Why are the Russians Exposing their Pre Election Links with the Trump Campaign?

The national sport in Russia.  Habibah Agianda, Creative Commons

A national sport in Russia. Habibah Agianda, Creative Commons

Why are the Russians Exposing their Pre Election Links with the Trump Campaign?

(Washington, DC) A senior Russian diplomat announced that the Russian government had ongoing ties to the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

A centerpiece of the Clinton presidential campaign was Russian interference with the 2016 United States election. From charges that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee email server to horror show claims that the Russians would somehow hack election voting machines, Clinton and her cadre were clear about the threat posed by Russia. In addition, there were charges that Trump had ties to Russian oligarchs as a source for business funding. Worst of all, there was the general claim that somehow Donald Trump was under the sway of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who rose to power through the Russian intelligence apparatus known as the KGB.

The U.S. mainstream media supported the Clinton campaign charges. In late September, ABC investigative reporters ran a detailed article about the “hundreds of millions of dollar” in investments Trump has received from Russian businessmen. The Daily Beast ran a comprehensive four part series on consecutive days starting on November 3. The series outlined Trump’s alleged role as a useful idiot for Putin and business entaglements exposing him to Russian influence (parts onetwo, three, and four). The series culminated with a description of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manefort’s ties to the deposed pro Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich.

Trump denied “any relationship with Vladimir Putin” and any influence due to business conducted with Russian business interests. Trump surrogates denied any Russian influence and countered with charges that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton gave a sweetheart deal to Russian oligarchs in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The lines seem clearly drawn. The Clinton storyline argues that Trump endorses policies favored by Russia likely in return for financial and mind control influence by Putin and Russian business interests.

Why did the Russian’s give credence to the Clinton campaign charges?

The Washington Post headlined a story on November 10 about a statement by senior Russian diplomat, Sergei Ryabkov:

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his [Trump’s] entourage,” Ryabkov said.

“We have just begun to consider ways of building dialogue with the future Donald Trump administration and channels we will be using for those purposes,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Ryabkov provided no further details, and his remarks drew a swift denial from Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who said the campaign had “no contact with Russian officials” before Tuesday’s election.  Washington Post, November 10

For just a moment, let’s assume the veracity of the Clinton campaign and mainstream media claims of Russian influence on the Trump campaign. Why would the Russians go out of their way to admit this?   Why would the Deputy Foreign Minister, of all the possible Russian sources, provide this information?

Even a cursory review of Russian diplomacy over the past several years demonstrates a high degree of discipline and caution. Unlike the U.S. government, the Russians speak with one voice. Russian diplomatic efforts are couched in international law. President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and other Russian diplomats are precise in their language and proposals. They don’t shoot from the hip. This may be difficult to grasp for the politically motivated Clinton campaign and media sources that benefit from demonizing Putin but these are the facts nevertheless.

This statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov was no accident. His remarks clearly opened the way for speculation that the Trump campaign was somehow in collusion with Moscow. Ryabkov’s claim that these were routine contacts is an explanation without an audience.

Of special interest is the timing of the reported contacts with Trump. The Russians didn’t respond to allegations of contact. They announced the relationship with the Trump campaign. They also announced that a similar offer of contact to the Clinton effort was turned down.

Why did the Russian’s initiate this announcement knowing it could hurt Trump at a critical post election juncture? He’s losing the popular vote and demonstrations are emerging all over the country protesting his policies. The New York Times estimates a 1.2% popular vote victory by Clinton when all the votes are tabulated. Trump will be subjected to the battle accusation of imposing extreme changes in policy based on a minority mandate.

Why would Russia deliberately release this information?

The information is potentially devastating to Trump’s legitimacy as the new president. The Post story is showing up in major national and regional media outlets.

Given the calculated, mistake-free style of Russian diplomacy, how do we interpret this outcome in light of the supposed capture of Trump as a tool of the Russian government?

Creative Commons 4.0

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  • charlie sheldon

    As I read this article in the Post I am wondering if this is a misinterpretation of what was said. He said they know the Trump people, and apparently said there “were contacts” but I am wondering if what he was saying was that they did know and had had contact with some Trump people before the election under regular business and were now hoping to work with his administration? It wouldn’t surprise me that the media connected some dots that aren’t there. It all depends on what was exactly said when this guy said there “were contacts” and that isn’t clear from the article. It also wouldn’t surprise me if this isn’t a deliberate misinterpretation from the neocon perspective, because it continues the narrative that Russia is BAD

    • I don’t think the Russians are BAD. In fact, I’ve argued frequently that they’re right about Syria, Ukraine, and the needless hostility of U.S. policies toward Russia. The ambiguity in the narrative you describe is exactly what the Russians wanted. They initiated this statement. They were not responding. They knew, without any doubt, about the claims of Russian influence on Trump and that this statement would fuel those advancing the claims. Why, if they just got their “stooge” in office would they undermine the stooge’s credibility on a critical point? I don’t have the answer but the timing and the source (the Russians) of the statement are the points that make this significant.

