Instead of using the vetted, thoroughly researched list, this unknown political superior simply wrote down the top of the Russian presidential administration and government plus the 96 Russian billionaires on the Forbes list.

This act has numerous implications. First, by this action, this senior official ridiculed the government experts who had prepared another report. Any serious Russian who reads the published list can only conclude that U.S. intelligence is as dumb as it gets.

Second, this was supposed to be a list naming and shaming specific, odious and corrupt figures around the Kremlin. By mentioning more than 200 people, the U.S. government achieved the opposite effect—namely mocking the seemingly semi-literate readers of the Kremlin phone book and the Forbes rich list. The list includes several Kremlin critics.

Third, the clear intention of section 241, and the reason why it had attracted so much attention, was the intention to split the Russian elite and offer prominent Russians the option to live safely in the West. Many businessmen on the Forbes list are citizens of countries other than Russia and have long live abroad. By including all the wealthiest Russians, the U.S. government has instead made a major push to solidify the Russian elite behind Putin.

By signing this list, the secretary of the Treasury has caused a great deal of damage. Who will ever believe any intelligence coming from the Treasury in the future? He has mocked the U.S. sanctions on Russia and rendered CAATSA ineffective. Since the Treasury Department has issued this list, Secretary Steve Mnuchin is ultimately responsible. Why has he done something that can only benefit Putin?