Putin-Linked Businessman Brags About Interfering in U.S. Elections

A Putin-linked businessman bragged about meddling in our elections “Carefully, precisely, surgically.”

The AP reported, “Kremlin-connected entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted Monday that he had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue to do so — confirming for the first time the accusations that he has rejected for years.

“‘We have interfered, are interfering and will continue to interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way.'”

Oh. So the Mueller report was correct. The one the Right derisively dismissed as “Russia hoax.”

Most people never read the full report. Here’s a take on it by Lisa Desjardins and William Brangham for NPR, “The 448-page Mueller report contains copious detail about how Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, both by using social media to influence American voters with misinformation and by hacking into the Clinton campaign’s computers. Russian operatives also connected with WikiLeaks to release the stolen material.”

The AP reiterated Prigozhin’s involvement in interfering with the 2016 election as well (emphasis mine), “In 2018, Prigozhin and a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies were charged in the U.S. with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of the 2016 presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump. They were indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.”

This comes just days after the New York Times reported “Russia’s meddling in Trump-era politics was more directly connected to the current war than previously understood” in “The Untold Story of ‘Russiagate’ and the Road to War in Ukraine.” The New York Times piece tied together the connections between Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine and his interference in the 2016 election, “The Russia investigation and its offshoots never did prove coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though they did document numerous connections. But to view the record left behind through the blood-filtered lens of Putin’s war, now in its ninth month, is to discover a trail of underappreciated signals telegraphing the depth of his Ukrainian obsession — and the life-or-death stakes that America’s domestic travails would have for some 45 million people nearly 5,000 miles away…

“In the end, Putin would not get out of a Trump presidency what he thought he had paid for, and democracy would bend but not yet break in both the United States and Ukraine. But that, as much as anything, would set the Russian leader on his march to war.”

Perhaps had our country had listened to Hillary Clinton’s warnings at the time, Ukraine might not be fighting off genocide and the world on the brink of falling to brutal authoritarians. Our own political culpability in the current fate of Ukraine should serve to remind those in the media that the “horserace” style coverage can have bloody consequences. Our politics are treated like a sport, but they are not a sport.

Here’s Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, calling Trump a Putin puppet:

Transcript from an opinion piece in the New York Times:

TRUMP: … from everything I see, [Putin] has no respect for this person.

CLINTON: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: And it’s pretty clear …

TRUMP: You’re the puppet!

CLINTON: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit …

TRUMP: No, you’re the puppet.

CLINTON: … that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race.

So I think that this is such an unprecedented situation. We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17 — 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.

Clinton was right. Putin had a favorite in the 2016 election. He helped Donald Trump get elected. The next question is why and the answer is that Trump was easily manipulated by Putin.

That Mueller couldn’t prove collusion does not mean Putin didn’t work to get Trump elected. He did. The Trump team accepted some of the help. Mueller just couldn’t prove they knew it was illegal to do so and that they colluded to do so. Had the shoe been on the other foot, the Democrat would have been branded a traitor, but for some reason, Republicans are still kissing the ring of their party leader, Donald Trump. And they know better.

Prigozhin admitted they have interfered, are interfering and will continue to do so “Carefully, precisely, surgically.”

The Russians do this in large part via social media, which makes Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter even more problematic given his push to give Putin what he wants in Ukraine (among other tells).

This is one reason to be dubious about the extremists on both sides online, and this is perhaps the only time I will use the phrase “both sides” sans derision.

The Russians want us to hate and distrust one another. The Republican Party has gone off the cliff of democracy and their actions are despicable, but many of their supporters are people who have been conditioned through lies and stereotypes to hate and fear Democrats.

If we are to fend off the Russian attack on our country, we must stop reacting to the hate amplified by greedy social media billionaires and instead focus on advancing democracy within our local communities and respectfully challenging misconceptions and stereotypes of Democrats and liberals as evil.

They really are out to get us, and the Republican Party is helping them attack our democracy.

This is a real war, fought in the cyber world, with horrifying real world ramifications. We are all unwittingly participating in this Russian attempt to undermine western democracy when we use social media. We are being manipulated and divided from outside and inside, Fox News et al finish the job.

Sarah Jones

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