions of potential collusion. Like Keyser Soze or Thanos, Putin is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.

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