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Reporters in Moscow usually hear the same brush-off a few times a week: Send us your request in writing, and we’ll deal with it as we see fit. But when President Vladimir Putin urged Special Counsel Robert Mueller to “send a formal and official request to us” about the indictment he brought on Friday, it was not the lazy reflex of a Russian bureaucrat who doesn’t want to answer questions. It was a calculated attempt to pull the Mueller investigation onto a playing field that Putin can control.
Here’s roughly how the Russian leader would like things to unfold: Now that the Special Counsel has indicted a group of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the U.S. elections, Putin wants to see the evidence, ideally translated into Russian and sent to the authorities in Moscow, all in accordance with an obscure law-enforcement treaty that the U.S. and Russia signed nearly two decades ago.
Investigators - Evidence - Question - Mueller - Report
Russian investigators would then take the evidence, question the accused and send Mueller back a report, which he can go and stick right up his file cabinet. This, at least, is the roadmap Putin laid out during his press conference on Monday with President Donald Trump, who referred to it as an “incredible offer.”
Incredible or not, it was calibrated not only to taunt the Special Counsel –“What’s his name again,” Putin asked at one point, as though this fact was not entirely worthy of his attention, “Mister Myuler? Miller?” – but also to leave U.S. investigators with no good options.
Mueller - Team - Step - Invitation - Suspects
If Mueller and his team take the obvious step and ignore this invitation to question the suspects, they allow both Trump and Putin to accuse him of failing to consider all the evidence, thus giving a shot in the arm to Trump’s incessant claims that the investigation is a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Time
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