Trump/Putin in 2020

 

Fox News is continuing to provide enormous spin for Donald Trump. Earlier this week they twisted the news that Trump was angry an intelligence official briefed Congress on Russia attacking the 2020 election to help get him re-elected, by claiming “Trump Upset Over Kremlin Trying to Re-Elect Him.”

The irony, of course, is our intelligence agencies brought the information to leaders in our government. House Republicans were furious upon hearing the news – furious that they were being told the truth, and wanted to stomp it out. So Rep. Devin Nunes told Trump, who then fired his Director of National Intelligence.

Predictably the Kremlin is laughing off claims they are once again interfering in the 2020 election, saying the very notion is “paranoid.”  “The Kremlin said on Friday that allegations from U.S. intelligence officials that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign and trying to boost Donald Trump’s re-election chances are false and the result of paranoia, ” before adding Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the (U.S.) election.”

However, in a report for the Daily Beast, Russian media expert Julia Davis explains that, despite Donald Trump’s disavowals, his presidency has been highly beneficial to the Kremlin, they could not be happier and the state-run press has no qualms about boasting about it.

With reports coming out that the Russians are once again interfering in the presidential race, and Trump’s fury that intelligence community has been briefing Democrats about it, Davis claimed that you don’t need an intel briefing to know who they support in 2020 — and why.

Writing that Russian state media has “consistently conveyed the message that Trump’s election has proven exceedingly beneficial for the Kremlin, Davis writes, “Indeed, Trump’s presidency is so valuable for President Vladimir Putin that even ‘tough’ sanctions are minor by comparison. The Chekist( the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations). in the Kremlin is willing to make temporary sacrifices in order to keep such a disruptive figure in charge of the mightiest country in the world, and Russian state media repeatedly make the point that Russia’s gamble will continue to pay off since the Kremlin is holding, as it were, the trump card.”

“Russian experts and pundits on state television frequently express their desire to see Donald Trump re-elected,” she continued. “Appearing on Russia’s popular state television news talk show 60 Minutes last October, political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak gushed: ‘I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health—and another term.’ This is a great situation for Russia… may he flourish and get re-elected…Trump is a great candidate. I applaud him… For America, this isn’t a very good president.’”

According to her report, Russian officials fully expect to cash in on another four years of Trump, “… from the removal of sanctions imposed after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula and backed a separatist war in Ukraine, to restoration of access to diplomatic compounds the U.S. seized after Russia’s effort to murder a defector in Britain.”

“Normally, spymasters seek to shroud in secrecy their relations with those who wittingly or unwittingly serve their interests,” she wrote. “But Russian state media openly gloat about the Kremlin’s influence over Trump, believing that he can endure the exposure without repercussions, and by flaunting the Kremlin’s sway with the White House, Russia further weakens U.S. democracy, which has always been one of its main pursuits.”

“The Kremlin wants to be perceived as a force to be reckoned with, fostering an atmosphere devoid of accountability for Russia’s human rights violations, foreign invasions, land grabs, and assassinations. In the style of ‘fake it till you make it,’ Putin is determined to persuade the world that resistance is futile and the Kremlin is omnipotent,” she warned. “Every denial of Russian election interference coming out of the White House brings Putin one step closer to the fulfillment of his goals. Every election security bill that is blocked by the GOP in the Senate gives an advantage to our foreign adversaries—and they are not sick of winning.”

Raw Story

Sabotaging any hope of justice

Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell reportedly is close to finalizing a rule that would allow Trump’s clown-car legal team to move to dismiss the articles of impeachment in the Senate quickly after some evidence has been presented, as a sort of safety valve in case the trial starts going bad.

The discussions came as Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that the trial could extend “to six to eight weeks or even longer” if the Senate decided to hear from additional witnesses.

McConnell, R-Ky., wouldn’t be obligated to publicize the final version of his resolution setting the parameters of the impeachment trial until Tuesday, but top Republicans have said they supported affording Trump the opportunity to cut the trial short.

Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, for example, said he would be “very, very surprised” if McConnell’s resolution didn’t include that kind of kill switch.

