A Month and a Half before the June 9 Meeting, Trump Campaign Learned about Hacked Emails

In response to yesterday’s server hiccups and in anticipation that Mueller is nowhere near done, we expanded our server capacity overnight. If you think you’ll rely on emptywheel reporting on the Mueller probe, please consider a donation to support the site

As I laid out here, the indictment against Paul Manafort is meant to embarrass him, but still pave the way for him to flip. That’s the carrot, if an indictment stripping the money laundered suits off Manafort’s back can be said to be good news.

The bad news is this guilty plea, for false statements, by campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, signed on October 5, but only unsealed today. That plea makes it clear that 1) the campaign had, as an explicit goal, making friends with Russia 2) a month and a half before the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, Russian handlers dangled the stolen Hillary emails 3) Papadopoulos has cooperated beyond what has been laid out in the guilty plea.

As the plea lays out, Papadopoulos learned in early March he’d be a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. Within weeks, a professor fresh off a trip to Moscow started cultivating him, and introduced him to a woman pretending to be Vladimir Putin’s niece. After meeting that handler, Papadopoulos attended a meeting with Trump and others where he explained “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.” The plea makes clear that Papadopoulos kept the campaign in the loop on his “outreach to Russia.”

And it makes it clear that on April 26 — three days before the DNC figured out Russia had hacked them — Papadopoulos’ handler told him Moscow had dirt on clinton.

The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”

After learning the Russians had emails on Clinton even before Clinton learned it, Papadopoulos “continued to correspond with Campaign officials,” including his Senior Policy Advisor and a High-Ranking Campaign Official. (One of these may be Manafort; another almost certainly is Jeff Sessions.)

In response, the campaign decided to send someone low level “so as not to send any signal.”

It turns out, Papadopoulos lied about some of this the first time he spoke with the FBI about it on January 27. For example, he claimed he learned about the emails before he joined the campaign, trying to pretend that he didn’t learn about them only because he had just been named a top advisor.

Papadopoulos must be a fucking idiot, because a number of his communications with his Russian handlers were on Skype, a PRISM provider. Though he tried to stop using his communications immediately after his second FBI interview, which is a bit too late.

My favorite part of the plea his the last paragraph:

On July 27, 2017, defendant PAPADOPOULOS was arrested upon his arrival at Dulles International Airport. Following his arrest, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.

I’m betting the FBI asked him about this detail, from a March 31 meeting.

On or about March 31, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS attended a “national security meeting” in Washington, D.C., with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisors for the Campaign. When defendant PAPADOPOULOS introduced himself to the group, he stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.

Here’s what that meeting looked like:

You’ll note that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was at the meeting as well. Just last week Jeff Sessions claimed to know nothing about collusion.

I’m guessing this plea is going to make flipped far more attractive to Paul Manafort.  Because Manafort now knows that the government knows that the campaign knew about Hillary’s emails well before that June 9, 2016 meeting.

 

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

56 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    We still don’t know exactly how and why Papadopolous (with his extensive Model UN expertise) ended up on that March 21 list of foreign policy advisors with Carter Page, International Man of Weird, or who brought him in a week previously.

    It’s interesting that the Gilligan’s Spyland Russian approach by The Professor and Marina Anastasia — at least, the one he pled on — took place afterwards, once he blabbed about it. And fast.

    March-April (when Manafort showed up offering to work for free, and the APT28 operation began) seems to come back into focus. And again we have the “missing Hillary emails” track almost as a McGuffin.

    The last interaction recorded in the Papadopolous statement was “on or around” August 15, the day the NYT ran its story on the Manafort black ledger payments in Ukraine, which was the beginning of the end for Paulie Floor Rug’s campaign chairmanship. That seems to be not a coincidence.

    • orionATL says:

      puedononymous in n. c.

      “… It’s interesting that the Gilligan’s Spyland Russian approach by The Professor and Marina Anastasia — at least, the one he pled on — took place afterwards, once he blabbed about it. And fast…”

      not sure, but if you are implying scepticism about the setup that ensnared popodopolous, count me in.

      the only reasonable counter argument i can think of is that the ruskies were waiting for george with open arms (based on a tip off?).

