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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/15/16

Is President Elect Donald Trump Connected To The Kremlin?

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Huffington Post

11/13/2016 09:16 am ET

When the facts consistently point in a given direction, what they point to is worthy of belief, and what is inconsistent with the facts is not. This is ordinarily what we mean by "the truth." So, what if the facts consistently and harmoniously played to the tune of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump having strong ties to the Russian Government? What if this couldn't be explained away as a fluke without squinting so much that it hurt? What if the facts consistently suggested that the man we are putting in charge of the greatest democracy on earth has dangerous ties to the Russian Government? In this article, I want to explore this possibility since, if true, it would be of momentous importance to the survival of America as a free and democratic nation.

Indeed, the very thought of such a possibility is so extraordinary that at first blush it would be hard to imagine. But, as Socrates admonished, the royal route to the truth is to question what we take for granted, to greet the facts with open arms, and to be prepared to travel wherever they may lead us. So, where do the alleged facts regarding Trump and the Russians take us?

First, there are reports covered extensively by the MSM suggesting that Trump admires Russian President Vladimer Putin:

" 1: Trump has praised Putin and has proclaimed that he is a stronger leader than Obama. "Certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader," stated Trump at a national security forum in September; and, earlier in December 2015 on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," he stated, "When people call you brilliant it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia"; and that he "always felt fine about Putin. He's a strong leader, a powerful leader."

" 2: Trump has also entertained ideas favorable to the Russians such as on not supporting NATO against Russian attacks, and cooperating with Russia and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad against ISIS.

But, while these facts, by themselves, suggest that Trump likes Putin and even agrees with him on some foreign policy issues, they do not prove that he is in bed with him. Add another report:

" 3: Former Trump Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort, has been reported to have had ties to the Pro-Russian ousted President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich. So now we are getting closer to a relationship, albeit an indirect one.

But add these other reports to the woodpile and things start to get more interesting:

" 4: In July, U.S. officials told NBC News that Russian hackers attacked two state voter registration databases, that of Illinois and Arizona. The hackers managed to download information on as many 200,000 Illinois voters. According to Politico, there were more than 20 state voter databases on which hacking attempts were made.

" 5: In October 2016, researchers maintained that there was a link between the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair John Podesta's emails and Russian hackers working for the Kremlin. According to the New York Times, private security researchers maintained Russia's foreign intelligence service, the GRU, tricked Podesta into clicking on a fake Google login page, handing over his digital credentials.

" 6: The DNC, not the Republican National Committee (RNC ), was hacked by the Russians. Perhaps Putin likes Trump because Trump likes him, but hates Clinton.

So maybe Putin targeted the Democrats for self-serving purposes not necessarily related to having ties with Trump. This can, indeed, explain report 6, but what motive would the Russians have had in the first place for stealing Podesta's emails? A reasonable explanation is that the Russians favored Trump over Clinton, and tried to help Trump win the election. Report 4 supports this explanation since it supports the Russian intent to interfere with the results of the US election. But this does not mean that Trump was a witting participant in the hackings. But what evidence is there, in the first place, that has led the intelligence community to claim that Russians working for high level officials in the Russian government did the hacking?

" 7: According to Wired , some of "the most compelling evidence" included "a command-and-control address hardcoded into the DNC malware," which was identical to malware used to hack the German Parliament in 2015, which German security officials claimed "originated from Russian military intelligence." And, "an identical SSL certificate was also found in both breaches." According to this report, there were also traces of metadata found in the document dump indicating that it had been translated into Cyrillic, the script used in Russian writing.

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Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is Technology of Oppression: Preserving Freedom and Dignity in an Age of Mass, Warrantless Surveillance(Palegrave Macmillan, 2014.) He is a Fellow at the (more...)

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