On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. Under normal circumstances, this would be a glorious occasion. But in Mr. Trump’s inaugural swearing in, there will be concerns about the legitimacy of his Presidency. The unclassified reports of America’s leading intelligence agencies unequivocally state that President Vladimir Putin and Russian apparatchik interfered in America’s democratic process of selecting a President. From the intelligence gathered, the Russian government sought to deploy its cyber operations to denigrate the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and to favor Donald Trump.
Espionage is as old as the nation-state but cyber espionage is only decades old. Nations like the United States, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea use cyber espionage to obtain commercial secrets, military information and to furnish decision-makers with a better understanding of adversaries. Cyber espionage can be used to extract information but it can also be weaponized to create chaos in electrical grids or another country’s financial system. In the case of the United States’ Presidential election, Russia put to work its intelligence apparatus to extrapolate data from the Democratic National Committee network and subsequently the private e-mails of John Podestu, the Chairman if Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Presidency 2016.
The term “hacking” is used inappropriately. The use of cyber espionage and the weaponization of the data is a serious criminal activity. What is equally outrageous is that the stolen property was used by mainstream media as a normal cause of events. The criminal activity was sanitized by conventional media outlets’ insatiable appetite for breaking news irrespective of how it is obtained.
The report of the Director of National Intelligence uncovered information how the illegally obtained e-mails were leaked to the American population to undermine Clinton’s candidacy. Russian Television (RT) global network and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, collaborated to damage the Presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton and from becoming the first female President of the United States.
The narrative at this stage is quite intriguing and conspiratorial. The Russian cyber apparatus used third parties to do their dirty work. Guccifer 2.0 and D.C. Leaks served as an outlet for the massive data stolen and these third parties that would serve as a conduit to send the reams of data to Wikileaks which had the capacity to disseminate the information all over the globe. The information would be released on a daily basis during the homestretch of the Presidential election. For example, Julian Assange released e-mails right before the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia that revealed that Debbie Wasserman Schulze, as the Chair of the DNC, favored Hillary Clinton for the Party’s nomination over Bernie Sanders. That revelation made it more difficult to bridge the Clinton-Sanders divide.
During this period, Assange appeared a number of times on RT Television and flatly denied that the information leaked was not obtained from Russian intelligence. But the RT Television-Assange collaboration went beyond that denial. Assange gave interviews on RT Television making the case that he would release e-mails that would surely lead to her arrest and conviction. He sat for interviews in which he demagogically argued that the same Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain were responsible for funding the Islamic extremist organization, ISIS, were also funding the Clinton foundation. The headline falsely conveyed that ISIS and Hillary Clinton were strange bedfellows, benefitting from the same funding sources.
In the interviews on RT Television, Assange mentioned that when Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State that is when Saudi Arabia purchased the largest arms deal with the United States. Deals of that kind are not made solely by the Secretary of State but by the Secretary of Defense, other Cabinet officials and most of all by the President of the Unites States.
Assange also blamed Clinton for the overthrow of the Quadaffi Regime and how that was a factor in the refugee crisis in North Africa and Syria. Hillary Clinton favored America’s involvement in the fall of Quadaffi but neither America nor Clinton was instrumental in the uprising in Benghazi and it was European powers that were in the vanguard of toppling Quadaffi.
RT Television also ran news stories that found their way into social media regarding the physical and mental health of Hillary Clinton. This propaganda media organ of the Russian government was spreading fake news. The DNI Report chronicles that RT Television of all the media outlets, had millions of viewers on You Tube. They had an effective platform to spread falsehoods.
The Russian intelligence agencies, RT Television, Julian Assange and Wikileaks onslaught on Hillary Clinton’s character was non-stop. The Russian government favored Donald Trump and they did everything in their power to discredit Hillary Clinton.
What is remarkable is how the Trump Campaign tended to dovetail the Russian propaganda campaign. The DNI Report is careful in not saying that Trump won the Presidency because of Russian intervention. But an Independent Non-Partisan Commission cannot leave any stone unturned and must examine if there were collaboration between the nefarious Russian - RT- Assange links and the Trump campaign.
Trump ran the crudest, the most reckless, and the most demagogic Presidential campaign in recent American history. Like Assange and RT Television, he tried to criminalize Hillary Clinton. Trump used the stolen material on the campaign trail and ran the Assange notion if Clinton won the Presidency, she would be “locked up”. He led the chants at his rallies to “lock her up”. He peddled the falsehoods about her failing health. Trump ran with the Russian propaganda that American elections were not democratic and like Assange made the case that Clinton was at the hub of Wall Street corruption.
Trump has bought into the worldview that there is a need for the forging of populist alliance with Putin. Putin is the leader of this new international alliance that is aiming at undermining liberal democracy. The entire American foreign establishment is wary of Putin and Russia’s aggression on the world stage. Trump in his narcissistic naiveté is looking to embrace the Russian Bear that Senator John McCain calls the butcher.
Donald Trump was not the originator of the birther movement. That falsehood was started by an Attorney in California and right wing bloggers but he became the prominent spokesman for the wretched birther movement. That was just one of the falsehoods aimed at sabotaging President Obama’s administration. He was supposedly a Muslim, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But he is demitting office with over fifty percent approval rating. Trump is beginning his Presidency in a state of de-legitimacy. The American people had feared that he did not have the experience, the knowledge, the temperament or the sophistication to fulfill the demanding needs of the Oval Office. In the transition period and with the galore of tweets, Trump seems determined to prove to the American people that they are right.