Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections

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The Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to increase political instability in the United States and to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by bolstering the candidacies of Donald J. Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that Russian leadership favored presidential candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" to harm Clinton's electoral chances and "undermine public faith in the US democratic process.

Quotes[edit]

  • Most everyone in the administration felt strongly about punishing the Russians- hard- after their 2016 interference. Trump had a different view. While he may not have colluded with Russia as a presidential candidate, at a minimum he cheered them on. "Russia, if you're listening," he bellowed at a campaign rally in July 2016, "I hope you're able to find the thirty thousand [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by the press." It was the first time in memory that a US presidential candidate urged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his opponent. The same day, Russian hackers attempted to gain access to Secretary Clinton's personal office, and in the following weeks, Trump was gleeful at the turmoil caused by Moscow's ongoing leaks of other stolen emails. After it became clear that the Kremlin was actively working to manipulate the election, Trump was nonetheless effusive in his praise for the dictator. "If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him," the candidate confessed to reporters. "I've already said, he really is very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing- the man has strong control over the country... But certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader." He relished Putin's mockery of his defeated opponent after the election, tweeting: "Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems: 'In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity.' So true!"
    • Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 164
  • The president's denial-turned-apathy to Moscow's actions is why America responded with the diplomatic equivalent of a whimper to one of the biggest foreign affronts to our democracy. Of all the failures of Trump's foreign policy, letting Russia off the hook is perhaps the most frustrating. The outgoing Obama administration imposed modest sanctions on Moscow, including expelling several dozen alleged Russian agents from the United States, but it left the rest to the incoming White House. Trump was reluctant to take further action that might offend Putin, with whom he hoped to develop a close working relationship. He hesitated to even raise the subject in conversations with the Russian leader, dumbfounding people on the inside. I remember when Congress sanctioned Russia in summer 2017. Representatives vented their anger over how little the administration had done to hold Russia accountable, so they took matters into their own hands and passed legislation punishing the country. Though he would later take credit for the sanctions in order to claim our administration had been unusually tough on Moscow, Trump in fact was furious. He felt Congress was getting in the way of his goal of a warm friendship with the Kremlin. Russia responded to the sanctions by kicking out hundreds of US embassy staff from their country and seizing US diplomatic compounds. President Trump's response was startling. "I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down on payroll," Trump told reporters about Putin's move, without a hint of irony. "And as far as I'm concerned, I'm very thankful that he let go a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll. There's no real reason for them to go back. So I greatly appreciate the fact that we've been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We'll save a lot of money."
    • Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 164-165
  • Trump's cavalier attitude toward the Russian security threat has had a predictable yet devastating consequence. Moscow has not been deterred from attacking American interests. It has been emboldened. They continue to take advantage of the United States, around the world and on our own soil. Former director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified in January 2019 that Russia was still sowing social, racial, and political discord in the United States through influence operations, and several months later, Robert Mueller said the same. "It wasn't a single attempt," he testified to Congress. "They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign." This should be a national scandal, a cause for outrage and action against the Russian government. Instead, it's being ignored where it should matter most- in the Oval Office. Reporters asked Trump about Mueller's assessment days later and quizzed him again on whether he'd pressed Putin on the topic. "You don't really believe this," he shot back. "Do you believe this? Okay, fine. We didn't talk about it." Then he boarded Marine One.
    • Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 167
  • Putin doesn't need to undermine democracy in the U.S. because first you have to have a democracy to undermine. The U.S. is a capitalist dictatorship with phony elections the majority don't participate in. I mean, we can't even get real choice beyond the two capitalist parties.
  • Whether or not Trump himself or anyone in his orbit personally colluded or conspired with the Russians about their interference is something Mueller will no doubt disclose at some point, but there remains one incontrovertible truth: In 2016, Russia, a hostile foreign adversary, attacked the United States of America. We know that they did it. We have proof. The F.B.I. is trying to hold people accountable for it. And yet Trump, the president whom the Constitution establishes as the commander in chief, has repeatedly waffled on whether Russia conducted the attack and has refused to forcefully rebuke them for it, let alone punish them for it. ... Instead, Trump has repeatedly attacked the investigation as a witch hunt.
  • Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies - what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.
  • [T]he simplistic narrative that basically imagines that a bunch of subliterate-in-English trolls posting mostly static and sort of absurd advertising could have influenced American public opinion to such an extent that it fundamentally changed American politics is ridiculous on the face of it. And the fact that we're sort of falling deeper and deeper into that vision of the story is a little nuts.
  • Syria is only part of a much larger problem. It is remarkable the extent to which Israeli concerns dominate those of the United States, which now has a foreign policy that often is not even remotely connected to actual U.S. interests. Congress and the Special Counsel are investigating Russia’s alleged interference in America’s political system while looking the other way when Israel operates aggressively in the open and does much more damage. Netanyahu and his crew of unsavory cutthroats are hardly ever cited for their malignant influence over America’s political class and media. Bomb Syria? Sure. After all, it’s good for Israel.
  • US hypocrisy in plain sight. The same democratic party outraged over alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election is now openly intervening in the affairs of Venezuela, supporting regime change and backing a self-proclaimed 'interim president'.
  • The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian “interference” rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d’état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime....
  • Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government's effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. And... this deserves the attention of every American.

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