As I understand it, the Helsinki meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin resulted in an offer that seeks to question former Ambassador Michael McFaul in Russia. If this were to happen, how \ under what guise would the current administration compel McFaul to go to Russia for questioning?

I realize that this is a highly charged topic and would ask that responses be confined to answering the question. No inference should be drawn as to whether I would support or be against questioning. Please keep responses on target by focusing on the question above.

  • I'd change "under what guise would the current administration" to "under what guise could the current administration" because that's the answer you've got, and frankly the only one you're likely to get unless Trump decides to post here. – Fizz Jul 20 '18 at 7:16

If this were to happen, how \ under what guise would the current administration compel McFaul to go to Russia for questioning?

There is no evidence that they would.

Vladimir Putin of Russia said that if his people were allowed to question Michael McFaul and possibly others, he would make the twelve newly indicted individuals available for questioning in Russia. The Russian constitution specifically bars extradition of Russian citizens. Presumably they would question the Americans in the United States.

They would only have to compel McFaul to undergo questioning. That could be done by a US court. The Russians might have to present some kind of evidence that McFaul knew something about some criminal activity, but the activity would not necessarily have to be criminal in the US.

  • In fact, while the mutual legal assistance treaty between the US and Russia allows a court to compel testimony, it leaves it up to the prospective witness whether or not they want to go to the other country to testify. The natural conclusion is that testimony is by default given at home and the transcript sent overseas. – cpast Jul 20 '18 at 16:01
  • This is because the U.S. doesn't sign Extradition Treaties without Dual Criminality (which means that it must be a crime in the US to extradite to a foreign country). Russia having no extradition as constitutional policy means the United States would never sign one with them. – hszmv Jul 20 '18 at 16:04
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    @hszmv Russia only bans extradition of its citizens. The US routinely signs extradition agreements with countries that refuse to extradite their citizens; it just puts a clause in the treaty to say that both sides get to refuse to extradite their citizens. – cpast Jul 20 '18 at 16:12

, how \ under what guise would the current administration compel McFaul to go to Russia for questioning?

The only way they could do so legally is via the courts. As Russia has an unfortunate habit of murdering people[1], I doubt that any extradition would be approved even if evidence of criminality would be supplied, never mind the farce that is the current situation.

[1] A couple of links to get you started: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Boris_Nemtsov


You have to dive a little bit deeper to understand Russia's motives. In reality they couldn't care less about questioning McFaul and they've merely used him to advance their interests:

  • If the US says they won't allow the questioning, Putin can always blame Trump for refusing to cooperate. They would also have a good excuse for not allowing the questioning of Russian hackers, which is easy to use for internal propaganda to show how the government is protecting their citizens.

  • If the US does allow McFaul to be questioned, it would be humiliating for Trump as Putin would be seen as dictating his terms to him. And letting the FBI question a few Russian hackers is unlikely to result in anything negative for Russia.

Where and how the questioning would take place is there a moot point. Neither side expects to gain anything of value from the responses given during the query, so the exact details of how it would take place are mostly irrelevant.

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