By Saurabh Malkar*
The 2016 US presidential election took an interesting, and what seems to be a protracted, turn in July last year when the DNC server was hacked and nearly 20,000 leaked emails were published by Wikileaks. The emails indicated infighting, unsavory feelings, quid-pro-quo deals, rigged town-hall events, and flip-flopping on policy positions.
The DNC blamed the Russians, despite their being very little evidence to support the claim. On the other hand, the Russian government denied any interference and a very furtive, self-styled hacker called Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be Romanian, took responsibility for the email dump. Guccifer 2.0 hung around for some time, before vanishing off the radar, leaking more sensitive information and exchanging correspondence with media outlets.
A few days after the email dump, US intelligence sources confidently established Russia to be the miscreant. Presidential nominee Donald Trump, initially, dismissed and made light of the Russia connection, but eventually capitulated and came round to accepting the Russia story.
What followed in the subsequent months was a series of dismissals from Trump team, wild mud-slinging, twitter outbursts, publication of defamatory material, and a long list of legislative and investigative procedures. A detailed timeline can be reviewed here.
Over the past few months, much of the progress on this story was bland and enjoyed an average news cycle life expectancy.
That seems to have changed in the past week and some rather unexpected turns seem to have occurred.
- A conservative website ‘Washington Free Beacon’ first commissioned Fusion GPS, the political research firm, between fall of 2015 and spring of 2016, to do homework on multiple Republican candidates, including Trump, and Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.
- Past this point, Fusion GPS was hired for opposition-research by Mark Elias, whose firm Perkins Coie worked with DNC and Hillary Clinton. $9 million were apportioned towards this undertaking. This move led to the hiring of Christopher Steele, a British spy, and the publication of the unverified and unsubstantiated set of memos, famously known as the ‘golden showers’ dossier.
(The dossier contained not only unverified sordid stories, but also allegations of cozy relations between Trump and Russia in an effort to boost his chances of winning. The latter became the fodder that the FBI relied upon to open a full-scale investigation into the Trump-Russia collusion hypothesis.)
- Hillary Clinton has mostly stayed mum over these new revelations.
- Breitbart News broke a story about the supposed ties between CNN and Fusion GPS.
- Bob Mueller’s impartiality and credibility in the Trump-Russia investigation has been called into question on account of a conflict of interest owing to his previous work as head of the bureau in the Obama era.
- Former president Barrack Obama’s official campaign platform gave close to $800,000 to the Perkins Coie, which funneled the money to Fusion GPS to compile the infamous dossier.
- In the light of these revelations, Trump happily quadrupled down on stomping Mrs. Clinton and the Democrats as he thumbed away tweet after tweet late Sunday. He invoked all of Hillary’s past sins and possibly laid the groundwork for an excuse were the tax reforms fail to clear the House and the Senate in time.
- Monday morning saw former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, indicted by Mueller’s grand jury on charges of money laundering, tax evasion, and foreign lobbying that occurred a long time ago.
- At the time of drafting this article, this showed up on my Twitter feed.
In summary, despite Trump team’s unsavory and clearly objectionable exchanges with people connected with the Russian government, including Putin, no substantial evidence incriminating Trump or his campaign of collusion has yet surfaced.
That doesn’t go to say that there is no chance of meddling and undermining of the American electoral process by Russia. There are sufficient indicators to service this claim.
So far, we understand that the opposition dispensed generous amounts of money and effort to dig up falsifiable information against Donald Trump to undermine his integrity and chances of winning the election.
A sitting president was also involved in the effort to defame a presidential candidate through underhanded measures.
The political Left and mainstream media, despite their best efforts, weren’t able to shake people’s confidence in Trump and his platform. As Rush Limbaugh has said on several occasions, and I paraphrase, Trump alone is responsible for building his reputation and public trust, and only Trump can cut the rug from under his feet.
Mrs. Clinton, with her sharp business skills, went on to author and promote her third memoir ‘What Happened,’ which is an effort to redistribute the responsibility of her loss from herself to everyone else. Sometimes, leftist principles, like redistribution, come handy.
Nearly a year of frenzied investigation at the hands of the FBI and the legislative body only yielded a couple of money-laundering tax crooks. Not amusing or productive at all!
The investigation, so far, is merely confirming the blowhard-in-chief’s remarks over Twitter and if it keeps going at this rate, he might self-acquit himself over social media.
America needs to overhaul its crumbling web security infrastructure ASAP.
(The story is developing and some summary points may need to be amended, if evidence to the contrary develops.)
About the author:
*Saurabh Malkar, an ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar
This article was published at Modern Diplomacy