  2. Sebastian Dangerfield says:

    I don’ t think it safe to assume the the e-mails referenced in these communiqués are necessarily the e-mails taken from the DNC and from Podesta. They may well be, but that’s not clear, especially considering that none of the e-mails picked up from the DNC or Podesta were Clinton’s own e-mails. It’s possible that this is a reference to the e-mails deleted from Clinton’s server, which DJT had shown such interest in, and that the people peddling them were actually full of shit but were using the fat that these idiots were falling all over themselves to try to get such help as a lure.

      • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

        Aw shucks. Likewise! Living in self-imposed exile, watching the Grand Guignol show that is American politics from afar (mostly) these days. Drop by here from time to time for the always excellent analysis (although for some subjects batted around here, it’s tough to just drop by in medias res, as the weeds get thick quicklike); now that I’ve dussted off the old nom de guerre, I should return to making this a habit.

    • Anon says:

      @Dangerfield, Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone made a semi-related point along these lines about the Kushner meeting.

      In that case he noted that the people making the offer had also approached other individuals making promises that they probably could not keep all in an effort to get the Magnitsky act overturned.

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/trump-russia-russiagate-magnitsky-affair-linked-again-w492290

      While he is focusing on different people my read on his article also argues for skepticism about whether or not they even had anything or if this was just dynamite fishing for idiots. At this point it may be possible that this was nothing more than an attempt to find idiot fry and wind them up just to see what could be accomplished.

      All of which brings me to a question that has been bugging me this whole day. Why go after someone like Papadopoulos anyway? Manafort was already in business with Russians who knew him and who had a vested interest. And Kushner is an obvious choice on contact.

      But Papadopoulos had, as far as I know, no real major international profile nor any official status at Trump’s elbow (yet). Why would anyone pick him unless they either: a) knew he would have status; or b) were just trolling everyone who looked gullible.

      • bmaz says:

        Why go after Pappa?? Why not? You have him cold, he is young and scared and ready to be rolled.

        That’s why. Just the fact that you have him is a big face card to play, in and of itself. You may have noticed that was done today, for instance. The rest is gravy.

        • maybe ryan says:

          bmaz,

          I don’t think anon was referring to Mueller.  The interesting question I think anon was raising is If Paulie Walnuts is so hotwired, why did the Russians need ANY additional clumsy probing approaches to the campaign?

          Your answer – Why not?  Getting anyone is a big face card – may hold.  Or it may be that Manafort didn’t feel strong enough to get things done on his own, and/or needed to implicate others.  In such settings, you may always feel more confident approving the idea that you’ve prompted someone else to bring to you rather than pushing it forward on your own.

          But another possible meta-message of the approaches to Papa Dop and DonT Jr. is that the Russians didn’t yet feel they had a strong channel.

          • bmaz says:

            That is a fair question. My guess is they were just different paths in to the campaign. And the Russians were testing multiple paths in.

  3. orionATL says:

    yes, i do do see that attorney general sessions is in the picture.

    but that is not all i see.

    i see that the attorney general is at the head of the table on one end (with trump at the other). this is clear status sign.

    i see sessions is talking and all the pudgy suits at the table are looking directly at him. this is respect and authority on “national security”, i. e. on deals with russia/putin. so we can guess, based on that picture, that the meetings with kisylyak were not trivial. from now on, i’m betting that sessions was in this hip deep.

    no wonder he accetpted recusal so meekly.

    i’ll bet he knows he’s not a rope’s thickness away from an easily provable perjury charge – and obstruction, if he messes with rosenstein, mueller.

    • orionATL says:

      maybe itvwill come to pass that attny gen sessions will become the central focus of the mueller investigation.

      • orionATL says:

        :))

        with luck and some investigative skill, and the use of nsa transcripts, jefferson beauregard sessions iii will also have a bad xmas and a bad groundhog day and a bad jefferson davis birthday.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    As I had noted on bmaz’s post, the newly released Papadopoulos confession is something that should concern the entire WH staff a great deal.