“I am familiar with the resolution as it stood a day or two ago,” Hawley told Axios. “My understanding is that the resolution will give Trump’s clown-car legal team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss……..”

Trump, Hawley wrote on Twitter after Axios’ article was published, “deserves the right during Senate trial to ask for a verdict or move to dismiss – otherwise trial will become endless circus run by Adam Schiff.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have voiced frustration that McConnell was holding the final rules for the trial secret.

“The House managers have absolutely no idea what the structure of the trial two days before the trial begins,”

For his part, Trump suggested earlier this month that an “outright dismissal” might be appropriate.

This whole strategy may end up being moot because whacky Law professor Alan Dershowitz, is set to present an argument against impeachment during the Senate trial, said Sunday it will be clear there will be “no need” for witnesses if his presentation were to succeed. “Criminal-like conduct,” Dershowtiz said, was required for impeachment.

Anything to avoid a fair trial, right?

from Fox News and The Associated Press

We don’t trust John “chickenhawk” Bolton

 

Why would anybody trust “chickenhawk” John Bolton to tell the truth about his buddy Donald Trump? These belligerent bullies are cut from the same cloth. Bolton’s not going to turn on Trump unless it makes him some serious money.

Even rightwing republican apologist Joe Scarborough doesn’t trust John Bolton’s intentions when it comes to testifying before Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The “Morning Joe” host said he believes the former national security adviser has cut a behind-the-scenes deal with the White House on his offer to testify.

“Forgive me for being cynical, but I think John Bolton wants to sell his book,” Scarborough said. (no shit!) “These people who were saying, you know what? We’ll give you Bolton. You give us, fill in the blank. I mean, whoever else is called, if the Republicans call (anyone), will not talk about executive privilege, but I guarantee you John Bolton will.”

“You talk about drug deals,” he said. “I think there’s a smaller drug deal going on between Bolton and the White House right now, where there’s a nod and a wink. Yes, I’m going to say that I’ll testify, knowing perfectly well the second he gets there to testify the White House will claim executive privilege, and he’ll say, you know what? I came here to testify, but this really does fit under executive privilege, and I’m not going to weaken the presidency and so then Republicans call who they want to call. I think the fix is already in here.”

We think Scarborough is right, this is Bolton injecting meth into his book sales. He’s teasing testimony knowing he’ll never give it so people will be forced to by his book.

John Bolton who always wants to send people to their deaths fighting in some war he’s provoked is a POS and always will be.

The Media is enabling the Trump cultists with their war propaganda

Last Thursday evening, Trump ordered the assassination of the commander of Iran’s Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Solemani. Following the attack, many Fox false news figures heaped absolute praise on Trump’s decision to commit an act of war.

The war fervor escalated further on Friday when Fox host and Trump adviser Sean Hannity fantasized about a further strike inside Iran which would (somehow) prompt Iranians to overthrow their government. (same crap he said about Iraq) Hannity also told Trump to disregard rules of engagement and to “bomb the living hell” out of Iran. A day later, Trump threatened to do exactly that.

Mainstream outlets run with Trump propaganda statements on Iran which are later seriously undermined.

Later Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds, but the hosts of the five major Sunday news shows fell short in questioning and pushing Pompeo in two major ways.

As Pompeo seemingly pivoted away from the claim that Soleimani presented an imminent threat to the U.S. following reports that the administration greatly exaggerated intelligence, the hosts failed to press him on the exact nature of intelligence the administration claimed to have.

Pompeo was also not challenged when he consistently blamed the Obama administration and specifically the Iran nuclear deal (also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) for actions that Iran has taken since Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement.

Again major mainstream news outlets continued to unquestionably repeat the Trump administration’s purported justification for the attack in their headlines. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter an overarching justification for the strike, saying it warded off “imminent threats to American lives.” (no proof has been offered)

CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, Axios, ABC News, and The Hill all put Pompeo’s claim into a headline. Multiple pundits on all cable news channels said that they had no reason to doubt the administration’s claims. (WTF!)

