With the allegations of Donald Trump’s affiliation with Vladimir Putin reaching new heights after his recent meeting with Russia’s President, a look back at the genesis of the “Russian involvement” in the 2016 American presidential election and who was really responsible for rigging the election process is certainly timely.
Let’s start by looking at this video from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a meeting that was held in April 2017 to look at Russia’s alleged interference in America’s democracy. As background, in case you were not aware, the Center touts itself as an independent, nonpartisan policy and advocacy organization, however, its current leader, Neera Tanden worked for both the Obama and Clinton Administrations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Since it is highly unlikely that any of my readers will sit through the entire hour-long event, I would ask that you go to the 27 minute 55 second mark where you will hear and exchange with Ms. Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s Communications Director for her 2016 presidential campaign:
Question: “You wrote about how our response, how the worst outcome, the best outcome for Putin and the worst outcome for us is apathy, that we end up being “it’s just too much, we don’t care because what’s happened is a threat to our republic not just a threat to one political party ord one candidate. Can you take us a little inside to the moment to what was actually going on in the late summer, early fall?”
But then we go back to Brooklyn and hear from the — mostly our sources were other intelligence, with the press that work in the intelligence sphere, and that’s where we heard things and that’s where we learned of the dossier and the other story lines that were swirling about; and just trying to process, how do we … And along the way the administration during the summer started confirming different pieces of what they were concerned Russia was doing. And how do you weave that story line into this fight we were trying to have with Donald Trump on the campaign trail? And that was a really hard thing because we were caught in a Catch-22. People didn’t care about Russia because they’d never heard anybody talk about it. So, in order to make it an issue, Hillary Clinton needed to talk about it but then if she was talking about that, she’s not talking about the economy, she’s not hitting Trump on something that we knew voters found compelling.
And we did finally get to the point on October 7, when the administration came out with a very stunning…as somebody who worked in both the Obama and Clinton Administrations I appreciated how stunning it was for both the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence to put out a statement – a long statement – that said with high confidence that Russia was interfering in the election and they were also directing the timing of the leaks. And it named the institutions – even named WikiLeaks, dcleaks, and Guccifer – as being Russian-led, and how stunning that was to be that certain and that public and that same day, the Access Hollywood tape came out and that same day, WikiLeaks, I don’t believe coincidentally, started their leaks of John Podesta’s emails…” (my bold)
Here is the Center for American Progress Action Fund video in its entirety:
Now, let’s look at what Ms. Palmieri wrote in a post-election perspective on March 24, 2017 entitled “The Clinton campaign warned you about Russia. But nobody listened to us” as published in the Washington Post:
“But the sheer spectacle of Trump kept the Russia allegations from getting the attention they would have had with any previous candidate. His unconventional campaign had so disrupted the press-political ecosystem that no one could fathom or absorb that — in addition to all the drama they saw on stage — Russia may have been conspiring with Trump or his allies behind the scenes to win the election for him. Compared with the lawsuits women were filing against Trump for alleged assault or his 3 a.m. tweets attacking a former Miss Universe, the details of who hacked whom seemed less interesting and more complicated. And because nearly everyone was sure that Clinton would win, and that she therefore needed more watchdogging, reporters and analysts were faster to jump on the latest batch of stolen emails or announcement from Comey.
On Wednesday, October 20th, 2016, this exchange occurred during the third and final debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle:
The comments by Ms. Clinton were promptly covered by America’s mainstream media as shown here:
The seed was planted and significant parts of the American voting public noticed, particularly those who believed that Hillary Clinton had the God-given right to take control of the Oval Office.
What the Clinton campaign’s tactics did to the voting public was nothing short of brilliant. By deflecting to the Russia narrative, voters seemed to either ignore or forget this email exchange with John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager:
…and this one:
…and the controversial events surrounding Clinton’s efforts to disengage voters from Bernie Sanders and take control of the DNC’s coffers as explained in this excerpt from Donna Brazile’s post-election book, “Hacks”:
Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially … money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.
I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.
When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.
The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.…
I had to keep my promise to Bernie. I was in agony as I dialed him. Keeping this secret was against everything that I stood for, all that I valued as a woman and as a public servant.
“Hello, senator. I’ve completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer,” I said. “But I will not kill the patient.”
I had to be frank with him. I did not trust the polls, I said. I told him I had visited states around the country and I found a lack of enthusiasm for her everywhere. I was concerned about the Obama coalition and about millennials.
I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.” (my bolds)
So, who is it that really tried to rig the 2016 presidential election in the United States?
It is pretty obvious that the Clinton campaign’s “Russian puppet” seed-planting was highly successful in both Washington and Main Street America where it has divided the voting public even further along party lines and distracted Congress from doing what they were elected to do, run the nation. It succeeded in getting American voters to forget or ignore the backroom shenanigans that seemed typical of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, particularly deflecting media focus from the Clinton campaign’s behind the scenes machinations to destroy the campaign of populist candidate Bernie Sanders by replacing it with Donald Trump’s alleged links to Russia and Mr. Putin. Sadly, in all of this, Main Street America is being manipulated into believing that Russia is the enemy, giving Washington a complete pass on how business is done in America’s political capital and, in particular, how the Clinton campaign was willing to win at any cost.
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