Russian Meddling in Election
The United States government announced in October 2016 that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic party operations. Hacked emails had been released publicly, some of which contained embarrassing information about the Democratic Party and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party's presidential nominee.
Initially, U.S. intelligence agencies did not suggest the Russian hack was intended to help Trump win the election. In December 2016, however, the Central Intelligence Agency told a group of U.S. Senators that Russia had intended to help Trump win the presidency. Continued investigation revealed email accounts of some Republican congressmen, GOP non-profits, and other party organizations had been hacked, but that information had not been released.
The Washington Post quoted a senior U.S. official as saying, “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected." Read the Washington Post article.
2018.02.08 The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election. nbcnews.com (See also 2016 Election, Department of Homeland Security) 2018.02.13 Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said, warning that Moscow is using a digital strategy to worsen the country’s political and social divisions. nytimes.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Election) 2018.02.15 Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. cnn.com (See also Corruption, Legal Issues) 2018.02.16 The special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations with illegally trying to disrupt the American political process, including efforts designed to boost the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and hurt that of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Campaign, 2016 Election, Legal Activity) 2018.02.18 Another former member of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign reportedly will plead guilty to charges resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. splinternews.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Legal Activity, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2018.02.22 The head of a federal commission who has helped U.S. states protect election systems from possible cyber attacks by Russia or others is being replaced at the behest of Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House. reuters.com (See also Voter Fraud, Cybersecurity) 2018.02.23 Soon after the Republican National Committee came under pressure for paying legal bills for Donald Trump and his eldest son in the special counsel's Russia probe, it started covering expenses for the president's re-election campaign. cnbc.com (See also Conflicts of Interest) 2018.02.23 Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed new charges against former Donald Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates describing a "scheme" in which the two longtime business partners allegedly laundered $30 million, failed to pay taxes for almost 10 years and used real estate they owned to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in loans. cnn.com (See also Legal Activity, 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2018.02.24 Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort was hit with new charges on Friday, including an allegation he secretly recruited and funded a group of former European politicians to lobby in the United States on behalf of Ukraine. nbcnews.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Legal Issues) 2018.02.27 The U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election — but never told the states involved. nbcnews.com (See also 2016 Election) 2018.02.27 US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not been granted the authority by Donald Trump to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate. cnn.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia) 2018.02.28 Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said that she was resigning. nytimes.com (See also Resignations and Dismissals) 2018.03.05 As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy. nytimes.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Rex Tillerson, Department of State) 2018.03.05 Russia advised Donald Trump to pick someone other than Mitt Romney for Secretary of State, who would ease sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. newyorker.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Rex Tillerson, Department of State, Corruption) 2018.03.05 The grand jury investigating alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign has sent a witness a subpoena seeking all documents involving the president and a host of his closest advisers, including emails, text messages, work papers, telephone logs and other documents going back to Nov. 1, 2015, 4½ months after Trump launched his campaign. nbcnews.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Steve Bannon, Legal Issues) 2018.03.08 The special counsel in the Russia investigation has learned of two conversations in recent months in which Donald Trump asked key witnesses about matters they discussed with investigators. nytimes.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Reince Priebus, Legal Issues, Don McGahn) 2018.03.12 Over two-thirds of U.S. House of Representatives Democrats urged Donald Trump to enact sanctions on Russia, the latest push by lawmakers for a response to investigators’ findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. reuters.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Election) 2018.03.12 Qatari officials gathered evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates, including details of secret meetings, but decided not to give the information to special counsel Robert Mueller for fear of harming relations with the Trump administration nbcnews.com (See also Jared Kushner, Trump Relationship with Russia, Foreign Policy, Conflicts of Interest) 2018.03.17 Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, said that he hopes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference. thedailybeast.com (See also Legal Issues, 201, 2016 Election) 2018.03.19 DonaldTrump hired the longtime Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova on Monday, adding an aggressive voice to his legal team who has pushed the theory on television that the F.B.I. and Justice Department framed Mr. Trump. nytimes.com (See also Belief in Conspiracy Theories, Legal Issues, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2018.03.22 Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, and who communicated with (and was defended by) longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU). thedailybeast.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, Legal Activity) 2018.03.28 A lawyer for Donald Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year. nytimes.com (See also Legal Issues, Michael Flynn) 2018.03.28 A top Trump campaign official had repeated communications during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential race with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a document released on Tuesday by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election. nytimes.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, Legal Issues, 2016 Election) 2018.04.03 Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was "colluding with Russian government officials" to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. cnn.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Legal Activity, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2018.04.20 The Democratic National Committee opened a surprise legal assault on Donald Trump, filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the organization was the victim of a conspiracy by Russian officials, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. nytimes.com (See also Legal Activity, 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia)
After leaked emails from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were printed in the mainstream U.S. media and elsewhere, Trump invited Russian hackers to continue searching for deleted email. This is an unprecedented invitation for a foreign government to interfere in the United States political process. After 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that the Russian government had sponsored hacking, Trump called the conclusion "ridiculous," an unusual repudiation of reports from intelligence agencies. He also falsely claimed that the Obama administration brought up the concern about foreign meddling in a U.S. election after Clinton's loss. He softened his tone somewhat after Republican leaders pressed for an official inquiry.
