During Sunday's second presidential debate, Donald Trump disclaimed any knowledge or or coordination with Russian intelligence and/or Vladimir Putin to release damaging information (much of it seemingly fabricated as shown below) on Hillary Clinton. Yet a piece in Newsweek raises serious questions about the truthfulness of Trump's statement - yes, such a shock, Trump was lying - and suggests that Russian intelligence agent, Putin himself, and Wikileaks may be conspiring to release falsified documents to harm Clinton's election prospects and the DNC. As the piece reveals, these crude attempts are not even being done well. The question is one of how many will fall for the falsified documents. I've already seen some bogus websites talking about a supposedly "smoking gun" on Benghazi. The problem is, however, that the cretins at Russian intelligence and/or Wikileaks are attributing statements to the wrong people. And Trump immediately repeated the lie. Here are highlights from the Newsweek piece by the author who was quoted as if he were Sidney Blumenthal:
I am Sidney Blumenthal. At least, that is what Vladimir Putin—and, somehow, Donald Trump—seem to believe. And that should raise concerns about not only Moscow’s attempts to manipulate this election but also how Trump came to push Russian disinformation to American voters.
An email from Blumenthal—a confidant of Hillary Clinton and a man, second only to George Soros, at the center of conservative conspiracy theories—turned up in the recent document dump by WikiLeaks. At a time when American intelligence believes Russian hackers are trying to interfere with the presidential election, records have been fed recently to WikiLeaks out of multiple organizations of the Democratic Party, raising concerns that the self-proclaimed whistleblower group has become a tool of Putin’s government. But now that I have been brought into the whole mess—and transformed into Blumenthal—there is even more proof that the Russians are not only orchestrating this act of cyberwar but also really, really dumb.
The evidence emerged thanks to the incompetence of Sputnik, the Russian online news and radio service established by the government-controlled news agency, Rossiya Segodnya.
Almost as soon as the pilfered documents emerged, Sputnik was all over them and rapidly found (or probably already knew about before the WikiLeaks dump) a purportedly incriminating email from Blumenthal.
The email was amazing—it linked Boogie Man Blumenthal, Podesta and the topic of conservative political fever dreams, Benghazi. This, it seemed, was the smoking gun finally proving Clinton bore total responsibility for the attack on the American outpost in Libya in 2012. Sputnik even declared that the email might be the “October surprise” that could undermine Clinton’s campaign.
Those words sounded really, really familiar. Really familiar. Like, so familiar they struck me as something I wrote. Because they were something I wrote.
The Russians were quoting two sentences from a 10,000-word piece I wrote for Newsweek, which Blumenthal had emailed to Podesta.
Of course, this might be seen as just an opportunity to laugh at the incompetence of the Russian hackers and government press—once they realized their error, Sputnik took the article down. But then things got even more bizarre.
This false story was reported only by the Russian-controlled agency (a reference appeared in a Turkish publication, but it was nothing but a link to the Sputnik article). So how did Donald Trump end up advancing the same falsehood put out by Putin’s mouthpiece?
At a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump spoke while holding a document in his hand. He told the assembled crowd that it was an email from Blumenthal, whom he called “sleazy Sidney.”
“This just came out a little while ago,’’ Trump said. “I have to tell you this.” And then he read the words from my article.
“He’s now admitting they could have done something about Benghazi,’’ Trump said, dropping the document to the floor. “This just came out a little while ago.”
The crowd booed and chanted, “Lock her up!”
This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin? (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)
I find this VERY disturbing. As for Trump, regular readers already know my views. The same goes for Putin who I see as the latest in a line of Russian rulers over the last 98 years who have betrayed the Russian people.