The FBI and US officials are coming to a pretty glaring realization. Russia may be trying to control US politics through its standard methods and it seems that they may have decided to aid Donald Trump in his quest to take the White House.
The more evidence that comes in, the more likely it appears that Russia had every intention of undermining US democracy and aiding Donald Trump with their use of WikiLeaks to distribute hacked emails last weekend on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. There is little doubt that the USA would be more supportive of Russia’s agenda with Trump at the helm, and quite a lot of evidence that the leak of DNC sensitive information was timed purposefully to assist Trump in defeating his Democratic rival.
According to the Daily Beast:
The theory that Moscow orchestrated the leaks to help Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and practically called for the end of NATO, is fast gaining currency within the Obama administration because of the timing of the leaks and Trump’s own connections to the Russian government, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and developing quickly.
The leaks show a DNC that was not impartial, as the rules require, and they appear quite damaging on that issue. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC has announced her resignation from that position after the leaks. The emails showed that some of the members of the DNC were willing to bring attacks on Sanders regarding his religion, or lack of it, though such effort never actually manifested.
David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast:
The release of emails just as the Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign.
There are also likely to be more leaks, and if the timing of this release is any indication, they are going to be timed and groomed for the maximum damage to the Democrats and, conversely, the maximum aid to Donald Trump, (whose threat to not protect our NATO allies from Russia if they don’t pay up what he thinks they owe us, just makes that look even worse). This leak hurt already strained relationships in the Democratic party, especially when it comes to Bernie Sanders voters who Clinton needs to win the presidency.
However, the person that stands to gain most from not only the timing but also the content chosen for what is likely only the first leak is Donald Trump, not Bernie Sanders. The two hacker groups that attacked the DNC are affiliated with the Russian government and they have had access to the information for several months — but WikiLeaks released selected information via their website on the weekend before the Democratic convention.
According to the NYT:
In mid-June the company announced that the intruders [hackers in the DNC server] appeared to include a group it had previously identified by the name “Cozy Bear” or “APT 29” and been inside the committee’s servers for a year. A second group, “Fancy Bear,” also called “APT 28,” came into the system in April. It appears to be operated by the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence service, according to federal investigators and private cybersecurity firms. The first group is particularly well known to the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence unit, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies. It was identified by federal investigators as the likely culprit behind years of intrusions into the State Department and White House unclassified computer system.
Trump himself is well known as someone that genuinely likes and respects the Russian president, who has somehow also become something of a cult hero to the extreme right wing so Trump has never been shy about sharing his feelings. The feeling is mutual, too, as Putin has praised Trump publicly.
Carter Page, a Trump adviser, has criticized America “often hypocritical focus on democratization,” while in Moscow. Paul Manafort, Trump’s new campaign manager, was an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych who is a former Ukrainian president who now lives in Russia after being ousted due to his deep devotion to Moscow and ties to the Russian leader.
From the NYT:
Mr. Manafort was one of several American advisers to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine until he was forced out of office two years ago. Mr. Yanukovych was a key Putin ally who is now in exile in Russia.
These aren’t the only two Trump staffers with a Russian connection either, most concerning is that Trump’s top National Security Adviser is also on this list.
From the Daily Beast:
One of Trump’s top national security advisers, retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, sat with Putin at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kremlin-backed media network RT and was paid to give a speech at the event; Flynn later retweeted an anti-Semitic message that called into question any Kremlin-Trump link.
The FBI has confirmed they are investigating a Russia-DNC hack link, according to CNN, saying “a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously, and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
Top officials are saying that this leak looks like yet another part of a broader plot to affect US politics, and fits Russia’s previous attempts to gather intelligence through cyber-crime. Russia has been implicated in several other attempts to enter US government servers and gather information. Though the motivation of this attack, and what honestly appear to be “weaponized” releases of specific information at key moments all make this look more and more like Putin has decided to try to put his little buddy Trump into office.
Featured image via Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images