The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Russian interference in the 2016 election is now out, and it is a remarkable read, and I have only hit highlights.
Yes, you knew Russia “assisted” the Trump campaign in 2016, and you at least intuited most of the details. But, your thoughts probably centered upon the impact Russia had against Hillary. You were not thinking cynically, or clinically, enough. You must go back further.
The Russians didn’t just work to beat back Team Hillary, but also Team Jeb Bush, Cruz and Rubio. Russia wanted Trump, not just “any Republican,” and they wanted him from the very beginning. Thus, when it did come time to defeating Hillary, the Russians weren’t running some Beta test, they’d had “Propaganda U.S. Presidential Election 101” down for near a full year.
That this is the “Senate” Committee makes the document even more irrefutable to … well, Republicans, since they run the committee. One wonders if they appreciate the irony, and tragedy.
The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction ofthe Kremlin. The Committee found that the IRA targeted not only Hillary Clinton, but also Republican candidates during the presidential primaries. For example, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were targeted and denigrated, as was Jeb Bush.
During the primary period, Russia’s top goal was to disabuse the American public of the belief that Trump’s candidacy was a “joke,” that Trump was someone unworthy of the office. To that end, Russia chose to attack our national pressure points, using social media to enflame those topics that typically call for cooler, mature heads. Enter Trump:
The IRA’s influence operatives coordinated across these Twitter account classifications to attack and defend both sides of socially divisive issues, particularly with respect to race relations and cultural divisions. An example of the IRA’s ability to capitalize on both sides of a public debate can be found in the issue of NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality and racism. Twitter accounts tied to the IRA from both the left and right side of the ideological spectrum used the topic to channel inflammatory content toward targeted, and ideologically like-minded, audiences.
Recall Trump’s words on the NFL protests? Trump went so far as to call Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” during one rally and said any player who did not stand for the anthem should be fired. Recall Trump telling police officers to not be so “gentle” with suspects’ heads as they get in the car? Maybe “bump it” a bit? Yes. Both the “son of a bitch” quote and the “hold their heads” quote came only after Trump won the presidency. Trump followed upon a road Russian already paved. Trump keeps driving along even now, as we know.
It is tragic and infuriating that Trump continues to get away with “No collusion …” and “FISA-gate” as the issues that throw his base into a frenzy. William Barr travels the world attempting to delegitimize “Russian interference in 2016,” while investigating the investigators, speaking to people in Italy about Australia. All happening while, without any fanfare, the Republican Senate just released a document verifying that Russians not only rolled Hillary, but disposed of the campaigns of some of the actual Republicans sitting in that Senate today, all to get to the preferred Russian candidate into the oval office.
I don’t see a single Republican Senator on TV talking about their report, no one stating that perhaps the Russians had a reason for wanting Trump as badly as they did, and perhaps they ought to assist in getting to the bottom of it all.
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