At first, the idea seemed so odd that even in this year of surreal politics, it was over the top. But with apparently clear evidence that Russia hacked the DNC and released information designed to harm the Clinton campaign, there’s a question that has to be asked: Why?
Why would Russia hack into the emails of one American political party and push out selected information on the brink of that party’s convention? Just why would Russia want to harm the chances of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton?
Increasingly, the answer seems clear: Because the Kremlin wants Trump.
The theory that Moscow orchestrated the leaks to help Trump—who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and practically called for the end of NATO—is fast gaining currency within the Obama administration because of the timing of the leaks and Trump’s own connections to the Russian government, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and developing quickly.
The connections between Trump and Putin go beyond a mutual admiration society and dip deeply into Trump’s hidden finances. And it certainly looks like the Russians are getting a good return on their Trump investment.
… the Trump campaign, which generally took no interest in the Republican Party’s official platform, took special care to add language about U.S. policy towards Ukraine – a new position that contradicts GOP foreign-policy orthodoxy – that brings the platform in line with the policies of the Russian government.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the NATO alliance, hinting that he would refuse to come to the aid of states he found less than worthy.
… asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
Trump has frequently made statements about Putin, going beyond even the bizarre levels of Republican admiration for an anti-democratic dictator and into defending Putin for invading other countries and murdering journalists.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not?
TRUMP: He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: But, again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him.
TRUMP: Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.
Meanwhile, Putin also had good things to say about Trump.
Officials also noted Trump’s own connections to the Russian government. Putin has publicly praised the nominee, who said he was “honored” by the compliment.
On the Ukraine issue, the connection between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin is very clear.
Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was a consultant for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine who was ousted for his pro-Moscow orientation (and now lives in Russia).
The financial links between Trump and Moscow are more than just a beauty pageant.
1. All the other discussions of Trump's finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.
2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin.
Trump is in deep to Russian oligarchs under the thumb of Putin. How deep? We don’t know. Because Trump won’t release his financial information.
Meanwhile, while speaking to the Russian press service, Tass, Putin’s spokesman cited Donald Trump Jr.
"They (democrats) spoke about hackers (who allegedly have ties to Russia)," Peskov said. "Mr. Trump Jr. has already strongly responded to them denying all this."
At the very least, Trump and Putin have demonstrated a twisted relationship based around a mutual disdain for human rights, free speech, and international law. At the same time, Russian forces are already directly intervening in an American election in an attempt to alter the outcome. That’s perhaps the most extraordinary and disturbing aspect of an election season already marked by deep threats to the continuation of democracy. Pile on top of that Trump’s financial dependence on Russian oligarchs to prop up his crumbling empire.
Vladimir Putin is clearly in Donald Trump’s corner and working for his election. Donald Trump is clearly an admirer of Putin … and quite possibly more than just an admirer.