“I don’t give a damn what Mueller didn’t find—it don’t take almost two years to figure out that Trump ain’t nothing but a crime boss.”
…among the news junkies in the federal Bureau of Prisons, Robert Mueller’s finding last month that there was no prosecutable evidence of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and those close to him and the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election landed hard. Not only did it quickly serve to reinforce the longstanding perception among prisoners—mirroring views held by some in the general public—that the game was rigged against those of lesser means, it shattered inmates’ hopes that a clownish villain who preyed on America’s fears of crime might finally get his.
For two years, in the early 1990s, Richard Palmer served as the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy. The events unfolding around him—the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia—were so chaotic, so traumatic and exhilarating, that they mostly eluded clearheaded analysis. But from all the intelligence that washed over his desk, Palmer acquired a crystalline understanding of the deeper narrative of those times.
Much of the rest of the world wanted to shout for joy about the trajectory of history, and how it pointed in the direction of free markets and liberal democracy. Palmer’s account of events in Russia, however, was pure bummer. In the fall of 1999, he testified before a congressional committee to disabuse members of Congress of their optimism and to warn them of what was to come.