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Fri Apr 19, 2019, 09:09 PM

He is not vindicated but I am

By Anne Applebaum
April 19 at 3:44 PM

... Everyone who began writing about the weird connections between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government in the spring and summer of 2016 is vindicated: Sarah Kendzior, Josh Rogin and Franklin Foer, for example. But, of course, there were many more. As it turns out, the Russian attempts to assist the Trump campaign were deep and broad, and those who described them, even if tentatively at first, were right to do so.

For me, the turning point was Trump’s decision to hire Paul Manafort, who I knew had spent several previous years supporting pro-Russian political leaders in Ukraine. Manafort was famous for using polarizing campaign tactics and dirty tricks to help his clients win; he helped form the corrupt and lawless world of Ukrainian politics, one in which anything goes — and where, on Sunday, a television comedian is probably going to be elected president. I predicted that Manafort would help Ukrainianize U.S. politics. And he did. The role played in the 2016 campaign by conspiracy theories, disinformation, online troll and bot campaigns, as well as hacked emails — all tactics previously tested by the Russian government in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe — was enormous.

... David Frum has written, “It’s not a theory but a matter of historical record that Vladimir Putin’s Russia hacked American emails and used them to help elect Trump to the presidency.” It’s also a matter of historical record that Trump campaign officials approved of this interference; indeed, they cheered it on ...

... Why was Trump, all through the latter part of the 2016 campaign, repeating and using slogans that were conceived on Russian state media? Obama “founded ISIS” and Hillary Clinton will cause World War III : These were slogans first used by Sputnik and other Russian sources ...

... Trump Sr. was praising Putin on CNN as far back as 2013. Trump was working on business deals in Russia — which he lied about, repeatedly — through most of the 2016 campaign, as the Mueller report explains in great detail. Trump’s performance when standing next to the Russian president in Helsinki last July was bizarre: The sight of the U.S. president cringing before the Russian president was shocking. (Watch it again if you’ve forgotten.) His repeated attempts to hold secret talks with Putin, with no U.S. officials present, might not be illegal. But neither are they normal, or acceptable, or comparable to the behavior of any previous American president ...


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