And yet, less than a day later, that bogus claim collapsed. New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi found that the justification was “razor-thin.” According to emerging reporting, the Iraqi Prime Minister has said that Soleimani was on a diplomatic mission to meet with him regarding a Saudi attempt to de-escalate tensions in the region.

The facts are still not settled, but that’s even more reason to not take seriously the word of the Trump administration and Pompeo, who are known liars.

Recent revelations that government officials lied about the Afghanistan War underscore that the media should be aggressively skeptical about war against Iran.

Don’t forget what Trump and Fox said about Obama and Iran: Trump repeatedly spoke with Fox personalities at the time about how Obama would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected. He made similar claims in a video he posted to his website. In response to Trump, Sean Hannity said that would be “the single most chilling abuse of power in American history.”

Meet the Press doesn’t disclose guest talking about Iran is Lockheed Martin board member

Jeh Johnson, who was secretary of homeland security under President Barack Obama, appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss President Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Neither Johnson nor host Chuck Todd disclosed that Johnson is a board member of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which reportedly paid him over $300,000 in 2018 alone.

Right-wing media already accusing Democrats who question Trump of being aligned with Iran

On Friday, several Fox personalities accused Democrats critical of the decision the kill Solemani of being aligned with Iran. On Fox and Friends the morning after the attack, retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata expressed offense that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) had called America’s targeted killing of Soleimani an “assassination,” accused Murphy of “jumping on the side of Iran,” and complained that “Democrats will support, you know, Hamas, or Hezbollah, or Iran” over American and Donald Trump. Trump himself retweeted a claim from far-right pundit Dinesh D’Souza comparing Sen. minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to Iranians.

 

edited from Media Matters

A preview of things to come as Trump and his cult fail

Armed right-wing militias are organizing a dangerous rally in Richmond, Virginia, an extremism researcher warned on Friday.

Emily Gorcenski was pepper-sprayed by Christopher Cantwell — known as the “Crying Nazi” — at the fatal 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since then, she’s used her internet research skills to identify far-right extremism.

“I’m not letting up on the Matt Shea domestic terror situation, because it is directly relevant to something about to happen in Virginia, next month, on January 20,” Gorcenski posted on Twitter.

Shea, a Republican state representative in Washington, was exposed for supporting domestic terrorism in a report compiled by the legislature.

“Many of the same militant organizations are planning an armed gathering in Richmond, VA to protest, with the threat of civil war, proposed gun control bills in the Virginia Legislature,” she explained. “Many of these groups are chapters of the same nationwide patriot militia movement: the Three Percenters, the Oathkeepers, and others. Several of these groups who plan to attend were also part of the armed contingent that attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville in 2017.”

Gorcenski issued the warning despite agreeing with militia organizers on the policy of many of the bills.

“I’m not gonna lie: many of the proposed gun control bills are very, very bad. And I myself would protest them, for many reasons. But the appropriate form of protest is not threatening a civil-war and showing up armed en masse,” she noted.

“These organizations are linked to multiple acts of terrorism and are once again threatening to use lethal force to intimidate an American city and a state government to serve political motivations,” Gorcenski warned. “Many of these militant groups are sharing, manipulating, and amplifying deliberately false rhetoric about what is happening. This is a coordinated reaction to Virginia falling to Democratic control.”

“We cannot talk about fake news and politics without also talking about political violence and hate. They are two sides of the same coin,” she explained. “We can, however, eradicate white supremacist and far-right domestic terror. And we must.”

“Right-wing militias are an existential threat to free society,” Gorcenski warned.

 

raw story

 

Russian TV channel Rossiya 1 gloats about the “Puppet Master and Agent”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned home from his visit with Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week, Russian state media were gloating over the spectacle. TV channel Rossiya 1 aired a segment entitled “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.”

Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of power behind the throne.

And in the meantime, much to Russia’s satisfaction, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is still waiting for that critical White House meeting with the American president: the famous “quid pro quo” for Zelensky announcing an investigation that would smear Democratic challenger Joe Biden. As yet, Zelensky hasn’t done that, and as yet, no meeting has been set.