    Sessions may indeed find himself in Mueller’s cross-hairs, and Orion’s observations about usual meeting etiquette are correct although IIRC at the WH Kaiser Donaldus usually sits in the middle of the table (maybe he can’t throw pens that far with those little hands).  There is no Carter Page nor Michael Flynn that I see but they may be obscured.   If this meeting was about foreign policy I would have expected at least one of them to be there.

    Trump already tweeted that Paul’s indictment is a nothingburger and no collusion to see here.  Also, as part of that the Kaiser essentially said to Paul that he was on his own.  Two points: the question about who is paying for Manafort’s lawyers and for how long is especially apt, and how long will it take for Paul to rat out the Kaiser?  It’s not like Manafort is a “true believer” like for example Michael Flynn (and that may be why Mueller indicted Manafort first, because he has no ideological principles), so I would suspect that self preservation will take over once Paul realizes that Kaiser Disgustus really will throw him under the bus.  If/when that happens, Trump is finished.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is it not curious that a then leading contender for the GOP’s candidate for president, then its candidate, wanted so badly to up his relationship with the head of state of the country with which the US is most in conflict?

    Trump baby knew Russian money bankrolled some of his projects for decades. Odds are that at least some of that was Russian mob money. He knew how closely knotted big money was in Moscow. Because so much of it emanated from privatizing state resources or flowed from state-backed monopolies, for mob boss or oligarch, political connections were key. Becoming or staying an oligarch or top mob boss depended on how well one got or gets along with Vladimir Putin. Putin also controlled Russian state security, with its global intelligence services. Trump and his associates presumably assumed that any dirt on Hillary from such well-placed Russian sources would have come from Russian government intel sources, the creme de la creme of oppo research artists.

    For candidate and now president Trump, how is wanting and having a closer relationship with Vladimir Putin not inherently corrupt?

    • matt says:

      What’s wrong with putting business interests first?  Trump, Manifort, Tillerson, Page, etc, likely cannot fathom that political office is “service” to the American Public.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        When you are only a business person, business can come first.  A public employee has other, conflicting obligations.  That Trump, Manafort, et al. cannot fathom the difference suggests they are not fit to be public employees.  Tillerson, I suggest, does know the difference, but he’s working for a man for whom business ethics is not a merely contradiction in terms, but an unnecessary hindrance to profit-taking.

    • orionATL says:

      manafort’s bail has been set at $10 mill? jeez, his wife is going to have to sell a lot of rugs to raise that mind og dough.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Seeing Hackabee Sanders on full-bullshit form right now, Mueller chose his indictments carefully: the Manafort/Gates ones on money laundering and FARA stuff, the Papadopolous plea from a somewhat peripheral youngish member of that Island of Misfit Toys foreign-policy committee who got some extra help from Professor and Marinka.

    So the WH line is currently “before the campaign” and “just some guy who was never a big part of the campaign and got busted on lying, not on actions”, not insta-pardons and shutting Mueller down (as it might have been w/ Flynn and his Large Adult Son or others with even closer ties).

    In that sense, Mueller’s allowed the White House to set up a canary for the integrity of his own investigation.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    SHS just finished her press conference, and the official line is still Hillary colluded and George was a minor campaign volunteer who didn’t get anywhere with the Russians and that shows how unimportant he was.  The journos did not appear to be buying the story either.  Plus, Sarah’s bad at math in her “ten reporters in a bar” tax story.  Not a good day for her, bwa hahahahahaha.

    Faux and the GOP are pounding on the Uranium One and email non-stories, but if this is all they have that might work, it’s a loser for them.

    I did see a report that a wire was worn, by Papadopoulos, but not when or where.  If so, it will turn up in future indictments as evidence of collusion.  When SHS was asked about Sessions’ presence in the photo here, SHS said that was the only meeting of this group.  That part may be true “… in one room” but I’m sure they all talked behind the scenes to minimize the photo trail.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/30/1711011/-Papadopoulos-probably-wore-a-wire

    Lewandowski decided he needed to pay for his early Xmas shopping, and jumped in to say the FBI should have tipped off the Trump campaign (but that would involve leaking a secret FISA warrant for wiretapping – what a maroon).

