Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook on Sunday said that Donald Trump is receiving backing from the government of Russia, headed by political strongman Vladimir Putin — saying that Russian computer hackers were behind the leak of nearly 30,000 private Democratic National Committee staff emails published by the site WikiLeaks earlier in the week and that have caused a furor on the even of the Democratic National Convention which opens Monday in Philadelphia.
But with Russia being named as the culprit behind the theft and subsequent WikiLeaks release of the emails, it is now becoming clear according to numerous media reports, that the ties between Donald Trump and Russia run much deeper and go back further than simply the email hack — and that Vladimir Putin may be actively attempting to tilt the United States 2016 presidential election toward Trump.
— CNN (@CNN) July 24, 2016
In addition to Mook, numerous journalists this weekend have asked whether the DNC email hack was “a favor” to Donald Trump from Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia.
Following are five points about the apparent links between Donald Trump and Russia that voters need to take into consideration in making a decision whether or not to vote for Trump on November 8.
Donald Trump Has Deep Financial Ties To Russia
Journalist Josh Marshall, founder and editor of the Talking Points Memo political news site, published an article on Saturday, detailing the extent to which Trump has become financially entwined with Russian interests close to Putin.
Trump needs the Russian cash, Marshall reported — citing a Bloomberg News story — because his debt load has nearly doubled in the past year alone and now stands at a whopping $650 million. At the same time Trump’s “liquid” assets — that is, available cash — dropped from $225 million to $170 million.
“Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks,” Marshall wrote. “Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin.”
Read the full Josh Marshall report on Trump’s Russia money connections at this link.
Trump Has Repeatedly Praised Vladimir Putin
As far back as 2007, Donald Trump lauded Vladimir Putin for “rebuilding Russia,” saying that Putin did a better job of running his country than President George W. Bush did as president of the United States, according to a report by Franklin Foer of the online magazine Slate, a report accessible at this link.
In 2013, after Vladimir Putin published an anti-American op-ed column in The New York Times, Trump hailed the essay as “a masterpiece.” Trump also denies that a Putin has ordered political rivals and critics assassinated, though most experts agree that there is plenty of evidence to support the accusation. If indeed Putin had his rivals killed, Trump seemed to give the Russian leader a pass, saying, “at least he’s a leader.”
Russian Media And Propaganda Has Supported Donald Trump
The cable TV and online news network RT is owned by the Russian government and serves as the English language voice of Russia in the United States, Politico Magazine reported in April, in an article about the Trump-RT connection titled, “The Kremlin’s Candidate.”
“RT is a strange place. It styles itself as an edgy CNN or BBC, delivering unvarnished news and commentary with a mostly hip, young cast,” Politico‘s Michael Crowley wrote. “But just under the surface is a bought-and-paid-for propaganda vehicle trying to nudge viewers toward Russia’s side of the story.”
And as the U.S. campaign season progressed, RT has thrown its support behind one candidate — Donald Trump.
“Tune in… these days and you’ll find a presidential race featuring Hillary Clinton as a malevolent warmonger, Bernie Sanders as an insurgent hero — and Donald Trump as a foreign policy savant,” Crowley wrote.
— Helen Mess (@HCMess) July 24, 2016
The Russian propaganda effort also extends to online and social media.
“A network of Russian-backed anti-Western websites are linked with American white supremacist, sovereign citizen, and conspiracy theory sites,” wrote Australian journalist Chris Zappone. “Activists connected to those sites support the Trump campaign, often parroting Moscow’s criticism of the US, NATO and the general ills of Western society.”
Read Zappone’s full report on the Russian online effort in support of Donald Trump in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, at this link.
Vladimir Putin Has Interfered In Foreign Elections Before
“Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West — and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump,” wrote Foer in his Slate report published Thursday.
Foer recounts that Putin has pumped money to “right-wing populist” political candidates across Europe, including French ultra-nationalist presidential candidate Marie Le Pen and right-wing Italian billionaire Silvio Berlusconi who has been elected his country’s prime minister on three occasions, as well as far-right political parties in Greece, Bulgaria, and Hungary.
Putin makes no secret of his agenda to undermine the European Union, with Russian propaganda enthusiastically backing the British “Brexit” withdrawal from the EU. Putin’s other major Western target is the NATO alliance, which Putin sees as threat to Russian rule over Eastern Europe, and possibly beyond.
Trump also vociferously supported Brexit and has repeatedly declared that he will not honor NATO treaties unless other member countries pony up cash for the U.S. military’s involvement — both policies certain to please Vladimir Putin, and that could give Russia a free hand to extend its sphere of influence deeper into Europe, even by invading neighboring countries.
Russian Hackers Infiltrated DNC Servers For A Year
According to a Washington Post report in June, Russia-based computer hackers who, the DNC admitted, stole a sensitive “opposition research” document about Donald Trump, had actually gained access to the DNC servers for “about a year” and were not driven out until a major security check in mid-June.
The DNC emails published by WikiLeaks dated from the primary campaign season — during the same time the Russian hackers had access to DNC internal computers.
Russia denied any connection to the hacks, and an anonymous hacker with the online name “Guccifer 2.0” claimed credit for breaking into the DNC servers.
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But an investigation by Motherboard Magazine, which included an actual interview with the person claiming to be “Guccifer 2.0,” concluded that the persona was a phony, created as a cover-up by Russia.
“Considering a long trail of breadcrumbs pointing back to Russia left by the hacker, as well as other circumstantial evidence,” Motherboard reporter Lorenzo Frenceschi-Bicchierai wrote, “it appears more likely that Guccifer 2.0 is nothing but a disinformation or deception campaign by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own hack—and a hasty and sloppy one at that.”
Read the full Motherboard article connecting the DNC hack to Russia at this link.
As seen in the video above, Donald Trump campaign spokespesrson Donald Trump Jr. strongly denied that his father, and the Donald Trump campaign is connected to Russia or to the DNC hack.
[Photos By Alex Wong/Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images]