Russian state television still views the impending impeachment as a bump in the road that won’t lead to Trump’s removal from office. But President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda brigades enjoy watching the heightened divisions in the United States, and how it hurts relations between the U.S. and Ukraine.

They’ve also added a cynical new narrative filled with half-joking ironies as they look at Trump’s bleak prospects when he does leave office.

Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director-general of ITAR-TASS, Russia’s oldest and largest news agency, predicted: “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power. The next term or the term after that, it doesn’t matter… I have an even more unpleasant forecast for Trump. After the White House, he will face a very unhappy period.” The host, Vladimir Soloviev, smugly asked: “Should we get another apartment in Rostov ready?” Soloviev’s allusion was to the situation of Viktor Yanukovych, former president of Ukraine, who was forced to flee to Russia in 2014 and settled in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Such parallels between Yanukovych and Trump are being drawn not only because of their common association with Paul Manafort, adviser to the first, campaign chairman for the second, but also because Russian experts and politicians consider both of them to be openly pro-Kremlin. Tightly controlled Russian state-television programs constantly reiterate that Trump doesn’t care about Ukraine and gave Putin no reasons to even contemplate concessions in the run-up to the recent Normandy Four summit in Paris.

State-television news shows use every opportunity to demoralize the Ukrainians with a set of talking points based on Trump’s distaste for their beleaguered country. The host of Who’s Against on Rossiya-1, Dmitry Kulikov, along with pro-Kremlin guests, took repeated jabs at the Ukrainian panelist, boasting about the meeting between Trump and Lavrov.

“There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia,” argued Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, appearing on the state-television channel Rossiya-24. Korovin insisted that the Democrats in Congress are the main antagonists in the relationship between Russia and the United States.

Dmitry Kiselyov, the host of the Sunday news show Vesti Nedeli, accused the Democrats of joining forces with Hollywood, carrying out various conspiracies in order to undermine Trump’s popularity. Reporting for Vesti Nedeli from Washington, Mikhail Antonov used the term “the Cold War,” a fraught rhetorical twist to describe the clash between Trump and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman noted: “The scariest part of our relationship with America is that the level of trust between our countries, our governments, our political powers, is precisely at zero.”

“But not between the presidents,” chimed in the host.

Rudy Giuliani, acting as the president’s personal attorney and determined to divert attention from Trump’s impeachment to former Vice President Biden’s alleged corruption, recently embarked on an “evidence-gathering” trip to Ukraine. Shortly after Giuliani’s return to the United States, Russian state television started airing video clips of his OAN (One America News Network) “documentary.” It purports to prove Kyiv’s meddling in U.S. elections and accuses former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch of “lying under oath in Congress to whitewash [Joe] Biden’s corruption.” Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of President Trump are bound to pay propaganda dividends for the Kremlin.

Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections and pin the blame on Kyiv. Last month, the Russian president smugly remarked “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

Rossiya-1 reporter Valentin Bogdanov surmised that by now the majority of American Republicans believe that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. elections, with the show airing various clips from Fox News.

The absurdity of such claims spawned by the Russian security services puts the hypocrisy of the Republicans on full display. The Kremlin, having argued for years that democracy is a sham and the West is devoid of morals and principles, can now showcase the GOP as its “Exhibit A.”

Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev in October, political scientist Dmitry Evstafiev argued that Trump has to destroy the Republican Party in order to secure his own long-term survival. The impeachment proceedings seemed to expedite the process, with the GOP’s self-immolation for the sake of its “Dear Leader.”

Prompted by the head-spinning swerve of the Republicans, Tucker Carlson of Fox News even argued that, in the Ukrainian conflict, the U.S. should be taking the side of Russia. Kremlin-controlled Russian state media doesn’t suffer from a similar lack of clarity.

Appearing on Soloviev’s show, Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, exclaimed: “The United States is the enemy. It is our enemy. It is a hostile state that aims to destroy our country… We are at war!”

 

Daily Beast

 

Russia and Ukraine are all one big treasonous scandal

One of the key lines in the House Democrats’ impeachment report distills the Trump-Ukraine scandal to a simple idea: “[T]he impeachment inquiry has found that Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection.”