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/lewandowski-says-fbi-should-have-warned-trump-about-manafort

    Sekulow says there is nothing to see here and puts on the stiff upper lip.  FWIW, Gates and Manafort pleaded “not guilty”.  We shall see how optimistic Jay is when more Papadopoulos revelations dribble out.

    Nonetheless, the GOP will have a much harder time spiking the investigation now with GP’s guilty plea saying the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, even with the corporate press finding any excuse or using the “both sides do it” defense. Where’s Cillizza when you need him, or Bobo Brooks?

     

  8. Arbed says:

    From the Papadopoulos indictment:

    “they have thousands of emails.”  That sounds awfully close to “they have 33 thousand emails” to me, ie the ones Hillary Clinton deleted then doused her private basement server with Bleach Bit. This was the talk of the town in March 2016 and even US intelligence officials were saying the Russians, Chinese and Uncle Tom Cobbley probably had them because Clinton’s homebrew security had been so lax.

    T’would also fit with Trump’s public remark “Hey Russia, if you’re listening can you get Hillary’s 33,000 deleted emails. The US press would reward you mightily”

     

    • Joe Buck says:

      BleachBit is a program, not something you “douse” a server with. It isn’t bleach. Ordinarily, when you delete a file or an email from your computer, that file or message isn’t really deleted.  All that happens is that some bookkeeping is changed, marking that part of your disk as free space, which won’t be overwritten until you create more files and the operating system decided to use that space. For security purposes, before you sell your computer to someone else you should more aggressively be sure that the original data are truly gone.  It’s not some extreme measure; since the server was being decommissioned, it’s standard practice. In fact, you would *want* to make sure that the classified info that was on that server, and turned over, was thoroughly eliminated before someone digs the discarded disk out of the trash. I’m not a Hillary fan at all (voted for Bernie, held my nose and voted for Hillary in the general because Trump), but like Bernie, I’m tired of hearing about the damned emails.

      • bmaz says:

        You appear new here, and welcome. The denizens are generally pretty smart. They also joke a fair amount.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    Pierce is on fire today, but buried in the first Manafort story was the point that it’s not just the Kaiser, but many of his minions who will have reason to worry.  JeffBo we know about, but since Mueller’s charges involve the Bank of Cyprus (a well-known money-laundering operation) it will nail Wilbur Ross since he was on that bank’s board before becoming Commerce Secretary.  The GOP has much to fear, and while I think house arrest is too easy, I’d bet plenty that there is a wiretap on  Mueller’s, Gates and Papadopoulos’ respective phones.

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a13118388/manafort-charges-russia-investigation/

     

     

    • orionATL says:

      the bank of cyprus – where russian corruption enjoys a leisurely holiday and great greek/turkish salads.

      didn’t the guy who is suing buzz feed have a cyprus connection?

      why yes (from the hill) :

      “… McClatchy says XBT Holdings, a tech firm with Russian ties named in the document, is suing BuzzFeed, editor in chief Ben Smith and former British spy Christopher Steele over the January 10 publication of what the suit calls “libelous, unverified and untrue allegations.”

      The dossier, which includes uncorroborated allegations about Trump, claims the Cyprus-based XBT, which is owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev, “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership” in 2016… ”

      but haven’t we heard recently that the alpha servers “chip, chip, chip” might have been included some very sophisticated signaling? and following that disclosure, aren’t the scientists who uncovered that possibility being harrassed by alpha bank lawyers in the u. s.? why yes, naturally. mueller will get interested in this in time i’m confident. this situation smells of a swamp – damp and fetid.

      but first things first. simple, provable findings first, findings that won’t confuse a jury at all.

      that’s the lesson learned from ew’s coverage of the scooter libby trial.

  10. Arbed says:

    ‘In response, the campaign decided to send someone low level “so as not to send any signal”.’

    Is this correct? I read that footnote as saying the senior campaign official told a colleague (Papadopoulos not cc’d in) to get someone low-level in the campaign to convey the message that Trump would not be doing any trips to Russia, RATHER THAN have a senior campaign official confirm that message and it would/could be interpreted by both US press and Russians as SIGNALLING future policy.

