Sunday, July 24, 2016

Exposing the Siberian Candidate

Journalists have begun to explore connections between Putin (and pals) and Trump (and especially his campaign manager.)  But they've come front and center Sunday with Clinton campaign charges that the recent Wikileaks dump of DNC internal emails was orchestrated by the Russian government specifically as the Democratic National Convention is about to begin, in order to further the Trump candidacy.

Stories on these charges in the New York Times and Washington Post both suggested that the security consultants they asked did agree that the theft of these emails was likely the work of Russian spy agencies and the Times added that using them to influence an election would be a well known Russian tactic.

Trump's recent statements on NATO, the RNC platform change on Ukraine to soften it in favor of the Russian position, and Trump's well-known admiration for Putin suggest quid pro quo.  Numerous business ties between Trump and Russian oligarchs are also known.  

As mentioned here before, Paul Krugman joined Jonathan Chiat and other journalists of repute in suggesting that there is enough known to warrant serious investigation.  But the most detailed and damning articles I've seen are by Franklin Foer at Slate.  The shortest piece, that sums up the situation before today, notes that "Trump has a long history of sucking up to Russian political leaders to advance his business interests in that country. His praise of Putin has correlated with large infusions of Russian cash into his real estate projects. Furthermore, his campaign is staffed by aides with financial ties to the Russian state."

Foer also notes some of his reporting on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort: "Manafort didn’t just represent oligarchs tight with the Kremlin. He became business partners with them. He ran a private equity fund in which the aluminum magnate (and Putin pal) Oleg Deripaska invested millions. As the Washington Post has shown, this fund didn’t exactly do much investing. In fact, Manafort struggled to account for the cash he received. And rather than pay back Deripaska, he apparently went underground."

Foer's detailed pieces on Manafort and his "consulting, and especially on Trump as the perfect Siberian Candidate are, in a brutalizing campaign, even more shocking.  Trump may be working for the Russians; at the very least, with Russian oligarchs for their mutual enrichment.  And Putin really does seem to be working for the Trump campaign.

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