“(CNN)Fiona Hill, once then-President Donald Trump’s top Russia adviser, said Tuesday evening that she was so alarmed during Trump’s 2018 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that she had looked for a fire alarm to pull and considered faking a medical emergency.
“WASHINGTON — Representative Jason Crow listened during a classified briefing last summer while a top intelligence official said that Russia was hurting Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign to help President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Crow, Democrat of Colorado, held up an intelligence agency news release from days earlier and demanded to know why it said nothing about Russia’s plans.
“‘When are you going to come out publicly and correct this record?’” Mr. Crow recalled asking the official, William R. Evanina. “‘Because there’s a massive disconnect between what is in your news releases and what you’re saying publicly — because of the pressure of the president.’”
A report released Tuesday made clear that the intelligence community believed that Russia had long attacked Mr. Biden for the benefit of Mr. Trump. But throughout 2020, senior officials bowed to Mr. Trump’s hostility toward any public emphasis of the threat from Russia, and they offered Congress and the public incomplete or misleading portraits of the intelligence on foreign influence in the election.” . . .
“Collusion — or a lack of it — turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump’s pursuers. There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.
Run down the known facts about the communications between Russians and the Trump campaign and their deal reveals itself. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, Russians also reminded the Trump family of their helpful cooperation with his past financial ventures. Perhaps, also, they articulated their resentment of Mrs. Clinton for her challenge as secretary of state to the legitimacy of Mr. Putin’s own election. But no such speculation is needed to perceive the obvious bargain reached during the campaign of 2016.
Early on, emissaries of the Russian oligarchs sent word of their readiness to help embarrass and undermine the Clinton candidacy. And in June 2016, the Russians lured the Trumpites to a meeting in Trump Tower with a promise of “dirt” against Mrs. Clinton only to use the meeting to harp on their hunger for sanctions relief. As the Trump family openly acknowledged, the Russians spoke at that meeting of a desire to again allow Americans to adopt Russian children. Since the adoptions were halted to retaliate against the American sanctions, it required no dictionary to interpret the oligarchs’ meaning: “dirt” for sanctions relief.
That relief and a warm new relationship with Russia were then freely discussed in public and in private. There was even an effort to concoct a grand diplomatic bargain by which the Russians would be allowed to legalize their seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea. Michael Cohen and other Trump advisers promoted the idea of letting the Russians “lease” the seized territory for up to 100 years so as to sanitize the reciprocal lifting of the sanctions that Mr. Obama had imposed to punish the land grab.”
David Lindsay: I missed this story, but it appeared today, 3/10/21, in a small piece in the NYT that a court dismissed a Trump law suit charging defamation, regarding this op-ed above.
The sentence above about offering to allow adoptions to resume is confusing to this reader. Perhaps it is used an example that the Russians offered as many benefits as they could think of, if the Trumpsters would promise to remove the economic sanctions, that were hurting Putin and his group.
The message though is still clear, as expressed in the subtitle of that Frankel op-ed: “The campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching deal: help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”
Here is the link to the NYT story of today
“After the imprisonment this month of the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, punishing Russia is back on the agenda. On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on Russian officials, with the final details to come.
Yet such measures are unlikely to satisfy the Kremlin’s critics. They have in their sights a pet project of President Vladimir Putin’s: Nord Stream 2, a pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would supply natural gas directly to Germany.
The project has already survived fierce opposition from many European countries and the United States. And Germany, for which the pipeline is part of Europe’s delicate geopolitical balancing act, is committed to finishing it. With fewer than 100 miles to go, construction is nearly complete. But the treatment of Mr. Navalny and his supporters has once again thrown open the question of the project.
The pipeline’s predecessor, Nord Stream 1 — which was completed in 2012 and also runs undersea directly from Russia to Germany — was controversial, too. Germany’s eastern neighbors feared that Russia might cut off their gas while continuing to supply Germany. In that case, Eastern Europeans would be left to face the Kremlin alone.”
Fascinating piece by Chris Miller. The big problem is that Germany has turned its back on nuclear energy, since the Japanese nuclear disaster. “The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was a 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.” – Wikipedia.
Germany, like most of the world, needs nuclear as a backup to sustainable energy systems. Bill Gates has a team which has re-invented the nuclear energy machine, so it runs on old nuclear waste, and can not melt down. It doesn’t require extreme temperatures. See the video, Inside Bill’s Brain, part three.
“At the worst possible time, when the United States is at its most vulnerable — during a presidential transition and a devastating public health crisis — the networks of the federal government and much of corporate America are compromised by a foreign nation. We need to understand the scale and significance of what is happening.
Last week, the cybersecurity firm FireEye said it had been hacked and that its clients, which include the United States government, had been placed at risk. This week, we learned that SolarWinds, a publicly traded company that provides software to tens of thousands of government and corporate customers, was also hacked.
