There’s no doubt that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, as they commonly do in elections all over the globe. But there is plenty of reason to doubt (and no reason to believe) that they intervened specifically to benefit the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump.
The goal of Russian interference in elections is more often to create chaos than to help any particular candidate, as evidenced by the fact that Russians helped simultaneously organize pro and anti-Trump protests after the election (one of which was attended by Michael Moore).
Why Russia would’ve wanted Trump to take office is a question liberals have never had a serious answer for. Why in the world would they back an unpredictable outsider over an establishment hack?
While Russia didn’t explicitly back a candidate, former National Security Council Chief of Staff Fred Fleitz now says that there’s evidence that Russia at least preferred a Madam President – and that former CIA Director and Spygate character John Brennan ignored and hid the evidence of that.
According to the Daily Caller:
Fleitz says House Intelligence Committee staff members discovered exactly the opposite [that Russia packed Trump] and told him that there is ample evidence that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 election, but not necessarily on behalf of Trump.
“More gravely, they said that [then-] CIA Director John Brennan suppressed facts or analysis that showed why it was not in Russia’s interests to support Trump and why Putin stood to benefit from Hillary Clinton’s election. They also told me that Brennan suppressed that intelligence over the objections of CIA analysts.”
The former NSC chief of staff further stated that “Brennan suppressed high-quality intelligence suggesting that Putin actually wanted the more predictable and malleable Clinton to win the 2016 election.”
Fleitz suggested that Brennan relied upon “low-quality intelligence that failed to meet intelligence community standards to support the political claim that Russian officials wanted Trump to win … ”
Contrary to the conventional unwisdom on the left, Trump has been no ally of Russia. As I noted in mid-2018, just a year and a half into his presidency:
- Trump did approve the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine in December 2017 (Obama did not).
- On the annexation of Crimea, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated “We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree with Russia on that front. And our Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.”
- Trump has ordered missiles to be fired at Syrian military sites (after President Assad was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people), which have a strategic alliance with Russia. In response, Putin accused the U.S. of “making the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse and bring[ing] suffering to civilians with its strikes.”
- In August 2017, Trump signed into law CAATSA, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. In the words of the geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor, “CAATSA demonstrates that the United States is more strident than ever in pushing other countries to reduce their defense and energy ties with Russia.”
- In March, following the poisoning (presumably by the Russian government) of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats.
- In April, Trump imposed more sanctions on Russia following the indictments of 13 Russians for “malicious cyber activities” earlier in March. Russia’s stock market dropped 11% on the news. Shares of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal (which is the world’s second largest aluminium company) tanked 40% on the news.
And just months ago the administration announced new sanctions against Russia stemming from their occupation of Crimea.
I don’t remember Hillary Clinton ever speaking out in favor of these sanctions – because she would’ve never implemented them as President.