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by Ralph Seliger
THAT MEETING of Donald Junior, Kushner, and Manafort with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Clinton goes to the cusp of violating the law -- even if it resulted in nothing. Why so? Because there’s a federal law that prohibits receiving or even seeking help from a foreign source in any U.S. election.
The real impact of Russian interference that I see -- and is never emphasized -- was Wikileaks releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee that showed that the DNC strongly favored Clinton over Sanders. There is no substantial likelihood that this prevented Sanders from winning, but many of his supporters believed this to be the case. Wikileaks had this material as a result of a successful hack of John Podesta’s email account -- almost certainly a Russian espionage operation. This release, just as the Democratic Convention was beginning, led to the resignation of the DNC chair, and reinforced the antipathy of most of the Democratic Party’s left (the pro-Sanders faction) that actually played out on the floor of the convention.
Clinton made the problem worse by not adequately attempting to mollify the party’s left (unlike Trump’s very successful courting of the GOP’s center and right). For one thing, this would have meant a different choice for vice presidential running mate. Trump, on the other hand, was very well served by nominating Mike Pence.
Then Anthony Weiner’s wiener reemerged in an entirely lucky way for Trump, when Comey announced investigating Weiner’s email because of the FBI’s discovery that some of Hillary Clinton’s emails were transferred there from Huma Abedin. Nothing criminal emerged from that investigation, but it appears to have affected the outcome, as the media noted a sudden shift in mood between the Trump and Clinton camps. The razor-thin margins that unexpectedly carried Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for Trump and accounted for his astounding win in the Electoral College (even while Clinton led in the national popular vote by 2.8 million) reflected both disaffected Dems not voting for Hillary in those states, and Trump supporters suddenly feeling buoyed by Comey’s announcement eleven days prior to the election.
The PBS Newshour aired a daily series, July 10-14, on Putin’s Russia. The July 11 segment was very instructive on how Russia influenced the perceptions of American voters with relentless fake news propaganda efforts online, and by seeping into FOX News and other American media organs. Click here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/
Ralph Seliger, our contributing writer, is a veteran editor, freelance writer, and blogger. He edited Israel Horizons from 2003 until 2011, when it was discontinued, and currently co-administers the blogs for Ameinu and The Third Narrative.