From his invitation to Russian hackers to search for Clinton's emails to his rejection of intelligence from multiple agencies and false claim that the concern was raised only after he won the election, Trump has demonstrated disregard for political norms and factual accuracy. He has sided with a foreign government over the conclusions of multiple intelligence agencies in the United States and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Russia has admitted being in touch with Trump's allies during the campaign, making its intent clear despite Trump's denials.
From The New York Times
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, said at a postelection conference. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
Trump's relationship with Vladimir Putin following the state-sanctioned cyberattack is "baffling to anyone with a functioning brainstem," according to Van Jones. Source: CNN.
From The New Yorker: The Russian economy has been crippled by 2013 sanctions, giving Putin a reason to engage in a propaganda campaign against the United States and deny the presidency to Hillary Clinton.
From The Weeklings, Greg Olear: DAH, DONALD: RUSSIAN BLOOD MONEY AND THE FBI’S CASE AGAINST TRUMP (2017.01.24)
THIS IS AN ATTEMPT to assemble the pieces in the Trump/Russia jigsaw puzzle, to reveal the Big Picture.
My conclusions were heavily influenced by Louise Mensch‘s eye-opening January 17 essay, “Dear Mr. Putin, Let’s Play Chess.” Other sources include Seth Abramson’s “The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump the Election is in Plain Sight,” which ran on the Huffington Post on the same day, and “A Brief History of the First Russo-American Cyber War,” by War Is Boring’s Bryan E. Frydenborg. The Steele dossier, the “Golden Shower” series of intelligence reports written by Christopher Steele in 2016 and subsequently released by Buzzfeed, was also a useful resource. I have exhaustively fact-checked assertions, linking to a wide range of news sources from across the political spectrum, from the Washington Post to Reuters to Breitbart.
The dramatis personae—the pile of puzzle pieces, if you will—is generally well known to most observers: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, Trump attorney Michael Cohen, “ratfucker” Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Russian moles in the NSA and the FBI’s New York field office, and an obscure Russian hacker named Yvegeny Nikulin.
This is how the pieces fit together. This is how they connect. This is what it means.
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In short, it’s about the money. Which makes sense, given Trump’s disgustingly obvious greed. The Russian oligarchs are laundering money all over creation, and Trump, with his opaque taxes and billion-dollar losses and cash business concerns, is somehow complicit in the scheme. Campaign finance, one imagines, is just the tip of the iceberg.
If he’s shown to be in debt to the Russians and the Chinese, Trump can explain that away. Fake news, he will say. So what. I won, people don’t care. Same with the Russian prostitutes. You can’t shame a man incapable of feeling shame. What is Trump afraid of? Prison. That would be the ultimate downfall for Donald Trump. The loss of his position, his social standing, his fortune, his golden throne, his access to beautiful women willing and otherwise. His Twitter account.
There is no “alternative fact” that can spin the very real possibility that Donald J. Trump will die in federal prison, alone.