All U.S. intelligence services agree that Russia attacked, and continues to attack, our system of elections. Recently, (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller’s investigation indicted a dozen Russian hackers.
As reported by USA Today and multiple media outlets: “Twelve Russian military intelligence officers were charged Friday in a far-reaching hacking scheme that targeted the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign as part of the Kremlin’s effort to undermine the 2016 election, the Justice Department announced.”
A critical ancillary issue arises from these indictments. Let us assume that U.S. intelligence services have information that establishes that beyond a reasonable doubt these actions by the Russian military must have been directed by Vladimir Putin, and to an even higher level of assurance that after the attacks began, Putin was aware of them, and allowed them to continue, to the present day.
If there is enough information to support this hypothesis, then given the mandate of the special counsel, he would be obliged to indict Putin as the “grandmaster” of these attacks on two fronts.
One basis is that Mueller is empowered and expected to pursue all crimes that arise as a result of his investigation, regardless of whether they are linked to the original charter. This factor is easily discounted as Putin’s role is directly within Mueller’s original charge. The second motivation is the well-established precedent of seeking out and bringing to justice the highest level of miscreants associated with a crime, even to the extent of giving relief to underlings who expose the sins of their superiors.
Given this logic, the missing link is obviously based upon this question: Does the U.S. have enough evidence of Putin’s involvement to convince a grand jury to indict him? It should be noted that there does not seem to be any constitutional impediment to indicting a head of state vs. a foreign national.
For almost any observer of the Russian government, the intuitive response is that in Russia, nothing of import can start, and be allowed to continue, without the approval of Putin. To the extent that this can be established by a wealth of evidence, both direct and circumstantial, a very good case can be made that Putin should be indicted, and the subject should be addressed by a jury trial.
Trump’s invitation to Putin to come to the U.S. should not be withdrawn; however, when his plane lands in the U.S. he should immediately be taken in custody. Vladimir need not worry, however, as in the USA, he shall be afforded a fair trial, one that should be very enlightening to all of us.