I’ve been saying for some time that we don’t the Mueller Report to tell us that Donald Trump is a Russian agent of influence (a Manchurian Candidate):
The story argued that the breadth and depth of connections between Trump and Russia suggested the scandal was probably worse than most reporters and pundits perceived at the time. The media was giving too much weight to the unlikely outcomes on one side of the distribution — that Trump’s relationship with Russia was completely innocent — and discounting unlikely outcomes on the other side — that Trump was very deeply compromised. “The media has treated the notion that Russia has personally compromised the president of the United States as something close to a kook theory,” I wrote. The most likely possibility, I proposed, was that Russia was exerting some kind of hidden leverage over Trump.
The conclusion has proven completely correct. We now know that during the campaign, Trump was pursuing a building deal in Russia worth several hundred million dollars in profit, according to an indictment by Robert Mueller that Trump has not disputed. This deal created two forms of secret leverage for Vladimir Putin. First, the money was a powerful incentive for Trump to stay in Putin’s good graces. And second, since Trump was publicly denying that he had any dealings with Russia, Putin had access to secret information that he could use to embarrass Trump if he so desired.