Western news media is reporting a possible Russian intelligence purge and mole hunt by Vladimir Putin in December, as a response to the “Golden Showers” blackmail dossier CNN and Buzzfeed reported in January.
According to USA Today, Putin has black bagged and arrested three other high-ranking Russian intelligence officials, as well as the head of the top cybersecurity firm in Russia.
This weekend The Telegraph reports that ex-KGB Chief Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in his Lexus after previously being the top subordinate of Putin's Igor Sechin, an oligarch who runs Russia’s state owned Roseneft oil company.
This story is part of the continued fallout from Buzzfeed's release of the "Golden Showers" raw intelligence dossier, which has likely sparked the Russian President's lethal retaliation against one member of his own, inner circle. The Daily Mail reports:
The Kremlin may have covered up the murder of a former KGB chief accused of helping ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele to pull together the notorious dossier on Donald Trump. Oleg Erovinkin served as a general in the KGB and was found dead on Boxing Day in the back of his car in Moscow.
It has been claimed he died of a heart attack, but an expert on Russian security threats believes he was murdered for his role in the explosive dossier. The suspected murder victim was close to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who is named throughout the leaked memo, according to the Telegraph.
What's interesting about these news reports of Putin's retaliation, is that they're all emerging a month after the ex-KGB Chief's death, and when Putin's black bag arrests took place, which means that they happened in late-December.
Christo Grozev, an expert on Russia-related security threats, believes Erovinkin is the key source to whom Mr Steele refers in his dossier. Mr Grozev, of Risk Management Lab, a think tank in Bulgaria said on his blog: “Insiders have described Erovinkin to me alternately as ‘Sechin’s treasurer’ and ‘the go-between between Putin and Sechin’. One thing that everyone seems to agree – both in public and private sources – is that Erovinkin was Sechin’s closest associate.
I have no doubt that at the time Erovinkin died, Mr Putin had Mr Steele’s Trump dossier on his desk. He would – arguably – have known whether the alleged... story is based on fact or fiction. Whichever is true, he would have had a motive to seek – and find the mole... He would have had to conclude that Erovinkin was at least a person of interest.”
News analysis suggests the following; that America's intelligence agencies may have used the dossier as a Canary Trap, testing the Trump administration's ability to keep a national security matter secret by handing him a version or several of the classified document and observing the real world responses of those discussed in the trap's documents.
CNN reported the dossier's existence first on January 10th.
If Putin reacted to the dossier's revelation of leaks in his inner circle, and if America's intelligence agencies did brief Donald Trump in early December, then likely would have shared word with his National Security Advisor Gen. Matt Flynn about the infamous dossier, and perhaps with others.
Flynn’s son was unceremoniously dismissed from the Transition Team, but his association with the official business of hiring the federal government highlights the Trump administration’s inclinations towards nepotism.
In particular, Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn has been reportedly in close contact with the Russian Ambassador, at the same time that President Obama enacted sanctions, and expelled two major diplomatic missions in late-December, and the FBI has listened to those calls, with one division proclaiming them innocent to the Washington Post.
With compartmentalization, it’s impossible to know if the FBI agent who commented is actually on the investigation.
An investigation could target numerous other transition team officials or Trump associates because widespread reports indicated that the Trump team used a private, unsecured telephone to have conversations with world leaders since early November.
Even Russian official state propaganda announced a call between Trump and Putin in mid-November, so one can reasonably conclude that there were not multiple lines of communication between the Transition Team and the Kremlin soon after the election.
On the eve of Trump's inauguration, six federal agencies - including the FBI and CIA - announced with anonymity to the New York Times that they were listening to intercepted communications.
They named three obvious Trump regime players with Russian ties in a media leak intended to protect their investigation from being ordered closed by one of its targets.
The New York Times report from those agencies revealed the outlines of their plainly massive investigation but is a safe assumption as any that the real targets - in this case, potentially Ret. Gen. Flynn, who is the single person most responsible for managing Trump's Russia relationship identified by the media to date - would not be publicly fingered.
In fact, one might infer that Flynn may have been intentionally omitted or comments made in the opposit, for the sake of making he or others being closely watched by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to feel even more secure to act.
It is important to note too, that Trump himself is not legally immune in any way for any of his acts before assuming the office of President, nor is he exempt from criminal law violations if he commits a crime while in office.
Trump's transition team very publicly end-ran official channels to hold their direct, high-level foreign diplomatic discussions.
A federal law called the Logan Act prohibits private citizens from conducting foreign affairs, a category of people which includes the legally meaningless title of President-elect.
There was nothing legally stopping the FBI claiming probable cause, and obtaining a warrant from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in secret, and then listening to those phone calls between foreign leaders - many in countries where Donald Trump holds conflicting business interests - the man who would lead America against all enemies foreign and domestic, with a man who spent two months obsessively sending love tweets to V. Putin before being sworn in as President.
The revelations of Putin's retaliation against his inner circle are a key sign in the ongoing war of spies between Russia and the United States, which might indirectly validate the contents of the "Golden Showers" dossier, and could give further clues to the true nature and depth of Donald Trump's extensive ties to the Russian regime.
Author's note: Here is a chronology of events.