Back to Russia Links
Terry H. Schwadron
March 18, 2021
Welcome back, Donald Trump and Russia.
Like a old vaudeville team that refuses to leave the stage, a newly declassified U.S. Intelligence report — written by career professionals while Trump was still president and either hidden or mis-advertised by Trump’s national security staff, pins election interference right on Russian President Vladimir Putin on behalf of the Trump’s re-election.
And just for good measure, the agencies found that Iran tried to distribute misinformation as well — against Trump and for Joe Biden. But despite all of Trump’s wailing about them, the Chinese were ruled out as an interference threat.
Instead, we once again were drawn into the intrigues by Russia to feed disinformation to Trump intermediaries (read Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.) instead of their 2016 attempts to use American channels to directly distribute bad information and ads.
As The Washington Post tells it, the play was to use Ukrainians linked to Russian intelligence to “launder” unsubstantiated allegations against Biden through U.S. media, lawmakers and prominent individuals, an apparent reference to Giuliani. One key source was Ukrainian lawmaker Andrei Derkach, who also met with Johnson to advance dirt on the Biden family, and who has been sanctioned as a Russian agent.
All this undoubtedly will find its way into a federal investigation into Giuliani’s related business affairs.
We do have to wonder whether Giuliani and his strange team of lawyers and Ukrainian businessmen ever realized that he and they were being treated as tools of Russian spies.
Biden says Russia will pay some as yet unidentified price in sanctions or other bilateral action. But we have to wonder what Justice or the White House does with the Americans involved here? Will anyone be face charges? It didn’t happen with the Mueller Report, it didn’t happen with impeachment trials, and Trump associates caught up in Russian entanglements ended in guilt, Trump simply pardoned them.
Motive: Get Biden
It’s not such a jump: Either Giuliani, Johnson, Nunes, and the rest of the very active Trump support team made themselves intentionally stupid to the idea of promoting foreign interests, or they actively carried water for the Russians without caring if their interests and the Russians’ aligned.
They bought into the Trump cause at any cost — including what look like crimes and now speaking words for Russian spies.
That was good for Trump, maybe, but bad on every count for America, its values, international rules and ethics, and whatever we mean by saluting democracy.
Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, was livid on MSNBC: “All of the people who just regurgitated every day and every night and, by the way, still do it every night on cable television, this mantra of Russian propaganda, they’re not just liars now. Now we have to call them what they are. They are Russian assets when they regurgitate the lies that they know come from the Russian intelligence service.”
It was not immediately clear what this report means for Trump himself, though once again we see the interests of Trump and Russia thrown together again — his own words notwithstanding. But it does once again kick the legs out of Trump’s claims of election victimhood, and it re-raises all the impeachment questions that we heard argued a year ago.
Disclosure of the report was required under a 2019 law. Until now, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Ratcliffe had said the report mostly fingered China and Iran rather than Russia. Not so, once again — not any more than the Mueller Report “exonerated” Trump’s 2016 campaign from cooperating with Russian intelligence operatives. It said the opposite.
“Moscow almost certainly views meddling in U.S. elections as an equitable response to perceived actions by Washington and an opportunity to both undermine U.S. global standing and influence U.S. decision-making,” the report said.
Efforts by Iran were covert and not considered very effective. And a companion report by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security also rejected false allegations promoted by Trump allies that Venezuela or other foreign countries defrauded the election.
Neither country tried to change U.S. ballots, just to muddy the campaigning waters.
Obviously Russia did not get the election outcome it had sought, but it has contributed towards dissent and disintegration efforts within the United States. Indeed, the success of the Russian effort can be seen in the widened political divide in the country, and the healthy antipathy towards anyone opposing Trump.
One can only imagine the glee inside the Kremlin to have had Trump’s disputes over election fraud have resulted in the Jan. 6 Trump mob at the U.S. Capitol.
Still, it seems beyond belief that this report will draw even a second’s worth of interest from the Trump forces in Congress who have repeatedly insisted that he has done nothing against the interests of this country.