Vladimir Putin’s Observations on America’s Democracy and Russia’s Electoral Interference

The Kremlin recently published the transcript of an interview with American film producer and director Oliver Stone that took place on June 19, 2019. In this interview, President Putin provides us with insight into Washington's narrative that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.  One of his comments is particularly pertinent as you will see.

Here is the initial part of the exchange about the allegations of electoral interference in 2016 which may surprise you:

"Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

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Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table." (my bolds)

If you want to read more about the emerging story of alleged collusion between Ukrainians and the Clinton campaign and the connections between the Biden family and Ukraine please click here and here.

Here is an exchange about why Donald Trump won the 2016 election, why Russia preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton and the internal electoral interference that takes place:

"Vladimir Putin: … If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They (the Clinton campaign) had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure (i.e. the incumbent) they can apply always have a 2 percent edge (in an election). You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used." (my bolds)

This observation by President Putin is quite interesting.  Here is a quote from Lumen Learning about the advantages of incumbency by members of Congress:

"Incumbents have structural advantages over challengers during elections. The percentage of incumbents who win reelection after seeking it in the U.S. House of Representatives has been over 80% for more than 50 years, and is often over 90%."

Here is a quote from a paper on the advantages of incumbency by James Druckman et al:

"Competition is fundamental to democracy – it ensures choice for citizens and facilitates electoral accountability. Substantial scholarship shows how institutions, particularly electoral systems, influence the nature of competition and can, at times, privilege certain office-seekers. One widely discussed manifestation concerns the “incumbency advantage” in United States congressional elections. This refers to the electoral benefit a candidate receives simply due to being an incumbent (holding all else constant), which is in the range of nearly 8% of votes. It derives, in part, from the incumbent’s personal experience in office, familiarity (i.e., ties to the district), and the provision of benefits for the district (e.g., casework, pork-barrel projects)."

There is no doubt that, during the 2016 election, the Clinton campaign had significant inside resources in Washington that stemmed from Bill Clinton's presidency and Hillary Clinton's term as Secretary of State that gave her an "administrative advantage".

In this part of the interview, Vladimir Putin discusses a very rarely discussed but key aspect of the 2016 election that is rarely discussed:

"Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters."

With that in mind, let's look at one of the key problems with American-style democracy as shown here:

Even going back to the 1960 election, while John F. Kennedy appeared to have a landslide by winning 303 electoral college votes to Richard Nixon's 219, Kennedy only had 34,226,731 votes to Nixon's 34,108,157 for a majority of only 118,574 votes or 0.17 percent of total votes cast.  This is the problem with America's electoral college system.

Let's close this posting with this final quote from President Putin:

"I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future."

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