Opinion: A Tale of 3 Russian Scandals

By Tian Yuan, Epoch Times
October 26, 2017 1:25 pm Last Updated: October 26, 2017 9:51 pm

An informant for the FBI gathered a large amount of financial records, secret recordings, and emails that show a Russian state nuclear company compromised an American company with bribes, kickbacks, and threats on American soil, according to The Hill.

That purchase by the Russian company of 20 percent of America’s uranium reserves was approved by the Obama administration. The fact that the deal went through was nothing short of extraordinary. Russia is a geopolitical foe, and uranium is the basic material for making atomic bombs.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into the Russian bribery case, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted in a congressional hearing on Oct. 18 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) may have started its own investigation.

Before the Russian bribery scandal came to light, there were two Russian-related scandals the mainstream media desperately tried to keep alive, despite a lack of credible evidence. Both were said to center around President Donald Trump.

The nuclear bribery is a Russian scandal of a different kind: Trump and his associates are not involved, and probably more importantly, it took place in the Obama era, with Hillary Clinton being one of the central figures involved in suspected misdeeds (again).

For these reasons, the American mainstream media have suddenly lost their appetite for reporting on Russia’s brazen attempts to undermine the national security of the United States.

A Tale Without Evidence

In Trump–Russian collusion narrative No. 1, Trump is said to have colluded with Russia to undermine the Democratic Party and Clinton. Consequently, Trump’s election victory was a fraud, and he should be removed from office. Under this scenario, Clinton would be the duly elected president of the United States.

The evidence put forward by media organizations included a dossier, illegally leaked telephone call transcripts, and meetings between people in Trump’s inner circle and the Russians.

The dossier was widely discredited as a smear operation orchestrated by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm aligned with Democratic interests. Among its notable work, Fusion GPS was hired by the Democrats during the 2012 presidential election to dig up dirt on Mitt Romney. The firm was also part of Planned Parenthood’s efforts to invalidate sting videos that made the organization look bad.

At the same time Fusion GPS commissioned the dossier, the firm was involved in a pro-Russian lobbying campaign aimed at dismantling the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions officials of foreign governments suspected of human rights abuses. Although Fusion GPS worked on this for at least two years, having been hired by the Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the firm did not register as a foreign agent, possibly violating U.S. law.

In a meeting attended by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., Veselnitskaya claimed to have information on Clinton but failed to deliver. It was later revealed that the lawyer was granted entry to the United States by the Obama DOJ under “extraordinary circumstances.”

Founders and partners of Fusion GPS Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan were subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee. As expected, on Oct. 18 the duo pleaded the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination, refusing to answer any questions related to the dossier.

The Russia probe consistently failed to turn up factual evidence implicating Trump, and even the most staunch Clinton media allies can only beat a dead horse for so long. To keep the Russian collusion narrative alive, they opened a second front.

The Tale of the Mighty Russian Trolls

In narrative No. 2, Russian troll farms either controlled by or linked to the Kremlin started a misinformation war on American social media platforms during the 2016 election. The sole aim of the Russian trolls was said to be spreading anti-Clinton sentiment, throwing the election in Trump’s favor. As a result, Trump’s victory is said to be illegitimate.

The reality is much more complicated than the media wants you to believe. There were some fake social media accounts promoting pro-Russia worldviews, and some seemed to support Trump. But there were also some high-profile accounts posting Democrat-themed messages.

One of the alleged imposter accounts on Facebook is a group called United Muslims of America. The group also had a Twitter account with the handle @muslims_in_usa and an Instagram account, @muslim_voice.

The Facebook group sang high praises for Clinton, saying she was “the only presidential candidate who refuses to ‘demonize’ Islam after the Orlando nightclub shooting.” It added, “With such a person in White House America will easily reach the bright multicultural future.”

The group had amassed some 260,000 followers and 71.4 million shares before the account was closed by Facebook.

Another purported fake account linked to Russia, Blacktivist, had a presence on both Facebook and Twitter. One tweet from @Blacktivist read, “Black people should wake up as soon as possible.” Another said, “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men.”

The Blacktivist Facebook account received 360,000 likes before it was closed, beating the verified Black Lives Matter account on Facebook.

These accounts were likely trying to sow discord and to promote racial division in America. However, to say Trump and his candidacy benefited from their activities is groundless. If anything, the Democrats and Clinton seemed to be the intended beneficiaries.

So far, Facebook has detected 470 alleged Russian-linked accounts; Twitter has identified about 200. In comparison to Facebook’s 2 billion and Twitter’s 328 million monthly active users, the alleged fake accounts are a drop in the bucket.

According to The New York Times, Facebook estimated that less than 0.1 percent of all the posts related to the 2016 election resulted from “information operations” like the Russian campaign. On top of that, the posts of the alleged Russia accounts were often crude and off-key. Many of the suspect posts received little engagement.

Facebook said the 470 fake accounts bought about $100,000 worth of advertising between June 2015 and May 2017. But most of the ads did not support particular candidates, instead focusing on social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control, and immigration.

That’s all the evidence there is. According to the mainstream media, the Russians, armed with a couple hundred social media accounts (some of which supported Democratic causes), made impotent the reporting of a cadre of Clinton media allies, including The New York Times. With a puny budget, the Russians managed to outperform the Clinton campaign’s $1.1 billion ad blitz.

If this is the Russian influence campaign, it is probably the strangest and dumbest information war ever. It is aimless, poorly funded, unpolished, and ineffective.

The Russian collusion probe will eventually turn out to be a dud, despite the massive witch hunt by the Democrats. It is not because they haven’t tried hard enough; it is because Trump didn’t collude with Russia or Putin.

The real goal of the probe is twofold. One is to get at Trump and his family in any way possiblelegally, politically, and financially. The other goal is to bog down Trump and slow his reform agenda. The Democrats may win some battles, but could lose the war.

 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.