ECLECTIC RANT: Russia, not Ukraine, Interfered in Our 2016 Presidential Election

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 29, 2019 - 04:30:00 PM

Dr. Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top expert on Russia, warned that Republicans Republicans loyal to Trump must stop pushing the “fictional narrative perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election because it plays into Vladimir Putin’s hand.” 

Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report is unambiguously clear on this point: Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and sought to help Donald Trump win the White House. The Mueller investigation did indict 26 Russian nationals and three Russian companies.  

Prior to the 2016 election, the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) warned that the Russian Government directed compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. "The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process." 

On January 2017, the Intelligence Community Assessment report on Russia's consistent goals "to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” This was done through cyberattacks and Russia’s state-run propaganda. For example, attacks were made into voter databases and software systems in at least thirty-nine states. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber hackers tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. 

The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee released a two-volume report, one in July 2019 and one in October 2019 concluding that, “This detailed, bipartisan report adds further incontrovertible proof to what we have long known to be true: Russia was relentless in its efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. 

In a classified briefing this fall, U.S. intelligence officials told senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a years-long disinformation campaign to shift the blame away from Russia and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 American presidential campaign. This briefing was similar to Dr. Hill’s testimony. 

Extensive evidence gathered by U.S. intelligence has shown that Russia was the key actor in social media meddling and the hacking of Democratic servers in the 2016 campaign. During the now-famous July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Mr. Trump said, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike ... The server, they say Ukraine has it.” 

CrowdStrike, a private security firm, is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking. However, CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Russian-born American, not a Ukrainian. CrowdStrike was hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate and expunge the hackers responsible for the 2016 breach.  

Yet, even with the overwhelming evidence that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 presidential election with no credible evidence to the contrary, as late as late as November 22, Trump continued to peddle this debunked Ukraine theory during part of a phone call with Fox & Friends. And some of Trump enablers in Congress still push this false narrative.  

I surmise that Republican support of this Russian disinformation campaign is designed to muddy the impeachment inquiry, to make Ukraine less sympathetic to the public, and divert attention away from the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and likely interference in the 2020 election. I suspect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republican Senators would welcome “help” in the 2020 presidential election. 

As Dr. Hill testified, “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian Security Services themselves.” By repeating this “false narrative,” Trump and his enablers do a disservice to this country and are aiding and abetting Russia.