There have been a number of good, detailed articles written about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, but this NYT’s piece is extraordinarily expansive and tracks Putin’s tactics starting as far back as 2014 when he sent two Russian women to travel the country and get an idea of the mood of the country from coast to coast, to the influence campaign itself.
The article goes into detail about Putin’s deep and abiding hatred for Hillary Clinton and explains that his initial desire was to simply keep her out of the White House by any means necessary.
But there was also an opportunity to not only keep a perceived enemy out of the Oval Office but to also put in her place an ally. And potential asset.
Courtesy of NYT:
If Mr. Putin had been designing his ideal leader for the United States, he could hardly have done better than Donald Trump.
For some years, Mr. Trump had attracted attention from Russian conservatives with Kremlin ties. A Putin ally named Konstantin Rykov had begun promoting Mr. Trump as a future president in 2012 and created a Russian-language website three years later to support his candidacy. A Russian think tank, Katehon, had begun running analyses pushing Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump as a candidate was “tough, rough, says what he thinks, rude, emotional and, apparently, candid,” wrote Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist philosopher considered a major influence on Mr. Putin, in February 2016. Mr. Dugin declared that Mr. Trump probably had “no chance of winning” against the “quite annoying” Mrs. Clinton, but added a postscript: “We want to put trust in Donald Trump. Vote for Trump, and see what will happen.”
Against all expectations, Republicans across the country began to do just that, and soon Mr. Trump was beating the crowd of mainstream Republicans. Mr. Putin, said Yuval Weber, a Russia scholar, “found for the first time since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. that he has a prospective president of the United States who fundamentally views international issues from the Russian point of view.”
Asked about the surging Mr. Trump in December 2015, Mr. Putin said he was “a talent, without any doubt,” and “absolutely the leader in the presidential race.” He also applied to the candidate the Russian word yarkii, which means “colorful” or “flamboyant” but which some reports mistranslated as “brilliant,” an assessment that Mr. Trump immediately began repeating.
“It’s always a great honor to be so nicely complimented,” Mr. Trump said, “by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
After Trump won the election he then began filling his administration with Russian sympathizers that the article labels “Moscow’s Dream Team.”
Of course, we are all familiar with the Putin wish list that Trump has been fulfilling since he took office, which included undermining NATO, doing away with NAFTA, pushing back on the Russian sanctions, attacking American allies, and ending military exercises near North Korea, just to name a few.
The article lays out a strong case for believing that Putin’s actions must have been welcomed at some level by the Trump campaign then, and Trump Administration now.
Experts who have studied Russian operations for decades see the catalog of contacts and communications between Russians and Mr. Trump’s advisers as a loosely coordinated effort by Russian intelligence both to get insight into the campaign and to influence it.
“The Russians aren’t reckless, and I don’t see them going through with this effort without thinking they had a willing partner in the dance,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larsson, a former C.I.A. officer who served as the spy agency’s station chief in Moscow.
Of course currently, Trump is working hard to not only save his presidency but also protect all of the Kremlin’s hard work by attacking and undermining the Mueller investigation which will surely reveal details that both Putin and Trump desperately want to keep hidden.
And that in my mind is just more evidence of collusion.
Do yourself a favor and read the entire article.
Yes, it is long, but there is a lot to share, so in the end, it is certainly worth the time and effort.