From Russia With Love: A Breakdown Of How Putin Helped Put Trump In The White House
The mood was joyous in the Kremlin as Vladimir Putin, along with Russian officials, celebrated the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States.
Putin called President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his victory and later stated that Russia expects to have improved relations with the United States.
So, why is one of our foreign adversaries so happy about a President Trump?
“It turns out that the United Russia has won the elections in the United States!” — Russian Governor, Viktor Nazarov
The biggest story of this election season, by far, was Russia’s attempts to influence the outcome of the U.S. election. And as of November 8th, we saw that they were successful.
The hacks on the DNC and subsequent release of documents by Wikileaks, was part of an organized effort by the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election. In a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security, the accusations were outlined as follows:
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.
NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers told the Wall Street Journal that “a nation-state” used Wikileaks to influence the U.S. election.
The hacks, which were directed at Democratic organizations, targeted emails and documents belonging to Hillary Clinton and her staff. The release of this information, by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, flooded our news cycle and politically damaged Clinton throughout the course of her campaign.
And it appears that it was more than just hacking. Two teams of independent researchers found that the recent surge in the spread of fake news was part of a coordinated Russian propaganda campaign. This effort involved bots and paid human online “trolls” that helped spread, and create, fake articles and right-wing news stories that bashed Clinton and boosted Trump. This spread of disinformation was amplified by social media, The Washington Post reported:
PropOrNot’s monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.
Why was it so one-sided? Why not use the hacks or propaganda campaign to also damage the RNC or Trump’s campaign? Trump’s pro-Russian inclinations might serve as an explanation.
During his campaign, Trump stated that if he were to be elected President, he would consider lifting sanctions against Russia and recognize their controversial annexation of Crimea. Trump has also been very complimentary of Putin, calling him a strong leader and said he would would be willing to work with Russia and Assad in Syria, despite their continuous humanitarian violations in Aleppo and elsewhere.
Trump’s pro-Russian assertions have startled many, and some question his reasoning as these policies would be a stark u-turn in U.S. foreign policy. Some point to Trump and his campaign surrogates’ numerous business ties in Russia as potential catalysts to his very pro-Russian stances.
Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager before being fired after reports of his Ukraine ties, is currently under investigation by the FBI for his foreign ties. Manafort reportedly received millions in cash while representing a pro-Russian politician in the Ukraine.
Trump has denied that he has a relationship with Vladimir Putin, despite having touted his relationship with Putin on many occasions in the past. Trump has even stated he got to know Putin very well.
When asked, by MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in 2013, if he had a relationship with Putin, Trump’s response was, “I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today. He’s probably very interested in what you and I am saying today, and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form.”
In 2014 he said, “I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”
There have been many accusations, including from Harry Reid, that Trump’s campaign was in collusion with Russia. This was fiercely denied by the Trump campaign.
During the second Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump cast doubt that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and even went as far as to say, “Maybe there is no hacking.” This statement was widely criticized. Not only was the hacking confirmed and intelligence officials were confident Russia was behind it, Trump had been briefed on these details.
“A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August,” NBC’s Robert Windrem and William Arkin reported. They quote the unnamed official: “To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation.”
To put the icing on the cake, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko confirmed that there had been contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign throughout the election. Ryabko had the following exchange with Interfax News Agency:
“There were contacts,” Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying. “We are doing this and have been doing this during the election campaign.”
Such contacts would continue, he added, saying the Russian government knew and had been in touch with many of Trump’s closest allies. He did not name names.
“Obviously, we know most of the people from his (Trump’s) entourage. Those people have always been in the limelight in the United States and have occupied high-ranking positions,” he said.
“I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.”
Whether or not Trump colluded with Russia is yet to be confirmed, but as it stands, President-elect Trump has been widely perceived as a victory within the nation of Russia. Whether or not Trump’s presidency will be a victory for the American people remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: We must keep a watchful eye on his policies when it comes to Russia.
Update: The CIA has concluded that Russia did indeed interfere with the election in an effort to get Trump elected.
President Barack Obama has ordered American intelligence agencies to produce a full report on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.