      • Read between the lines

        It’s a Washington Post story. Repeat: STORY. Pretty much everything they put out is fiction. You can bet that from a simple statement like “We have spoken to Trump recently” it is turned into a “You see, Trump and Russia are collaborating to destroy the USA and our criminal and pedophile enterprises. Bad Trump. Bad Putin.

        FFS, identify the propaganda source (MSM) and immediately dismiss the story. Misrepresented storm in a teacup.

  • Mr Boompi

    Why wouldn’t Russia, including the Russian government and business interests, want to establish a dialog with both candidates? After all, they will need to work with one of them. It only makes sense. It’s not like Hillary didn’t take money from Russian business interests. She only brought up Russia because she needed someone to blame for the email leaks. Her campaign and her bought and paid for media never admitted the emails obtained by Wikileaks were not from a Russian hack, they were freely given to them by members of US intel agencies who didn’t want to see the country run by a corrupt criminal. The author seems to gloss over the US meddling in foreign affairs, including many things much more deadly than talking to someone.

    • I am not criticizing Russia. I thoroughly object to US meddling in the affairs of foreign states, i.e., http://www.opednews.com/populum/cpseriesassignment.php?rid=315 I am pointing out that this was a piece of propaganda designed to produce a reaction. It was initiated by the Russians. They knew it would creat problems for Trump. They don’t do things by accident. I’m pointing this out as an anomaly that is worth watching.

      Creating business contacts does not involve proactively releasing information that can be seized on to attack the new president, one that they allegedly control.

  • swinebraten

    Apparently Russian is frequently misinterpreted.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBTBBNOtbhM

  • hyperbola

    This seems to be propaganda. Why is Washingtons Blog publishing it?

    Russia Reached Out to Trump, Clinton Camps During Election
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-10/russia-says-it-was-in-contact-with-trump-s-team-during-campaign

    Russia reveals it was in contact with Trump AND Clinton’s campaign teams during the presidential election after Hillary calls Donald a ‘puppet’ of Putin
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3923788/Russia-says-touch-Trump-campaign-election.html

    • Then apparently you can’t read or chose not to. This is not pro Clinton and it’s not anti Trump. The analysis takes a Russian statement that did not need to be released but was, nevertheless, and notes that there is something significant about it. The reason it’s noteworthy is both the intentionality of the act with full knowledge of the outcome and the seeming contradiction of Russian interests by creating problems for their alleged “useful idiot,” Trump. It’s the Russian propaganda act that is of great interest, not the least of which is the artfulness of the act.

      • Perhaps not propaganda as much as premature ejaculation?!

        Russia had been in touch with persons representing both campaigns. When you do not check the veracity of MSM propagandist’ assertions yet run with the propagandists’ bull-crap story you make yourself vulnerable to all who arrive better and more roundly armed…

  • Eol Awki

    I suspect a misinterpretation of what was said – if the above quote in the article is all that was said. If you break what was said down a bit, you can see the room for misinterpretation (or miss-translation):

    “Obviously, we know most of the people from his [Trump’s] entourage,” – These are well-known people in American political life – so of course they are known to us – this does not at all mean they were contacted or conspired with during the campaign

    “We have just begun to consider ways of building dialogue with the future Donald Trump administration and channels we will be using for those purposes,”

    The Russians want to develop ways of building dialogue that currently does not exist. They want also to create channels of communication for those purposes. These dialogues and channels do not currently exist.

    I think this article has misinterpreted what was said, or perhaps what was said was poorly translated.

  • sveltesvengali

    This somewhat reminds me of the purported though surprisingly under-reported statement of a deputy in the Russian State Duma in June that hung Edward Snowden out to dry…

    Frants Klintsevich (deputy chairman of the defense and security committee, according to Mary Louise Kelly’s translation on NPR):

    “Let’s be frank, Snowden did share intelligence [with Russia]. This is what security services do. If there’s a possibility to get information, they will get it.”

    (source: http://www.npr.org/2016/06/29/483890378/during-tenure-in-russia-edward-snowden-has-kept-a-low-profile )

    Without speculating excessively (and conceding that Snowden probably did give all of the files in his possession to journalists in Hong Kong before fleeing to Russia), John Schindler posits that the Russians may have extorted what comparatively little firsthand intelligence information that Snowden knew from his job(s) and then outed him when he had outlived his intelligence usefulness, despite narratives to the contrary (see here: http://www.bild.de/wa/ll/bild-de/unangemeldet-42925516.bild.html ).

    Whether this specific conjecture is true or not, I suspect that the motivation for making these statements about both Edward Snowden and Donald Trump is to sow confusion and reduce cohesion in an increasingly confused and un-cohesive political scene in the United States, irrespective of their actual validity.