Russian Intelligence Worked to Elect Trump. Why?

by kmoorh –

putin trump

Friday’s Washington Post revealed that two separate investigative teams of researchers have found evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. Presidential campaign. Moscow mounted an intense online propaganda effort using a network of websites and social media accounts to push fake news into the center of the campaign.

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. 

The Russian propaganda machine was able to overwhelm traditional news sources with their manufactured “fake news”.

The Daily Beast debunked a particularly widely read piece in an article that reached 1,700 Facebook accounts and was read online more than 30,000 times. But the PropOrNot researchers found that the version supported by Russian propaganda reached 90,000 Facebook accounts and was read more than 8 million times. The researchers said the true Daily Beast story was like “shouting into a hurricane” of false stories supported by the Russians.

The Russians were especially active in the final weeks of the campaign, pushing stories about a rigged election to help Clinton.

“The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy,” said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers. “It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign. . . . It worked.”

Trump was right, someone did want to rig our election. But it wasn’t the Democrats. It was Putin.

But why?

Franklin Foer, writing in Slate in the summer spelled it out. If you have not read Putin’s Puppet, his account of why Putin would support Trump, along with a string of European fascists — you should. 

If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to serve his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump. The Republican nominee wants to shatter our military alliances in Europe; he cheers the destruction of the European Union; he favors ratcheting down tensions with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, both as a matter of foreign policy and in service of his own pecuniary interests. A Trump presidency would weaken Putin’s greatest geo-strategic competitor. By stoking racial hatred, Trump will shred the fabric of American society. He advertises his willingness to dismantle constitutional limits on executive power. In his desire to renegotiate debt payments, he would ruin the full faith and credit of the United States. One pro-Kremlin blogger summed up his government’s interest in this election with clarifying bluntness: “Trump will smash America as we know it, we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post also wrote last summer about Trump’s odd affinity for Putin, and the many links between his campaign and Russia along with the circumstantial case that one could build to connect the DNC hacking by Russian intelligence to the Trump campaign.

Russian intelligence hacked the Democratic National Committee and, experts say, handed the emails to WikiLeaks for release on the eve of the Democratic convention. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared: “I think that they ought to be prepared for more excitement in the email world this week.”

How would he know?

A week before the election The Guardian wrote that Trump’s long-time advisor and confident, Roger Stone, had been the conduit — using further intermediaries — between the campaign and Julian Assange at Wikileaks. Which explained why Stone had advance notice of the John Podesta email dump, a hack also done by the Russians.

In August, well before WikiLeaks released Podesta’s emails, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

Remember that all the material released by Wikileaks came from Russian intelligence. The Podesta hack heavily damaged Clinton’s campaign when the mainstream press obsessed day after day about what was nothing more than the normal infighting of a major political campaign. Something Bernie Sanders himself said about the Podesta emails, and he was the object of many of the stories created out of the Podesta hack. 

“Trust me, if they went into our emails — I suppose which may happen, who knows — I’m sure there would be statements that would be less than flattering about, you know, the Clinton staff,” Sanders said. “That’s what happens in campaigns.”

Other important stories about Trump and Russia you might have missed:

The New York Times established that Julian Assange timed the release of the Democratic emails (stolen by Russians) to do maximum injury to Hillary Clinton.

Six weeks before the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks published an archive of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the Democratic convention, the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, foreshadowed the release — and made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. 

Trump’s claim to have no ties to Russia was debunked by the Washington Post.

Trump himself came damn near to uttering treason himself when it came to Russia.

Some even said Trump’s remarks were treason.

The Republicans – thanks to Trump – changed their platform to make it more Russia friendly when it comes to the Ukrainian war.

Trump has been very complimentary of Vladimir Putin, saying the Russian autocrat is a “strong leader” and adding that he and Putin could have “a very good relationship”.

Donald Trump Jr., was meeting with pro-Putin Syrians in October to discuss ways to cooperate with Russia in Syria. 

After the election, Russian diplomats revealed they had regular contacts during the campaign with people in Trump’s inner circle. 

What has Putin gotten out of it so far, apart from destabilizing our democracy?

The Republican Party under Trump has now thrown in their lot with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Trump called NATO obsolete and said during the campaign that he may not abide by NATO Treaty obligations should Russia invade the Baltics. Putin —  an unrepentant communist turned fascist —  wants to reclaim the land of the former Soviet Union and has already grabbed the Crimea from Ukraine. Fears that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could be next are not far-fetched.

In fact this just a few days ago Russia moved sophisticated cruise missile batteries into Kaliningrad, between Lithuania & Poland. Weapons that can target Eastern Europe and the Baltic. Perhaps it’s to counter NATO which is building up its forces in Eastern Europe and will send a small deployment of British troops in Estonia in the spring of next year. But maybe its more than that. Russia has also moved sophisticated anti-aircraft defenses into Kaliningrad and has stationed warships with long-range cruise missiles into the region. 

 

To wrap it up:

Putin used his intelligence service to openly support Trump and the Republican Party in our election. The FBI then decides to conduct further PUBLIC investigations of Clinton, instead of looking into the Russian spying for Trump. Trump wins a narrow electoral college victory, despite a substantial loss in the popular vote. Trump is now our President-elect. And the Republican Party, once an enemy of Russian expansion in Eastern Europe, is now in bed with Vladimir Putin.

Eric Chenoweth, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, gets it. You should read his op-ed in today’s Washington Post: 

In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.

. . . Putin is pursuing large strategic goals: recognition of the annexation of Crimea and international acceptance of foreign aggression to change state borders; Russian control of Ukraine; weakening or even dissolution of the European Union and NATO; restoration of Russia as a great power; and restored dominance over the former Soviet bloc and its environs. In pursuing these aims, Putin is engaged in a disciplined effort to influence democratic politics in the West, including financial and propaganda support for the narrow Brexit victory and for a network of far-right (and pro-Russian) nationalist political parties and groups throughout Europe. Now he has achieved what had to have been his most improbable goal: helping elect a sympathetic U.S. president who wants to form an alliance against terrorism. What will Trump give in exchange? 

Yes, what does Donald Trump owe Vladimir Putin? And where is the outrage?

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos