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(51,852 posts)
Sun May 19, 2024, 03:19 PM May 19

David Corn: Here Come the Russians, Again [View all]


Sometimes I’d rather not be right. In January, reacting to Donald Trump affectionately referring to the trio of tyrants Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un as “very fine people,” I wrote that two constants in the Trump Era are his affection for murderous authoritarians and Russian efforts to screw with American politics. The former is well-known, the latter, less recognized. Moscow mounted information warfare operations to boost Trump during both the 2016 election—most notably, the hack-and-leak attack in which Russian cyber-operatives swiped Democratic emails and documents and WikiLeaks released them—and the 2020 election, when Russian intelligence operatives spread disinformation about Joe and Hunter Biden and Ukraine. The first op helped the Putin-friendly Trump reach the White House; the second failed to keep him in office, but it had the side-benefit of fueling the House Republicans’ baseless (and now fizzling) impeachment crusade against President Biden. Putin went one for two.

I noted in that Our Land issue: “t's a good bet that Putin this year will try once again to mess in an American election… [As Putin] continues to commit horrendous war crimes in Ukraine, he has even more reason to clandestinely boost Trump and win the rubber match.” At long last, official warnings have arrived.

On Wednesday, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia remains “the most active foreign threat to our elections.” She noted that the Kremlin’s “goals in such influence operations tend to include eroding trust in US democratic institutions, exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the United States, and degrading Western support to Ukraine." All of this, obviously, would be to Trump’s benefit. She pointed out that artificial intelligence and deepfakes will presumably be deployed in this effort, and she cited China and Iran as other threats.

Russia’s latest attack on the United States is already underway. As the Associated Press reported in March:

Russian state media and online accounts tied to the Kremlin have spread and amplified misleading and incendiary content about US immigration and border security. The campaign seems crafted to stoke outrage and polarization before the 2024 election for the White House, and experts who study Russian disinformation say Americans can expect more to come as Putin looks to weaken support for Ukraine and cut off a vital supply of aid.

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