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Connect the Dots: Obama … Russia … Putin … Trump … Election

If this feels distressing and repugnant, remember that for decades the U.S. surreptitiously meddled in regime support and change in sovereign nations around the world.

(1) Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied Crimea in 2014.

(2) Obama quickly imposed sanctions on Russia, soon adopted by the European Union.

(3) The Russian economy collapsed and remains in shambles because of those sanctions and the oil market crash, stemming partly from record U.S. oil/gas production under Obama.

(4) Hurt the most was Vladimir Putin, in his dual roles as president and richest man in Russia – maybe the world – with a fortune up to $200 billion.

(5) As the U.S. presidential race began, Putin, a wily and nefarious former KGB officer, praised the most erratic candidate, Donald Trump, as “colorful and talented.”

(6) Trump called that compliment “a great honor,” adding: “I’m going to praise him back.”

(7) Trump predicted he would “get along very well” with Putin, and it would be “great” if the U.S. “gets along with Russia.”

(8) Hillary Clinton said the U.S. should continue sanctions against Russia and increase aid to Ukraine.

(9) But Trump said he would consider easing the sanctions.

(10) Trump also questioned the role of NATO – the bulwark against Russia, even doubting that the U.S. need defend a NATO ally if attacked.

(11) Trump picked as his second campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had financial ties to Putin’s pro-Russia allies in Ukraine.

(12) At the behest of Trump agents, the Republican party platform was watered down on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

(13) Trump claimed “a relationship” with Putin, then admitted they’d never met nor spoken. Trump also claimed: “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.” In fact, they were on unrelated segments taped in Moscow and NY.

(14) Michael Flynn, a rogue U.S. general fired from the military, spoke at the GOP convention supporting Trump.

(15) Flynn made paid appearances on Russian state tv, for sums he declined to disclose, and attended a banquet seated next to Putin.

(16) After being nominated, Trump began receiving official intelligence briefings, accompanied by Flynn, who was disruptive.

(17) In July, Trump was inexplicably oblivious to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine under Putin: “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.” TV anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that Russia had already invaded Ukraine and occupied Crimea.

(18) Computer experts found intriguing electronic tracks of numerous exchanges between Trump’s server and a Russian bank.

(19) U.S. intelligence agencies said Russians hacked emails for WikiLeaks that embarrassed Democrats and hurt Hillary Clinton.

(20) Trump publicly called on Russia to hack and release more Clinton emails.

(21) During the summer, U.S. intelligence identified Russians as hacking both Democratic and Republican emails but only releasing Democratic ones to hurt Clinton. This finding was not publicized.

(22) Obama ordered a secret briefing for Congressional leaders in September about Russia’s hacking and asked bipartisan support to release it. Republicans, notably Senate Majority Leader McConnell, objected and blocked it.

(23) In the last presidential debate, Clinton warned that the Russians were hacking U.S. targets to tilt the election. Trump disputes it.

(24) After winning the presidency in the Electoral College, Trump named Flynn as National Security Advisor.

(25) Computer experts identified Russian hoaxers as sources of numerous fake news posts attacking Clinton, praising Trump and raising false concerns about foreign turmoil throughout the campaign.

(26) Trump picks as Transportation Secretary the wife of McConnell, who blocked the release of Russia’s political hacking before the election.

(27) Obama orders intelligence agencies to report all their findings on Russian interference for him to release.

(28) Washington Post reveals the summer intelligence findings, the secret briefing of Congressional leaders and McConnell’s blocking the release.

(29) Trump picks as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Exxon Mobil chief with no government or diplomatic experience who had signed a deal with Putin worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Russia accorded him high state honors. But the deal was disrupted by Obama’s sanctions for the Ukraine invasion. Tillerson opposed sanctions and now is in a key position to lift them.

(30) No one can prove that Russia’s intrusions and links — hacked emails, fake news posts, complimenting Trump, paying Trump cronies Manafort and Flynn, Tillerson oil deal, etc. — tipped our U.S. election. But Russia hoped to have an impact. In an Electoral College contest decided by about 76,000 votes out of 14 million cast in three states, it’s quite possible it succeeded in derailing hardliner Clinton and elevating erratic dupe Trump and his pro-Russia cronies.

(31) This is speculative, but since Russians hacked Republican emails, they surely could have hacked Trump’s emails, too. Who knows what strategic information – and possible blackmail – the Kremlin now holds.

(32) P.S. If this feels distressing and repugnant, remember that for decades the U.S. surreptitiously meddled in regime support and change in sovereign nations around the world. It doesn’t feel right when someone does that to us, does it?

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