Every couple of weeks speculation surfaces that Vladimir Putin has the goods on Donald Trump and is somehow blackmailing him. The same speculators go on to wonder what it is that Putin has.
It is not women. Trump may well have slept with women in Russia while married, but no one really cares. His supporters accept that he is a philanderer. After all, here is a guy who boasted about the size of his penis in a presidential debate. Of course he is going to use it any chance he gets.
Steve Bannon was right. What Putin has over Trump is money laundering. Specifically, Russian money. It will probably come out that either Trump’s business or his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business depended on laundered Russia money, breaking all sorts of laws.
Unfortunately for Putin, using this blackmail evidence carries some costs. He can’t just say that Trump was money laundering. He has to do it indirectly, which will probably mean sacrificing one of his oligarch allies and charging them with Russian crimes that would then highlight the money trail and expose Trump’s laundering.
In addition Putin’s leverage may decline over time. Special counsel Robert Mueller will likely put it all together on his own and charge Trump’s and/or Kushner’s organizations with money laundering. Of course, Putin retains some leverage in that he could still be able to supply some details that make Mueller’s case airtight.
Any way you look at it, in all probability Trump’s son or his son-in-law is going to need a presidential pardon.