Putin’s Love For Election Interference

The 2018 Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin. Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Foreign meddling in politics is far from being just a myth. This reality is alive and well, thanks to technological advancements and to Facebook’s flexibility when it comes to privacy. The most powerful are taking advantage of gaps on this matter by attacking the intermediate actor between the elected officials and the population: news media.

From information we now have, it is clear that Putin is supporting Trump for the November 2020 election. The question is legitimate: does he truly want to support him or only create political chaos? This interference may also be a way for Putin to show his superiority across the globe, in different ways.

The announcement was made a few days ago. One U.S. Intelligence Community briefing concluded that the Russians are trying to interfere in the November presidential election and also in the current Democratic primaries.

The Intelligence Community, whose job is to analyze and deliver foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information to leaders, didn’t reveal the specific details of the Machiavellian campaign, but they are urging the Americans to be on guard for any wrongdoing.

CNN reporting on the Intelligence Community conclusions, on February 21st. CNN’s YouTube account

Considering the fact that Robert Muller, former FBI director and special counsel into the Russian interference investigation, didn’t incriminate Donald Trump in regard to his involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he admitted that something unprecedented had happened. (And that Trump wasn’t exonerated, however.) His report that was over 400 pages, submitted in March 2019, did come up with the findings that something quite unusual had taken place, but that no crimes were committed by the president.

Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious”, said Muller.

It is now clear that there was justice interference by Trump and his team. Surely, they tried to stop the report from being made public.

Back then, some Russian’s had created a sophisticated process with fake news, trying to take aim directly at Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. False Facebook groups and ads were the norm, in hopes to influence Americans from all horizons. Multiple social media accounts were created to fool citizens (especially those who didn’t follow politics assiduously). Repeating disinformation that is targeting democrats is a good way to go. That’s why the local media’s job of fact checking is essential in a democracy. We know that people rely on news to get informed.

Once there is an issue related to news viability, it then leads to an out of control coverage of politics that can end political careers, based on issues that aren’t even true.

Are we close to a new Cold War? Certainly not if Trump wins the upcoming election. Let’s remind ourselves that the president has always been tough on Putin and his actions in Syria. One example of that is when Trump became angry with Putin and Bashar Al-Assad in 2018, after numerous civilian causalities following a chemical attack in Syria. It was not the first time that an attack of this sort took place in the region. More recently, the U.S. assassination of military leader Qassem Soleimani did not please Putin.

More than once since elected, Trump has urged Bashar al-Assad not to use force against his own people.

One of Trump’s multiple tweets calling out Russia and Syria for killings of innocents. Twitter

It was brought to light that the Russian government is supporting Bernie Sanders, who is doing quite well since the start of the primaries. This is not stunning, because Putin must think that Bernie’s the one that has the least chances of defeating the republicans in this election. Trump and Bernie are also both polarizing figures, no wonder they are supported by Putin. The two politicians have some sort of a populist discourse. Both candidates bring passion when it comes to politics. It is somewhat of a phenomenon not seen in American politics until now. Well, not with this intensity.

Sanders knew about all of this one month ago and decided to keep it for himself, which he was criticized for. “What I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not gonna be interfering in American elections,” Sanders said.

Trump and Sanders intend to put all of their attention on the U.S. and not abroad (limiting foreign intervention- especially when it comes to war). The Russian administration doesn’t want the U.S. to interfere in the annexation of Ukraine’s territory. But, If Ever Putin decides to go further than Crimea, better believe Trump will become involved.

We must not only be worried about what the Kremlin has the power to do but also what some of it’s allies are willing to do. They have the power to attract dictatorships with lots of financial resources. Let’s remind ourselves that election interference- in most cases- takes place abroad, with the help of our friend the Internet.

In a face off between Trump-Sanders: advantage Trump, on the basis that the vast majority of Americans are not ready for socialism, or let’s say a social democrat who wants to tackle and change the entire system. I hope that I am wrong.

Bloomberg, the latest buzz in the Democratic Party, attacking Trump and Sanders. Twitter

The “new” Republican Party, that reinvented itself since the election of Donald Trump, has a strange relationship with Putin.

Related to the accusation of Russian interference, he has been calling it a witch hunt ever since he won the presidency.

To clarify: the results of the 2016 election are not to be debated. The Republican Party won the White House. But, did Trump win fair and square leading up to the November 8th results? We now know that foreign interference in the months prior to the election helped him in some way.

Two days before the vote, on November 6, Wikileaks released more than 8,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton. It was tackling the transparency issues surrounding the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s private email server. It revealed disagreements between members of the organization and Clinton’s inner circle. (The last thing you want on your shoulder two days before an election.) To minimize the controversy, Hillary invited Michelle Obama on the campaign trail. Well… it didn’t work out as planned.

Other emails were also made public during the 2016 national Democratic Convention, in July 2016. All in all, it’s roughly 20,000 DNC emails that were made public; showing the establishment’s opposition for Sanders, and a clear bias in favour of Clinton’s candidacy.

It threw gas on the fire and sent Sanders supporters into an unimaginable state of angriness. They were then saying that the Democratic primaries were rigged against their candidate. This may be the main reason some decided to vote for Trump in November 2016.

More recently, it was time for Trump’s long-time friend and ally, Roger Stone, to get sentenced, because of his obstruction role in the Russian investigation.

He pleaded guilty to “seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lie.”

If he is not pardoned by the president, Stone will live the next three years of his life behind bars. He isn’t the only of Trump’s aids to be implicated this matter. Trump indicated right after the sentencing that pardoning Stone wasn’t part of his considerations in the short run. Still, it isn’t off the table. And if he does, that’s what we could call corruption since Trump is related to the whole saga.

As of today, Stone’s defence team won’t admit to any wrongdoing. They are now asking for a new trial, which is unlikely to take place.

The whole impeachment process against the President was based on the President’s call to the Ukrainian president in July, Volodymyr Zelensky. The call could’ve well been because Trump is related to Putin’s inner circle. The subject of the call could’ve also disclosed multiple broken election-finance rules (including Trump’s ex-attorney hush payments to multiple women).

Putin’s meddling in the political process isn’t just a U.S. issue. It should be regarded as a real global threat on democracy.

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon

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