Rebecca Solnit “It’s time to confront the Trump-Putin network” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/02/time-to-confront-trump-putin-network
In 2014, the Putin regime invaded Ukraine’s Crimea. In 2016, the same regime invaded the United States. The former took place as a conventional military operation; the latter was a spectacular case of cyberwarfare, including disinformation that it was happening at all and promulgation of a lot of talking points still devoutly repeated by many. It was a vast social-media influencing project that took many forms as it sought to sow discord and confusion, even attempting to dissuade Black voters from voting.
Additionally, Russian intelligence targeted voter rolls in all 50 states, which is not thought to have had consequences, but demonstrated the reach and ambition of online interference. This weekend, British investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr*2 said on Twitter, “We failed to acknowledge Russia had staged a military attack on the West. We called it ‘meddling.’ We used words like ‘interference.’ It wasn’t. It was warfare. We’ve been under military attack for eight years now.”
As she notes, Putin’s minions were not only directing their attention to the United States, and included pro-Brexit efforts and support for France’s far-right racist National Front party*3. The US interference – you could call it cyberwarfare, or informational invasion – took many forms. (...)
In her 2019 testimony to House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, former National Security Agency staffer Fiona Hill declared, “Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified. The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart; truth is questioned; our highly professional expert career Foreign Service is being undermined. US support for Ukraine, which continues to face armed aggression, is being politicized. President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter US foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance.”
The assertions of interference were compelling all along. On 7 October 2016, US intelligence agencies released a bombshell press release declaring “The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” In one of the weirdest days in US political history, the Access Hollywood tape of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women was released half an hour later, and half an hour after that, “WikiLeaks began tweeting links to emails hacked from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.” WikiLeaks is thought to have gotten its material from the Russian intelligence agency GRU; longtime Republican operative and Trump ally Roger Stone appears to have been a liaison between WikiLeaks and the Trump team.
On 30 October 2016, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put out a furious letter to then-FBI director James Comey, charging “it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.” He demanded, unsuccessfully, that Comey publicize this information. On 31 October, Obama called Putin on the nuclear risk reductions hotline to demand he stop this interference, but the public didn’t know about this until after Trump had lost the popular vote but won the electoral college.
Of course the most striking role of the Russian government in the 2016 US election was its many, many ties with the Trump campaign, including with Trump himself, who spent the campaign and the four years of his presidency groveling before Putin, denying the reality of Russian interference, and changing first the Republican platform and then US policy to serve Putin’s agendas. This included cutting support for Ukraine against Russia out of the Republican platform when he won the primary, considerable animosity toward Nato, and ultimately trying to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in 2019 by withholding military aid while demanding he offer confirmation of a Russian conspiracy theory blaming Ukraine rather than Russia for 2016 election interference.
A stunning number of Trump’s closest associates had deep ties to the Russian government. They included Paul Manafort, who during his years in Ukraine worked to build Russian influence there and served as a consultant to the Kremlin-backed Ukrainian president who was driven out of the country – and into Russia by popular protest in 2014 (the Russian line is that this was an illegitimate coup and thus a justification for invasion is still widely repeated). Manafort was, during his time in the campaign, sharing data with Russian intelligence agent Konstantin V Kilimnik, while campaign advisor Jeff Sessions was sharing information with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Manafort, Donald Trump Jr and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner held an illegal meeting in Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked lawyer on 9 June 2016, where they were promised damaging material on the Clinton campaign.
After being seated next to Putin while being paid to speak at a dinner celebrating RT, Russia’s news propaganda outlet, Michael Flynn briefly became Trump’s national security advisor. He was soon was fired for lying to White House officials and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Jared Kushner allegedly directed him to make those contacts and as the Washington Post reported in May 2017, “Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.” The Guardian reported the same year that “Donald Trump Jr has been forced to release damning emails that reveal he eagerly embraced what he was told was a Russian government attempt to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.”*7
*1:See Dylan Stableford “White House spokesman calls Trump and Putin 'two nauseating, fearful pigs who hate what America stands for'” https://news.yahoo.com/white-house-trump-putin-fearful-pigs-who-hate-what-america-stands-for-183236813.html
*3:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130520/1368976560 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130523/1369282829 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141017/1413512807 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150209/1423495421 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160624/1466786481 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20161110/1478789303 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20170131/1485829465 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20170228/1488248855 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20170424/1493047107 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20170508/1494251918 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/2021/10/23/154013 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/2021/10/25/140525
*4:See also https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20101208/1291778596 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20110104/1294152904 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20110111/1294672886 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20110508/1304788296 https://sumita-m.hatenadiary.com/entry/20160915/1473959248
*5:See eg. Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein “What Roger Stone's trial revealed about Donald Trump and WikiLeaks” https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/12/roger-stone-trial-donald-trump-wikileaks-070368
*6:https://twitter.com/PaulManafort See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Manafort https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%9D%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AB%E3%83%BB%E3%83%9E%E3%83%8A%E3%83%95%E3%82%A9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%88
*7:David Smith and Sabrina Siddiqui “'I love it': Donald Trump Jr posts emails from Russia offering material on Clinton” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/11/donald-trump-jr-email-chain-russia-hillary-clinton