  11. PG says:

    I’ve believed that if there were actual “collusion” or coordination with the Kremlin in the form of an explicit quid pro quo, it would have been a sophisticated operation, through channels established by Manafort (and/or others with similar long-standing connections) and difficult to trace. And that still may pan out.

    What strikes me, in contrast, is the nature of the outreach to Papadopoulos. This cloak and dagger scenario is conducted as if no other more suitable avenues of communication and negotiation already existed. The Papadopoulos ensnarement narrative contradicts the long-standing Trump/Manafort/Russian ties and enmeshment narrative. And, it appears that in both the case of the June 9th meeting and the Papadopoulos contacts, the promised quid/information never materialized. So, I can’t shake the sense that Kompromat was at play in the melodramatic contacts that the more inexperienced members of Team Trump had with Russians, while actual collusion may have been taking place elsewhere.

    • PG says:

      Stepping further down the road of wild speculation… If the sum of the Russian “collusion” suspicions are solely the result of the repeated dangles of dirt on Hillary to the naive and/or stupid, it’s likely Manafort was too saavy to get involved in such an explicit exchange.  So, perhaps Manafort quit not just because he couldn’t control the chaos but in fear they’d all wind up in prison (which he’d managed until then to avoid.)  In which case, would he be even more likely to flip?

  12. Rugger9 says:

    I might agree with PG on the idea of Junior being a convenient doofus and fall guy, but we also know the information was used in FL in House races (this is the part that gets LyinRyan and McTurtle in trouble) so something had to have materialized.

    I agree that Manafort is sleazy enough and experienced enough to cover his tracks with some shiny object and attention-starved Junior was at hand. The MO continues a pattern we have seen many times from the WH spin shop with some shiny object distraction involving HRC any time something comes up.

    So, if this theory holds, Junior’s got a bus waiting for him because the alternative (i.e. a deep Trump state collusion) is worse.

  13. chris says:

    The night after Papadopoulos’ first interview with the FBI, Trump invited Comey to the White House in hope of landing a loyalty pledge.

    Surely a coincidence.

  14. DenverDave says:

    If (then) Senator Jeff Sessions knew about the hacked emails (this being at least one of the Russian connections), and as he was the “former ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee,” could he be potentially charged with treason for his actions, inaction, perjury, conspiracy, etc.? After all, he took an oath of office to server in the U.S. Senate.

  15. klynn says:

    Bingo Chris. This is why I think a crowd sourced timeline is so important. I pointed that timing fact out to friends today and they were stunned.

  16. DenverDave says:

    If (then) U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (1) knew about the hacked emails (this being at least one of the so-called “Russian connections”), and (2) he neglected to report it to the FBI, as the “former ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee,” could he be charged with treason for his actions, inactions, perjury, conspiracy, with respect to his testimony to Congress, the FBI, etc.? After all, he took an oath of office to serve in the U.S. Senate.

    • bmaz says:

      No. Full stop. You are new here, but, no, anybody who mentions “treason” is nutty. It is, legally a non starter, for many reasons. But you need go no further than that we are not at war with Russia. That alone is enough. Don’t do this.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, heck no, questions are great. And welcome to Emptywheel discussion threads, please participate often. I have a personal little hobby horse about people bandying about allegations of “treason”. Rugger gave a fine thumbnail already, so I won’t delve into the whole speech. Anyway, again, welcome.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Treason, no.  That is spelled out in the Constitution and so far the requirements aren’t met yet, starting with the fact we are not in a state of war with Russia, declared or otherwise.  However, something like this would be considered acting on behalf of a foreign power (FARA and I don’t think there is a Congressional exception carved out either) plus the Espionage Act as well as lying to the investigators and probably to Congress as well.  It wasn’t the stock deal that got Martha Stewart sent to Club Fed, it was not telling the truth to the Feebs when she had the chance.  Even the lawyers she could afford couldn’t keep her out of jail.

