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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Putin and Trump

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Julia Davis at The Daily Beast reports that Russia is defending Trump after impeachment.
Such support would have been implausible for any other U.S. leader, much less one who claims to be “tough on Russia.” But bluster aside, Trump has been reluctant to sign off on additional Russian sanctions. Pro-Kremlin experts, lawmakers and talking heads believe President Trump would do away with most of the sanctions in record time if not for the U.S. Congress.
Bolstering these assumptions is the case of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany. On Friday, Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a provision sanctioning Nord Stream 2. But the project is just weeks away from completion and analysts doubt the imposition of sanctions at this late stage can be effective, much less halt the project.
The Trump administration meanwhile is opposing the bipartisan Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or “DASKA,” meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election and deter it from such actions in the future. The administration called the bill “unnecessary” in a 22-page letter to Congress. “The Trump administration stood up in defense of Russia against DASKA sanctions,” Russian media concluded.

The Kremlin is likewise continuing to stand up for President Trump. During President Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference in Moscow, he claimed that the impeachment was based on “absolutely made up” allegations. Echoing the GOP, the Russian president said, “The party that lost the [2016] election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results by other methods, other means." On Friday, Trump touted Vladimir Putin’s endorsement on his Twitter feed.

At WP, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig:
Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House.

After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions.

The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”