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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Moyers and Winship: The Cost of Putin’s Meddling in Our Elections

In their post, “Trumped by Putin: There are lots of reasons why Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won, but the hacking of our election by Russia’s Vladimir Putin is the most frightening” Michael Winship and Bill Moyers sound an alarm at Moyers & Company, which the Electoral College ought to consider before casting their votes:

As we all know, The Washington Post and The New York Times recently reported just how deeply Russian hackers invaded the computers of the Democratic Party, a move intended to confuse voters with leaked excerpts of emails and other documents and thus throw a monkey wrench into the election. Now The Post reports that the CIA believes the Russian meddling was deliberately intended to help sway the vote in Trump’s favor. And NBC News says it was Putin himself who “personally directed” those leaks

….It is, in the words of former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who briefed George W. Bush on 9/11 but supported Hillary Clinton this year, “an attack on our very democracy. It’s an attack on who we are as a people. A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.”

Nancy LeTourneau notes at Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog, “To understand what is happening here, it is important to reject the old Cold War frame about a contest between capitalism and communism. Russia has long since ceased to be a country built on the teachings of Karl Marx and has evolved into a right-wing ethno-nationalist plutocracy.”

So why did Putin do it? The most important reason, accoding to Michael McFaul, the former American ambassador to Russia: “He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump’s views on Russia.” According to former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson it may be “the largest intelligence coup since the cracking of the Enigma code during World War II.” Further, Moyers and Winship write:

Did Trump or members of his staff know what was going on? Probably. Remember that Trump’s first campaign manager Paul Manafort — the “King of K Street” lobbyists — had pro-Russian factions as clients; his name with multimillion amounts beside it was found in a log of financial transactions after he had helped Putin’s friends in the Ukraine. When word began to spread of these ties, Manafort left the campaign. He is now back in Trump’s graces and, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, positioned to reap the  harvest of his relationship with Trump and his merry band of crony capitalists. It could be most revealing to hear what Manafort would say, under oath, about his intercession between Trump and Putin.

And just how extensive are our president-elect’s ties to Russian oligarchs? How much does he owe Russian banks? Now we may know more exactly why Trump has refused to release his tax returns; they could be full of clues about his foreign creditors. We’d learn more if he’d divest his business interests, too, but he won’t. We do know that Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets… We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” And there’s more to come as Putin and Trump mix and mingle Russian oligarchs with American plutocrats.

“Not only does this increasingly seem like yet another step in Putin’s worldwide subversion of liberal democratic beliefs and Trump’s desire to enrich his family and cronies by surrounding himself with multimillionaires and billionaires known for their predatory appetites,” write Moyers and Winship, “it is one more step to a planet dominated by international oligarchs and kleptocrats…”

These are sobering insights to add to the fact that Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes for President than did Trump. On Monday the electors have a patriotic duty to give them serious consideration before deciding whether or not they want to become accomplices to thwarting the will of the people.

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