  17. tom draghi says:

    This guy (joseph Mifsud)  appears as though he may be “the professor” who tried to compromise George Papadopoulis; he seems likely to be an MI6 spook which would make it quite interesting (the link below gives the URL of a cached version of his profile [which has been taken down but is available in cached form]. it is quite impressive):

    6. Mifsud’s profile disappeared from a London legal practice’s website as rumors swirled
    On the morning of Oct. 30, Mifsud was listed as the director of International Strategic Development at the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP). Later that afternoon, his profile page appeared to have been taken down. (It is still accessible via a cached link.)
    The LCILP’s phone went straight to voicemail when called. Early on Monday, the LCILP’s address was listed as: Ground Floor South, 14 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London. When Quartz visited that address—which is at one of London’s four medieval Inns of Court, of which every British barrister has to be a member—it didn’t find the name listed anywhere. A man found exiting the small building told Quartz he works there and he had never heard of the company—”and I spend a lot of time here,” he added.
    Later on Monday, that address had been removed from the website. Quartz visited the other address on the website, just around the corner at 8 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and found a buzzer with LCILP’s name on it. When pressed, a visitor was put straight to an answerphone. Inside the building, LCILP’s name was on a mailbox but there was no other sign of the company in the building, which had at least one floor that seemed to be unoccupied.
    So, just who is Joseph Mifsud?
    His scrubbed profile on the LCILP website lists myriad positions that Mifsud has filled, as does a profile on the European Parliament’s website (pdf). He is president of the Euro-Mediterranean University in Slovenia, according to the EU, and has worked in Malta’s foreign ministry, representing the island nation at the Council of Europe.
    The LCILP says he has worked in Malta’s ministry of education, is a member of the Valdai Club and the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank. It lists his geographical areas of expertise as basically the whole world (outside Latin America): Europe, USA, The Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
    Mifsud is listed as a “professorial teaching fellow” at Stirling University. The administration support officer at the university said he was a dean for international development and diplomacy but that “he’s not often on campus here…he does a lot of traveling.”
    When Quartz phoned the Academy of Diplomacy at Loughborough University London, a reporter was told that Mifsud was not listed in any of their internal systems.
    https://qz.com/1115591/the-professor-in-the-george-papadopoulos-case-who-tried-to-connect-trump-to-kremlin-is-probably-joseph-mifsud/

  18. Rapier says:

    I wonder who this professor that was in contact with Papadopoulos was?

    Beyond that it seem absurd that anyone would think a meeting with Putin, surreptitious or not, would be of any possible value in any circumstance in relation to the campaign or later as policy was enacted by a Trump administration. The entire idea of a meeting scream amateur hour, big time. Of course the administration is always screaming amateur hour but this stuff especially absurd.

    There is however nobody around in policy circles who is anything but all in on ‘containing’ Russia. As events have now shown, for all the interest of Trump in a Russia USA reset in fact we are still on a collision course. Nothing has changed.

    • matt says:

      “in fact we are still on a collision course [with Russia]. Nothing has changed.”

      Yes, that is what is behind all of this.  If we back our eyes out of the microscope we can see that we have, in fact, begun another cold war with Russia- starting with our occupation of Central Asia.  Then, breaking our promise to leave former Warsaw Pact nations independent and courting them (and arming them) for NATO.  Syria too is a battleground for Russian vs US energy interests, having nothing to do with a “terrorist” threats.  If the Clinton emails revealed anything, it is that the strategy and end goals of foreign policy in the Middle East has nothing to do with the reasons given to the American People.

      The 2016 election, and investigation too, is a battle in an ongoing cold war with Russia.  If we look to see the forest through the trees, should we ask where this brazen US aggression encircling Russia’s former sphere of influence is leading us in the next decade?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Tthe US has the dirtiest hands going when it comes to state interference over foreign elections.  We have actively interfered for decades in the elections of friend and foe alike.  It would be difficult to make an argument against what Russia is doing that would not equally indict the US.

        We can and should resist such foreign interference, especially the forms so enabled and magnified by hi-tech.  The battleground for that should start at home.  We should make state and national elections machinery more robust and hard to tamper with.  We should establish hard paper trails for votes, and stop nationwide attempts to suppress the vote, largely by GOP legislatures, secretaries of state and governors, and so on.

        We might also try to rein in our own interference offshore, especially now that we have special forces operatives stationed in almost every country on the planet.  But perhaps that’s a separate topic.

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