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Russian Meddling's Back

“They’re “ B AA CK”—Russian Interference In Campaign 2018 August 26, 2018

Russia’s Vladimir Putin sure has a lot of U.S. “friends in high places,” GOP ones. Demagogue Donald, of course, heads this list and owes Vlad one “y uu ge” wet kiss. Since the 2016 election, all of our intelligence agencies have stated that Russia meddled in that campaign to sow discord in our democracy, attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and aid Donald Trump. In 2/2018 indictments arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, it was suggested that Russia instigated a coordinated campaign of “information warfare” to assist Donald’s campaign. Its targets were not limited solely to Hillary. They included the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Committee (DCCC), and various other liberal groups (huffingtonpost.com, Nelson, 8/20/16). According to another 7/13/2018 Mueller indictment, Russian officials, using the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0, released hundreds of unflattering internal documents about FL Democratic candidates running for Congress. Two of them were Annette Taddeo, now a state Senator, and former Dem. Cong. Joe Garcia. Taddeo lost her primary to Garcia and Garcia lost to GOP Cong. Carlos Curbelo in 11/2016. The 7/2018 indictment stated that Guccifer “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for U.S. Congress” on 8/15/2016. This was the same day that the stolen DCCC documents related to five FL congressional campaigns and research files on seven FL Democratic candidates were released to the public by the hackers. Guccifer hackers later released more documents to congressional races in other states (miamiherald.com, Daugherty, 7/13/18). On 7/27/2016, Donald himself made the infamous comment, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails (of Hillary’s) that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” According to Mueller’s indictments, Russian hackers began to spearfish Clinton campaign officials to gain access to their private digital information that very evening (huffingtonpost.com, Nelson, 8/20/18). U.S. Friends of Russia (FOR) in high places indeed.

And there are other high FOR in the GOP. A month before Trump won the nomination, one of his closest allies, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, made an explosive comment in a private conversation to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill. McCarthy stated, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Rohrabacher, a GOP Congressman from Huntington Beach CA, has been known for a long time as a strong defender of Putin and Russia. Some GOPers laughed at this comment. House Speaker Paul Ryan then told them to keep this conversation private saying, “No leaks … This is how we know we’re a real family here.” This conversation remained secret for nearly a year. Some GOPers called McCarthy’s remarks “a failed attempt at humor (Wash. Post, 7/17/17, Entous).” Yes, a “joke” by the GOP Russian collusion “family.” Again, U.S. GOP FOR in high places.

And don’t think for one minute that Russian meddling to help Trump and his GOP buddies will not happen again. Facebook, after rightful criticism of its failure to stop Russian meddling in 2016, has already removed hundreds of pages and fake accounts designed to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections. The Russians have been shown to have put up a fake account calling for abolishing ICE, the immigration agency, a matter that would pit Democratic candidates against each other and play right into Trump and the GOP’s hands (See NY Times, Fandos & Roose, 7/31/18). MO Dem. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is in a very tight 2018 re-election race, and NH Dem. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, an outspoken Kremlin critic, revealed that they had recently been targets of unsuccessful hacking attempts (huffingtonpost.com, Bobic, 8/01/18). Microsoft has just stated that part of an operation linked to Russian military intelligence was targeting the U.S. Senate and some conservative think tanks who remain hostile to Putin. Fortunately, these attempts were thwarted, but bet on the Russians keeping this up with even more sophisticated techniques (See CNN 8/21/18).

Prime FOR (Friend of Russia) Donald and most of his GOP lackeys in Congress could care less. On 8/01/2018, the GOP-controlled Senate rejected a bill to direct another $250 million to election security ahead of the 11/2018 midterms (huffingtonpost.com, Bobic, 8/01/18). To many GOPers, even in down-state races, this whole Russian meddling issue remains a joke. However, at the same time, they wouldn’t mind Russia “rushing” to their aid in their campaigns (pun intended). And look at what Trump “truth’s not truth” Rudy Giuliani said, “it’s perfectly legal to get dirt on your opponents from anyone.” (Message to Rudy, getting info on domestic politics from foreign countries, and certainly adversarial ones like Russia, is illegal).

GOP AZ Sen. John McCain (81), who passed away on 8/25/2018 after a year-long fight with brain cancer, was one of the few remaining GOPers to take the threat of Russian meddling in our 2016 election seriously. McCain put country over party, unlike most of his fellow “Team Red” colleagues. In a 6/29/2017 editorial in USA Today, McCain stated, “We cannot treat Russia’s interference in our 2016 election as an isolated incident.” He added, “We have to stop looking at this through the warped lens of politics and see this attack on our democracy for what it is: an attempt by Putin to weaken the U.S…. and undermine confidence in Western values.” McCain warned that “it won’t be long before Putin would take interest in another American election…to achieve his dark and divisive goals.”

In 7/2018, Dan Coats, a former GOP Senator, now the Director of National Intelligence, warned that Russian interference remains an active threat in the Nov. mid-term elections. In Coats’ words, “The warning lights are blinking red again (nytimes.com, Fandos & Roose, 7/31/18).”

McCain’s and Coats’ warnings about Russian meddling in Campaign- 2018 and other future U.S. elections must not be ignored. All of us must be on our guard, because Trump and his GOP lackeys certainly will not. The health of our democracy depends on our vigilance.