In 1972, five men were caught breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. The crime prompted one of the greatest examples of investigative journalism in media history, and led to the resignation of a sitting American president.
Four decades later, we’re witnessing another effort to steal private campaign documents in order to influence an election. Only this time, instead of filing cabinets, it’s people’s emails they’re breaking into…and a foreign government is behind it.
The fact that Russia is behind the hacking is no longer in question. The Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence released a joint statement officially charging Russia with directing the cyber attacks in order to interfere with our election. The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects Russian intelligence agencies are behind the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. During an interview on CNN, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to deny Russia involvement.
Trump’s Hacking Denials
Intelligence officials say that Donald Trump was reportedly briefed in mid-August about Russia’s efforts to meddle in our election. So, at the first presidential debate, when Donald Trump blamed a 400-lb. hacker…
…and at the second debate, when he said this:
In each case, Trump had reportedly already received intelligence briefings about Russia’s role in the hacks, but he apparently chose to ignore the evidence and defend Vladimir Putin.
Roger Stone and WikiLeaks
Security experts have evidence that the so-called “Guccifer 2.0” is actually a front for Russian hackers. The hacked emails have been made public by WikiLeaks, run by Julian Assange, who has well-documented ties to the Kremlin and released the Russian-hacked DNC documents in June. In fact, we are starting to see Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks separately release the same materials that purport to come from John Podesta’s email account.
On August 13, Trump’s close friend and longtime political adviser Roger Stone appeared on Alex Jones’ show and confirmed that he was in communication with Assange.
On August 21, Stone tweeted that Podesta would be the next hacking victim.
On September 3, Stoned predicted a “Podesta-gate” scandal on his radio show. Weeks later, Stone said he “had a backchannel communication with Assange through an intermediary” and remarked that a “mutual friend who has traveled back and forth to London” had assured Stone that “Assange has a treasure trove” of information on the Clintons.
On October 1 and October 3, Stone tweeted about an imminent WikiLeaks dump.
All of this occurred in advance of the WikiLeaks dump of what they claimed to be Podesta’s emails, which began on October 7.
Carter Page and Russian Intelligence
It’s not just Stone. Yahoo! News reported that Trump’s former foreign policy adviser Carter Page traveled to Russia and allegedly met with the top Putin aide believed by U.S. officials to be in charge of Russia’s intelligence efforts regarding our election. Page had already raised concerns among foreign policy experts by delivering a July speech highly critical of U.S. policy — in Moscow.
The Trump campaign attempted to claim that Page had “no role” in the campaign. But that’s a demonstrable lie because Trump himself identified Page as a member of his foreign policy team, and spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed it.
What’s going on here?
So, to recap: our intelligence community has confirmed that Russia is trying to influence our election. Despite reportedly being briefed on this, Trump has continued to defend Putin and deflect blame from Russia — in effect coddling a foreign adversary. Meanwhile, Russian hackers and WikiLeaks are clearly trying to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
We also know that documents previously released by the Russian hackers behind Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks have been manipulated, and that we should only expect more of these dirty tricks moving forward. Donald Trump needs to condemn these illegal hacks and denounce Russian efforts to intervene in our election.
Why is Trump protecting Putin by lying about Russia’s role in these hacks? What did his campaign know and when did they know it? Why won’t he condemn this?
With less than a month until Election Day, these are the questions we need answered — and soon.