The new President has been caught in a very nasty web of deceit that is of his own making. The rest of the country isn’t as eager as he is to forgive and forget his likely collusion with the Russians, which may have stolen the election from Hillary Clinton, and definitely subverted our democracy. The administration continues to vehemently deny any complicity, denouncing reports of Russian collusion as “fake news” and “a scam”. It is clear that the man who built an entire empire on lying, scamming, and engaging in general brazen debauchery, should not be simply taken at his word. It is necessary to outline and illuminate what is known about the new President and the Russians, and why Putin picked his puppet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin actively ordered the hacking of the 2016 Presidential election to weaken the presidency of Hillary Clinton, if not to help the Republican candidate defeat her. Although no concrete evidence has yet been made public directly connecting the President to these efforts, his consistent refusal to even admit the possibility of the Russians hacking our election is suspect. The unanimous conclusion by 17 United States intelligence agencies was that this interference took place. Senator John McCain called for hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee three days into the new 115th Congress because,
“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attack on our nation.”
Mr. Putin has a history of using the internet for his personal political purposes. When Putin ran for a third term as President in 2012, many believed that it violated the spirit if not the letter of the Russian constitution, which prevented three consecutive terms. Soon after his election, the Internet was suddenly flooded with a virtual army of pro-Putin trolls working in teams all over the Internet, spreading propaganda favoring Russia and the ruthless former KGB operative. Long before our new President met and fell in love withTwitter, Russia had distinguished itself with its troll factories, known both inside and outside Russia. The reports about covert pro-Putin propagandists taking over social media go back as far as 2003, just before his first re-election as Russian President. The Kremlin-backed youth movement Nashi was exposed in 2012 , for paying people to comment on blogs.
Most of what is now known about the Kremlin trolling operations, comes from a series of disclosures in 2014 and 2015, concerning the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company commonly referred to as “Internet Research”. With an estimated annual budget of $10 million dollars, paying some 600 people across Russia, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html many in cash, this is believed to be one of several firms training then deploying trolls worldwide to smear Putin’s enemies, while promoting Russian geopolitical goals.
Apparently Putin has the view that the best defense is a good offense, as he turned his army of paid trolls onto Hillary Clinton, because of an apparent and intense hatred of her arising early in 2009 . Then, Clinton, the new Secretary of State, was given the job of overseeing the Obama administration’s “Russian reset” policy. The new Obama administration believed that Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, more than ten years younger than Putin, without Putin’s history as a Soviet hardliner, might be more open than his predecessor to the establishment of an era of cooperation and mutual benefit that previously did not exist. There was a window of successful cooperation between the United States and Russia with the 2011 New Start Agreement, reducing and limiting the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the agreement allowing the use of Russian airspace to supply US troops in Afghanistan. This new cooperative era changed, because of Republican opposition to the Obama Administration and because of the ousting of Medvedev as the Russian President in 2012.
President Obama’s 2009 abandonment of the previous Bush administration plan to deploy a Eastern European missile defense shield, which had been viewed by Russia as a threat, in exchange for Russia’s help in preventing Iranians from developing long range missiles, was criticized by Republicans. The move was called reckless, and an irresponsible gift to Russia. This also was the beginning of right wing media attacks against Secretary of State Clinton, for any and all complaints about the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. Of course ,the Obama Administration along with six other countries, including Russia, eventually forged an agreement with Iran to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the Conservative love affair with Medvedev’s successor, Vladimir Putin, the “Lion of Christianity”, began.
Putin’s decision to run for a third term as Russia’s President in December of 2011 was wildly unpopular. It inspired massive protests against him, with many mobilized and calling for his resignation, following his election viewed by many as rigged. The possibility of a coming revolution was widely reported and Putin found a perfect foil, blaming Secretary Clinton, whom he accused of intervening in Russian elections. The Obama Administration’s “Russian Reset” was over, and Secretary Clinton would carry the blame courtesy of Vladimir Putin and the cooperation of the right wing noise media machine.
Secretary Clinton expressed her concerns over the 2011 Russian Parliamentary elections as being suspect, possibly rigged by Putin, while Putin accused Secretary Clinton of orchestrating Russian protests concerning those elections. Perhaps eerily foreshadowing the events of 2016, Putin was also been accused of rigging his 2012 election. The Russian leader’s response was to point angrily at Clinton, who at the time had issued a statement both critical and skeptical of the election’s results.
“She set the tone for some of our public figures inside the country, sent a signal to them. They heard this signal and launched active work with the U.S. State Department’s support.”
And so the stage was set for today’s conflict between Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Hillary Clinton in this past American election, with Putin putting his thumbs on the scale in order to harm, if not defeat, his nemesis by any means necessary. This included turning the 2016 Republican presidential nominee into his puppet. Perhaps not in his wildest dreams did Putin think that he could prevent Secretary Clinton from winning the presidency, instead aiming to weaken her and the United States. Considering the language, the tone, the tactics, and the trolls employed by Putin directed towards the United States and during Russian elections past, there is no doubt that Putin backed, helped, and preferred her opponent, who has now become the 45th President of the United States. We now know why Putin picked his puppet.