And in the report’s preface, the Democrats place Trump’s Ukrainian caper within the larger context of foreign intervention in US elections, namely Russia’s covert attack on the 2016 contest, which was mounted in part to help Trump win the White House: “We were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president. Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by Trump who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which Trump welcomed and utilized.”

The point was clear. Trump muscling Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to produce political dirt that could influence the 2020 election for Trump’s personal advantage was a continuation of Trump’s behavior in 2016. This contextualization brings back into the spotlight Vladimir Putin’s clandestine assault on American democracy—and how Trump encouraged and exploited that attack. So now, as Trump is under scrutiny for pressing Ukraine to influence the 2020 race, it’s a good time to review all the ways that Trump aided and abetted a foreign adversary’s scheme to subvert a US election the last time the nation was choosing a president.

Signaled to Moscow that its intervention in the election was desirable: On June 9, three top Trump advisers—Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort—held a secret meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian emissary whom they were informed would provide them dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr., who arranged this get-together, much later claimed that this Russian lawyer, who had ties to the Kremlin and Russian security service, provided them no useful information. But this meeting had more significance than what was actually discussed. During the preparation for this event, Trump Jr. had received an email from the middle-man who set it up saying the meeting came out of an offer from Russia’s top prosecutor and was “part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.” This means Trump’s son was informed that Russia was angling to secretly help Trump—and that Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort were fine with that. And by taking the meeting, Trump Jr. and the others were conveying a message to Russia that the Trump campaign didn’t mind—and would welcome—covert assistance from the Russian government. (Trump has claimed that he was unaware of this meeting. But Michael Cohen testified to Congress that he believed Trump was aware of the meeting before it occurred.)

Denied Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee: On June 14, 2016, the Washington Post reported that the DNC had been attacked and penetrated by Russian government hackers who gained access to “all email and chat traffic.” The Kremlin, naturally, denied this. Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman said, “I completely rule out a possibility that the [Russian] government or the government bodies have been involved in this.” The next day, Trump’s campaign echoed Moscow’s line. It put out a statement declaring, “We believe is was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.” That is, there had been no hack; this was all a hoax. The Trump statement accepted and boosted Moscow’s disinformation and its cover-up. Putin and his covert operators must have been pleased.

Denied Russia was attacking Clinton’s campaign: In July, three days before the start of the Democrats’ presidential convention, WikiLeaks dumped tens of thousands of emails and documents the Russian hackers had stolen from the DNC. This was an attempt to disrupt the Democrats’ gathering. Senior Clinton campaign officials publicly contended that their camp was being targeted by Moscow. Team Trump contended that was hogwash. On CNN, Trump Jr. blasted the Democrats for suggesting Russian involvement: “It just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean they’ll say anything to be able to win this. This is time and time again, lie after lie. It’s disgusting. It’s so phony.” And on the same network Manafort dismissed the Democrats’ claim, saying, “It’s just absurd…it is crazy,” Yet the previous month, they and Kushner had met with the Russian emissary whom they were told was part of a secret Kremlin effort to assist the Trump campaign. Once again, the Trump campaign was reinforcing Putin’s we-didn’t-do-it stance—which, no doubt, was heartening for Moscow.

Encouraged Russia to hack Clinton: The denials of Russia’s involvement from Trump’s top advisers could well have been read by Moscow’s operators as a green light from the Trump campaign. But Trump made it explicit at a press conference on July 27, while the Democratic convention was still underway in Philadelphia. He repeated his campaign’s denial—”Nobody knows who it is”—and then went further: “I will tell you this—Russia if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the thirty thousand [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you’ll probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump was essentially encouraging another government to hack his political rival. He was openly requesting foreign intervention in the US election. And within five hours of Trump’s statement, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, Russian government hackers did try to break into email accounts associated with Clinton and her personal office. This shows the Russians were paying attention to what Trump was saying.

