Investigate Russian Links

 

December 19, 2016



Ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russians have not been friends of the United States. We were only allies during World War II in order to defeat the Axis powers. Since that time we have been archenemies, coming close to nuclear conflict during the Cuban Missile Crisis or fighting proxy wars throughout the world. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week, “The Russians are not our friends.”

It is within this historical backdrop that Americans should pay heed to attempts by Russian operatives to hack into U.S. government and private emails, as well as the number of close ties Russians have established with nominees of President-elect Donald Trump and Trump’s businesses.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has exhibited a soft line toward Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Trump has made statements indicating less than strong support for NATO, ambivalence toward Russian military intervention in the Crimea and admiration of Putin. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov even admitted to having conversations with the Trump campaign prior to the November election. And in 2008 Trump’s son, Donald Jr. said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Trump’s soft stance, plus the family’s large number of business dealings in Russia should raise some red flags.


The dubious nature of relations also extends to some of Trump’s choices for high-level government positions. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has a close relationship with Putin, who presented Tillerson with the Order of Friendship. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been nominated to be national security advisor attended a banquet in Moscow to honor the Russia’s propaganda TV channel.

On top of all of these personal relations with senior Russian officials is the news that the Russians have successfully hacked into private, organizational and government email accounts. The hacks range from attacks on the unclassified email system at the Pentagon to the Democratic National Committee and Rep. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Instead of paying heed to the leaders of our intelligence agencies, Trump has questioned the veracity of their claims, stating that intelligence officials “have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody.”

But they do. Graham said the FBI “pointed us to the fact that the Russians did it.”

The heads of three intelligence agencies have agreed the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections. Last week CIA Director John Brennan said, “I met separately with (Director) FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election. “


Those attacks were apparently directed or at least known about by Putin. That should not be surprising. Under Russia’s authoritarian regime, the government does not take any significant action without Putin’s approval.

These cyber-attacks are nothing new. According to Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SCCI), the committee “has focused a great deal of attention in recent years… on Russia’s behavior around the world.” And Sen. Graham said, “Russia is trying to break the backs of democracies – and democratic movements – all over the world.”

And Burr had made it clear that people in the intelligence agencies making these statements are above politics, stating last week that they are “hard-working, patriotic Americans “ who care deeply about their country” and “they check politics at the office door and focus on their mission.”

The bottom line is there is ample evidence Russians attempted to interfere in our elections, and that the candidate who won has, through both his own words and recent nominees, has taken one of the most deferential, if not friendly, stances toward Russia in recent history. Hacking is a crime and crimes must be investigated. It is clearly time to investigate any attempts by Russia to influence our politics and decisions with the intent to not only to find out who the culprits are so that we can act accordingly but also so that we can minimize the chance of such attacks in the future.


To ignore those attacks and to not investigate them fully would be a miscarriage of justice and an even greater threat to our democracy.

 
 

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