Yesterday, Trump’s Treasury Department unveiled its official list of Russian oligarchs, a move ostensibly aimed at making the lives of a smattering of gangsters, corrupt officials, and criminal billionaires harder by exposing them so that, in turn, financial institutions and governments will be less likely to do business with them in the future.
However, the list was interpreted by many as simply a transparent attempt to smooth over the fact that Trump has announced he will not be imposing new sanctions on Russia despite Congress voting overwhelmingly in favor of them.
The Treasury Department just released the unclassified oligarch list. Here's a thread of all the names of senior Russian officials and "oligarchs" that appear on it: pic.twitter.com/8MHao9Zi2h
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 30, 2018
Now, Buzzfeed News reports that the Treasury list was lifted from Forbes magazine’s 2017 ranking the “200 Richest businessmen in Russia 2017.” A Treasury Department spokesman confirmed the story with Buzzfeed.
The borderline plagiaristic revelation casts further doubts on whether or not the Trump administration is taking the issue seriously enough and is seen as part of a larger trend of failing to take adequate actions against Russia despite their meddling in our 2016 election. It smacks of abject laziness, that a country with a vast intelligence network would instead use a magazine to compile such an important list as this one.
“The names of and net worth of oligarchs in the unclassified version of the report were selected based on objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity,” the Treasury spox told Buzzfeed.
It’s unclear what other “publicly available sources” the spokesperson was referring to, but it seems safe to presume they were just as, if not more, absurd as using a business magazine. There is an additional humorous irony to the story, in that Trump’s pornstar mistress Stormy Daniels says that Trump used to have her spank him with a copy of Forbes.
Writes John Hudson of Buzzfeed:
“The revelation is likely to invite criticisms of the thoroughness of the Treasury Department’s report and reinforce the notion that the list is primarily a who’s who of Russian elite rather than an official accounting of Kremlin-linked political corruption as some US lawmakers intended.”
In other words, if the Treasury Department had been even slightly more rigorous in their approach to compiling the list it could have been an easy win for an administration struggling to combat suspicions that it’s deeply entwined and in the pocket of Russia. Once again, Trump’s team has revealed itself to be deeply incompetent and negligent.