Made secret contact with the Kremlin: Throughout the summer of 2016, the Trump campaign tried to set up a secret connection with Putin’s government. The campaign did this after cybersecurity experts had identified Russia as the culprit in the DNC hacking and after news reports had noted that US intelligence agencies had reached the same conclusion. A little-noticed portion of the statement of offense in Muller’s case against George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, lays this out. (Papadopoulos’ April 2016 conversation with a suspected Russian asset who said Moscow possessed Clinton’s emails later triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation.) The legal filing notes that Papadopoulos “from mid-June through mid-August 2016…pursued an ‘off the record’ meeting between one or more Campaign representatives and ‘members of president Putin’s office’” and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos’ effort, according to the document, was no rogue action; other campaign officials knew about it, and one even encouraged him to travel to Russia to meet with Russian officials to make this contact “if it is feasible.” (Papadopoulos did not take such a trip.) The Trump campaign was attempting to establish a backdoor channel with Putin, even as Putin was attacking the 2016 election. This overture was probably seen by the Kremlin as yet another sign that the Trump campaign accepted—and welcomed—Moscow’s intervention in the US election. (Also, in early August, Manafort met with a former business associate who was a suspected Russian intelligence asset, and Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with him and discussed a pro-Putin peace plan for Ukraine. This, too, could have been seen by Moscow as a signal that the Trump campaign was willing to play ball with Russia, as Russia was trying to subvert the election.)

Embraced Moscow disinformation: In mid-August, Trump, as the Republican nominee, received a briefing from the US intelligence community that included the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia was behind the DNC hack. Nevertheless, in the following weeks, Trump repeatedly denied Russia was the perp. During his first debate with Clinton, Trump declared, “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC… I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke into DNC.” At the second debate—days after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that “the Russian Government directed” the hacks of the DNC and other Democratic targets—Trump, referring to Clinton, exclaimed, “She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.” (He added, “I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there.” Trump neglected to mention that earlier in the year he had tried to develop a massive tower project in Moscow and his company had sought help for the project from Putin’s office.) With these remarks, Trump was parroting Putin’s false claims. Such comments likely emboldened Russia. (Looking to stay in sync with Trump and his comments, Republican congressional leaders, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, avoided joining with the Obama administration to forcefully oppose Putin’s intervention in the election.) And after WikiLeaks in October 2016, as part of the Russian scheme to help Trump, began its daily release of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta by Russian hackers, Trump repeatedly proclaimed he loved WikiLeaks—embracing this foreign intervention in the election.

Again and again, during the 2016 campaign, Trump and his aides denied Russia was intervening in the election, but they also praised this interference and sought to secretly hook up with the foreign adversary that was waging information warfare against the United States. (The recent trial of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone showed that Trump and his advisers sought to use Stone as contact with WikiLeaks.) This part of the Trump-Russia affair has never received the attention it warrants, in part because much of the scandal came to be defined by the question of whether Trump directly colluded with Moscow. But he didn’t have to in order for the Russians to mount the operation that succeeded in helping Trump become president.

All of these actions detailed above—which may not have been criminal—deserved full congressional investigation and could be part of an impeachment case against Trump (as could the report that Trump, once elected, told Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting that he didn’t care about Russia’s attack on the election). But the House Democrats have not followed through on their promise to revive the Trump-Russia investigation. Instead, they relied on Mueller’s report—which was limited—and generally concluded after Mueller’s lackluster appearance on Capitol Hill that the Russia scandal was kaput. They then trained their impeachment sights on the narrow Ukraine caper. Still, Democrats have recently been noting that there is a strong tie between the two scandals—”All roads lead to Putin,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week—and that Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine episode follows his pattern of accepting, welcoming, and requesting foreign intervention during the last presidential election. Trump did escape accountability for what he did in 2016, but the Ukraine scandal shows that he has been on a spree. He was elected because of foreign interference he encouraged. As president, he sought additional intervention from overseas to boost his reelection prospects. It’s a straight line, and his critics are right to wonder what Trump—if (or when) he survives impeachment—might try to pull next to hold on to the presidency.

David Corn Mother Jones

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/12/trumps-sordid-history-of-accepting-requesting-and-encouraging-foreign-interference-in-us-elections/