How Russia (Reportedly) Influenced The US Elections
Two new reports have come to light shedding information on what led the U.S. government to believe that the Kremlin had an integral role to play in the 2016 U.S elections, and the reason behind the FBI’s relentless probe into Trump’s campaign.
According to a report by Reuters, post elections, U.S.’s intelligence agencies managed to get their hands on two documents from a think tank reportedly controlled by Russian president Putin himself. Seven U.S. officials have come out stating that the papers, which have been produced by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, showcased a well thought out and planned strategy to swing the elections in favor of Donald Trump, or at least undermine the confidence the American voters placed with Hillary Clinton and the overall electoral system.
Published in June, the first document calls for Russian authorities to launch a well thought out propaganda campaign on social media and Russian back news channels, to help elect a president more favorable to Russian interests. The second document, published in October, calls for a widespread spread of fake news, claiming voter fraud as Hillary Clinton’s victory became imminent. The Russians pushed for a campaign wherein if their ‘chosen’ candidate failed to win, the winning president’s legitimacy could be undermined, raising questions about her presidency.
A former U.S. intelligence official told Reuters, “Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map.”
The Russian institute’s official claim of focus is to provide the Russian government with “analytical materials”, whereas Reuters reports that the institute has been staffed by retired KGB officials, on the direct orders of Putin’s office. While there is no mention of the hacking of the Democratic officials’ emails, they are an integral factor in the U.S.’s intelligence agencies beliefs of Russia’s interference in the elections.
Now these documents also make no mention of any sort of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. But the New York Times, yesterday, revealed the possible reason behind the FBI’s investigation of this issue, that being a visit to Moscow last July, by a former Trump adviser, Carter Page.
Back in 2013, the Russian intelligence had tried to recruit Mr. Page, bringing him to the attention of the FBI. However it is still not clear to the American intelligence of the reason behind his visit last summer. In a dossier compiled by former British intelligence officials, Page met with Putin Confidant, Igor Sechin, during his trip to Moscow. Both men have denied any such meeting till date.
In a report issued by the Washington Post last week, the FBI has reportedly received a FISA warrant to monitor all of Page’s communication last summer. With Trump’s team continuously playing down Page’s involvement in his campaign, it is known that Page did indeed submit policy memos and participate in various campaign events.
With Page appearing on various media channels to defend himself, he’s mentioned his satisfaction on the FBI’s investigation finally becoming public, “I’m very encouraged that all of the lies that have been a drag on this administration are finally coming out into the open.”
Image Source: Tom Williams/ CQ Roll Call