News & Politics

American Democracy Is Putin's Proudest Purchase

Every day, more evidence of the conspiracy to install a puppet to run the executive branch of the United States government comes to light.

Photo Credit: Guardian Football

Every day, more evidence of the conspiracy to install a puppet to run the executive branch of the United States government comes to light.

Last week, Carole Cadwalladr and Stephanie Kirchgaessner of The Guardian reported on the February 2017 visit of Brittany Kaiser, a director of Cambridge Analytica, to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

But visitor logs from the Ecuador embassy obtained by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador appear to show that Brittany Kaiser, a senior executive at Cambridge Analytica until earlier this year, visited Assange on 17 February 2017. Information passed to the DCMS committee in the UK and the Senate judiciary committee in the US states that the meeting was “a retrospective to discuss the US election”.

Kaiser is also alleged to have said that she had funnelled money to WikiLeaks in the form of cryptocurrency. She called the organisation her “favourite charity”. The reports passed to investigators say that money was given to her by third parties in the form of “gifts and payments”.

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Cambridge Analytica is the firm financed by Robert Mercer, proud sponsor of Trump’s election campaign and father of Rebekah Mercer, who together with Steve Bannon reinvigorated the Breitbart website as a neo-Nazi mouthpiece. In March, Carole Cadwalladr revealed the work that Cambridge Analytica did for a Russian oil company whose CEO is tied to Putin. Now, Lukoil may actually have something to do with energy production, but it appears that the firm’s main interest is more closely aligned with Vladimir Putin’s wishes.

Mueller’s investigation traces the first stages of the Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 US election back to 2014, when the Russian state made what appears to be its first concerted efforts to harness the power of America’s social media platforms, including Facebook. And it was in late summer of the same year that Cambridge Analytica presented the Russian oil company with an outline of its datasets, capabilities and methodology. The presentation had little to do with “consumers”. Instead, documents show it focused on election disruption techniques. The first slide illustrates how a “rumour campaign” spread fear in the 2007 Nigerian election – in which the company worked – by spreading the idea that the “election would be rigged”. The final slide, branded with Lukoil’s logo and that of SCL Group and SCL Elections, headlines its “deliverables”: “psychographic messaging”.

Lukoil is a private company, but its CEO, Alekperov, answers to Putin, and it’s been used as a vehicle of Russian influence in Europe and elsewhere – including in the Czech Republic, where in 2016 it was revealed that an adviser to the strongly pro-Russian Czech presidentwas being paid by the company.

If you look closely, you will find the tentacles of this firm criss-crossing the Russia-Trump collaboration.

But Cambridge Analytica does not get to claim full credit for installing the puppet regime in the White House. They may have provided some aid, but most of the heavy lifting was done by Russians, 13 of whom have already been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, with the assistance of the Trump campaign team.

As David Corn so persuasively wrote for Mother Jones, this is the scandal that overrides all other Trump administration activities:

...In 2016, Vladimir Putin’s regime mounted information warfare against the United States, in part to help Trump become president. While this attack was underway, the Trump crew tried to collude covertly with Moscow, sought to set up a secret communications channel with Putin’s office, and repeatedly denied in public that this assault was happening, providing cover to the Russian operation. Trump and his lieutenants aligned themselves with and assisted a foreign adversary, as it was attacking the United States. The evidence is rock-solid: They committed a profound act of betrayal. That is the scandal.

And still, the mainstream media continues to normalize this presidency. Russia attacked the sanctity of our very elections. As Corn points out, stealing our faith in our own democracy is a far greater crime than “a bribe, a break-in, or a blow job,” all of which triggered investigations and impeachments in earlier eras. Our media portrays this scandal as a political battle in which each side has a valid point of view. More interested in the horse-race of politics, they fail to realize that politics is little more than the way we organize to govern ourselves and that the important thing is the governance of a nation, not the winning or losing of an election. 

In exchange for handing him the Oval Office, Russia appears to be succeeding in its long-held dream of destroying the unity of Europe and of NATO. For his part, Trump is now using his office for personal profit without a clue as to how our government is supposed to work. When your main objective is profit, it matters little how much destruction you cause in its pursuit.

The Republican Congress may be the guiltiest party of all in this scandal. They have had opportunity after opportunity to defend our democracy and have failed to do so. Yes, the media should have focused more on the danger the Russians pose to our electoral system, but the Congress members all took an oath to do so. It is their job to protect our sovereignty.

Instead, they are echoing the bullshit Trump is peddling on Twitter about a deep state and its attacks on Trump. Should any of them dare to speak up, as Paul Ryan did a few days ago, the loyalists (of Putin’s puppet government) move to take him out.

It’s clear that they are more interested in future careers on K Street than they are in doing their current jobs, but even a high-dollar K Street gig seems a mighty small pay-off for destroying the government that allows K Street to exist. 

Although the media has only presented a disjointed image of the Russian scandal as a political threat to Trump and his fellow Republicans, the American people still want a check on him and recognize that the current Congress has failed in this area. According to a recent (June1-4) NBC/WSJ poll:

By 53 percent to 31 percent, voters say they'd be less likely to support a lawmaker who votes with Trump down the line.

By 48 percent to 23 percent, they'd warm to a candidate promising to provide a check on Trump's presidency. Support for Trump's border and tax priorities, the poll shows, would hurt a candidate more than it would help in November.

It is clear that someone has to be a check on this hired hand: even a disinterested public can see that. The hard part will be getting them to the polls in November. Those who don’t care, those who can’t be bothered, those who don’t think their vote matters—they are the ones we have to reach. Forget about the white working-class members who confuse economic anxiety with racism. Focus instead on the majority of Americans who don’t usually vote during mid-term elections and convince them that this year, they have to vote.