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A Cold War Case of Russian Collusion

What the Investigation of a 1972 Stasi Operation Can Teach Us About the Mueller Report

Brandt addresses the Bundestag in Bonn, January 1971. Ludwig Wegmann / Bundesarchiv

In a matter of days, the U.S. Department of Justice will release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is tempting to believe that, at long last, Mueller will deliver the definitive account of Russia’s operation. But even after 22 months, 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, and 34 indictments, there is reason to expect that Mueller and his team of attorneys will not have uncovered the full story. When it comes to covert foreign electoral interference, probes are rarely conclusive: key witnesses live abroad, lies pass as truth, and unanswered questions can stay that way for decades, sometimes forever.

For the past two years, much of the U.S. news media has been drawing parallels between the Russia investigation and the Watergate investigation, which produced damning evidence against President Richard Nixon and ultimately led to his resignation. But

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