The attackers gained access to SolarWinds software before updates of that software were made available to its customers. Unsuspecting customers then downloaded a corrupted version of the software, which included a hidden back door that gave hackers access to the victim’s network.”
“Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s national security adviser, revealed this week that he had recently met his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, in Geneva and warned him that “there would be absolutely no tolerance for any interference” in the November election.
This was a pointless exchange. It misrepresents how Russia actually interferes in our affairs. The Russian state does not meddle directly. It delegates to proxies, who amplify our divisions and exploit our political polarization.
And the truth is, Americans must recognize that the United States is ripe for manipulation. With a month to go before Election Day, we are ripping ourselves apart.
When I was at the National Security Council, I had similar meetings with Mr. Patrushev and other Russian officials; we met in Geneva, in Moscow and in side rooms at international summits. With the national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, we called them out for intervening in our 2016 elections. We warned them not to repeat their operations in 2018 and 2020.
Our Russian counterparts never admitted to anything. They professed surprise at the uproar in American politics. They had done nothing. The United States, they said, had “gone mad.”
The uproar, we countered, was their fault. They had lost the entire American political class. Their actions pushed our bilateral relationship into a destructive spiral.
We would then run through the now widely reported facts about what Russian operatives had done. Russia’s 2016 campaign was a creative mix of old-style propaganda techniques and new cybertools. On the one hand, Russia state-backed media outlets magnified the most divisive U.S. political conflicts. On the other, Twitter bots and WikiLeaks spread disinformation and revealed hacked emails. Russia’s Internet Research Agency analyzed U.S. public opinion and hired individuals to pose as Americans on Facebook.
“Since at least February, and possibly as early as March 2019, the United States has had compelling intelligence that a committed adversary, Russia, paid bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan. American service members were reportedly killed as a result.
To this day, the president of the United States has done nothing about it.
Instead, President Trump dismissed the intelligence as not “credible” and “possibly another fabricated Russia hoax, maybe by the Fake News” that is “wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”
Mr. Trump also claimed that neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence was ever told about this critical intelligence before it was first reported in The New York Times. Setting aside for a moment the credulity of that claim, whenever the president learned of this deeply troubling intelligence, why did he not publicly condemn any Russian efforts to kill American soldiers and explore options for a swift and significant U.S. response?
None of this adds up.
As a former national security adviser, I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that no one told Mr. Trump about this intelligence.”
Idlib Was Their Last Refuge. They Couldn’t Hide From the Bombs.
Millions of Syrians have fled to Idlib Province seeking safety. During a rare reporting trip, The Times found that President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies are still bombing them.
On Feb. 3, soon after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a global health emergency, an obscure Twitter account in Moscow began retweeting an American blog. It said the pathogen was a germ weapon designed to incapacitate and kill. The headline called the evidence “irrefutable” even though top scientists had already debunked that claim and declared the novel virus to be natural.
As the pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an “infodemic,” according to the World Health Organization. Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within.
The House, the Senate and the nation’s intelligence agencies have typically focused on election meddling in their examinations of Mr. Putin’s long campaign. But the repercussions are wider. An investigation by The New York Times — involving scores of interviews as well as a review of scholarly papers, news reports, and Russian documents, tweets and TV shows — found that Mr. Putin has spread misinformation on issues of personal health for more than a decade.
His agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics — including flu outbreaks, Ebola and now the coronavirus — were sown by American scientists. The disinformers have also sought to undermine faith in the safety of vaccines, a triumph of public health that Mr. Putin himself promotes at home.
“The relationship between Russia and the United States has been mired in crisis for much of the past decade. Communication once considered routine has been cut off, deepening mistrust and making it more difficult to reduce tensions and avoid miscalculation. The current state of affairs does not serve the strategic interests of either country, and it puts global security at risk because Russia and the United States are the only countries that possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other — and all of humanity.
Rebuilding mutual confidence and putting United States-Russian relations on a safer track will be a challenging long-term endeavor, given the political climates in Washington and Moscow. But the two countries have a chance to head off even more instability by extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in one year, on Feb. 5. While 12 months may seem like a lot of time, in diplomatic terms and in the present environment, the clock is ticking fast.
The United States and Russia can avoid a senseless and dangerous return to nuclear brinksmanship if they act soon. There is no reason to wait, and extending the treaty, known as New START, is the place to begin.
With the unfortunate dissolution of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, New START is the only agreement still in place that limits the size of American and Russian nuclear forces. It also provides vital verification and transparency measures, including on-site inspections, that have helped foster strategic stability. The treaty allows for a five-year extension if the leaders of both countries agree. President Vladimir Putin and President Trump should seize this opportunity.”