The “smoking gun” in the alleged conspiracy between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia to rig the 2016 United States presidential election in Trump’s favor will be found not in Russia or in the United States — but in a small European country with a population smaller than the state of Ohio, according to a new report published last week.
That country is Hungary, and the report which links the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to a shadowy, but important top Trump adviser — and to the release of hacked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks — appeared on the Montreal-based pro-democracy site, Hungarian Free Press. The report, titled “The Budapest Bridge: Hungary’s Role in the Collusion Between the Trump Campaign and the Russian Secret Service,” appeared in two parts.
According to the report authored by Montreal-based, Concordia University emeritus professor Andras B. Göllner, the key to the Hungarian connection lies in the link between Orban — described in a 2015 Politico profile as “Europe’s New Dictator” — and Arthur J. Finkelstein, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, once described by CNN as “the stuff of Hollywood: A man who can topple even the most powerful foes, yet so secretive that few have ever seen him.”
Despite his lack of a public profile, Finkelstein is also a top Republican political consultant and veteran of GOP campaigns dating back to the Richard Nixon reelection campaign in 1972. Though both Jewish and gay, making him a member of two voting blocs that lean heavily Democratic, Finkelstein is credited as the messaging mastermind who turned the word “liberal” into political poison.
But Finkelstein has not confined his activities to the United States. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz gave his work for that country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credit for keeping Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition in power.
Finkelstein has also served for a decade as chief political strategist for Hungary’s Orban, who was one of the few foreign leaders to openly support Trump in last year’s presidential campaign and whose anti-immigrant stances echo Trump’s own.
Though Hungary has been a member of NATO since 1997, and also belongs to the European Union, Orban has aligned himself with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. During the period in which he has had Finkelstein as his top adviser, Orban has “managed to transform this small Central European country into a pale shadow of it’s former democratic self,” Göllner wrote.
(6) Here’s a bad pic of Finkelstein; Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán is on the right. Göllner says Orbán helped facilitate Trump-Putin ties. pic.twitter.com/AS26HMcrNM
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) April 22, 2017
Finkelstein and Orban’s top Hungarian consultant Arpad Habony formed a partnership in 2015, starting Danube Business Consulting Ltd., a political firm in London “close to the headquarters of Wikileaks,” Göllner stated.
“The Russian leakage of embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton, was coordinated through Budapest, and London, and was designed to lower Clinton’s trustworthiness at pre-planned moments during the campaign,” Göllner reported.
During his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last month, FBI Director James Comey stated that the Russian government passed the hacked Clinton campaign emails to Wikileaks through a “cutout,” or third party, which would allow Wikileaks to cover up the fact that the stolen documents did indeed come from Russia.
The Hungarian Free Press report also reveals that a top aide to Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Jeffrey D. Gordon, visited Hungary six times and praised Orbán as “brave leader who stands for common sense.”
Sessions himself met at least twice with Russian officials during last year’s campaign — and later lied under oath in his Senate confirmation hearings, denying that the meetings took place.
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