Rachel Maddow: Russian FSB Agent Dragged Out With Bag Over Head Raises Trump-Putin Questions

Scott Hough

Yesterday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow presented an in-depth feature on questions being raised about possible connections between United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the wake of new revelations coming forth from the former Soviet state.

Yesterday, independent Russian publisher Novaya Gazeta, founded by Mikhail Gorbachev with funds from his Nobel Peace Prize, reported that in early December 2016, FSB agent Sergei Mikhailov was arrested, dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head, and has not been seen or heard from since. Rachel Maddow reports that Mikhailov was also charged with treason. Then, Ruslan Stoyanov a high-level cybersecurity official with a private firm, was arrested on "suspicion of treason," as reported by USA Today.

Maddow asked viewers to consider a high-ranking official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Central Intelligence Agency sitting in a meeting, only to be suddenly arrested and pulled out with a bag over their head, not to be heard from again. She then walked through all the "crazy stuff" coming out of the Trump administration, including the executive order to build a wall along the Mexican border, despite the fact that the U.S. has experienced net negative immigration from Mexico, as reported by Pew Research; President Trump's claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election; and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon's call to the New York Times instructing the media to "keep its mouth shut."

Stating that the reports from the government security agencies constitute "live, current, forward-looking concerns" about whether the Trump administration may be "compromised by foreign influence," Maddow went on to note that the current nominee for secretary of state is Rex Tillerson, who may have a "closer, personal relationship than any other living American" with Vladimir Putin. The former Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) chief executive officer was personally awarded the Russian "order of friendship" by the Russian president. Maddow described Tillerson's nomination as secretary of state as "all but assured."

Then, yesterday, at least four senior members of the State Department resigned simultaneously, and are said to have been asked to do so by the White House, as reported by NBC Montana. Laura Kennedy called the exodus a "dangerous purge" in a tweet. Maddow noted that the people being ousted are not easily replaceable.

"How to they explain this stuff? Why is all this happening?" Rachel Maddow appeared genuinely befuddled. "What has Russia done to deserve getting out of the sanctions our country put on them?"

Maddow reminded viewers that the reason Russian sanctions were enacted was because Russia had unilaterally annexed land in the sovereign state of Crimea. She asked why the U.S. is making so many concessions to the Russian president when he is providing "nothing" in return. The MSNBC host cited polls that show that 67 percent of Donald Trump's supporters hold an unfavorable view of Vladimir Putin and predicted that recent moves will come with a political price for the president.

"So why are they doing it?"

Rachel Maddow reported that investigations into Russian meddling are and will continue to be conducted, but that how thorough and effective they will be under a Trump administration remains to be seen. The host held up recent information coming out of Russia jibing with intelligence reports produced under the administration of former President Barack Obama, despite denials of involvement in U.S. affairs by the Russian government.

She opined that if Russian really had nothing to do with any of the incidents reported by the U.S. intelligence community that arrests shouldn't be happening in Russia and that instead, there should be no response at all. Maddow explained that if anything reported by the United States about Russian operations was true, then a response from the Russian government would be expected, which is what appears to be being reported now. Russian officials would be intent on learning how any factual information about the nation's intelligence operations made its way into U.S. hands, likely arresting those responsible, which is what appears to be being reported now.

"Who leaked it? Who knew what the Russian government was doing?" Maddow imagined the questions being asked by Russian officials.

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