Budowsky: Can Putin elect Trump?

Budowsky: Can Putin elect Trump?
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A political column is in the realm of opinion and here is mine, with considerable evidence to support it.

Russian dictator and former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, whose political opponents in Russia periodically suffer premature and unexplained deaths, is pursuing an aggressive campaign to elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDem rep: Nunes acting ‘aggressive,’ ‘unusual’ The Democratic Party playbook must change if liberals are to win the future How Gorsuch's SCOTUS tap is a painful reminder of civic ignorance MORE president and commander in chief.

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Putin’s campaign for Trump involves espionage, cyberwar and infowar, to covertly find or fabricate material about Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton targets Trump in speech, urging supporters to 'resist, insist, persist, enlist' Clinton defends April Ryan, Rep. Maxine Waters in speech Lobbying world MORE and then distribute it to Russia-friendly organizations such as WikiLeaks and infect headline-hungry mainstream media and click-hungry internet outlets.

The key words here, which are carefully chosen, are “war” and “fabricate.” 

If Putin’s purpose is to elect Trump, whose policies would be more pro-Russia and pro-Putin than any American or Western leader in modern history, it would constitute an act of war no different in intent or result than a Russian military invasion of America — an act designed to defeat an opponent Putin deplores, Hillary Clinton, and elect a president he believes serves his imperial ambitions.

The word “fabricate” is important as well. Russian military and intelligence services have a powerful capacity to manufacture and distribute fraudulent materials in ways and for purposes that are well known throughout law enforcement, intelligence and counter-intelligence circles. 

If Putin’s plan culminates in an “October surprise” it will backfire against Putin and Trump, because American officials will do whatever it takes to prevent a Russian dictator from influencing or deciding the election of an American president.

Based on public information, it is no secret that many American law enforcement and intelligence officials believe that Russia orchestrated espionage against the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other organizations to pursue nefarious ends.

It is not surprising that one major distribution of the fruits of this Russian espionage, cyberwar and infowar occurred around the time of the Democratic National Convention. One need not be John le Carré or 007 to figure out the Russian plan behind this.

Multiple media organizations have also reported that counterintelligence and law enforcement officials believe Russia is behind projects to hack election machinery in key states, for the purpose, in my opinion, of disrupting voter turnout and fixing vote counting.

Nor is it a secret, as recently reported in detail by The Washington Post, that American law enforcement and counterintelligence officials are conducting a major investigation into Russian espionage against the American electoral process.

Intelligence officials have provided sensitive briefings to congressional leaders. I do not know what was revealed in these briefings, but they place a substantial responsibility on Republican leaders if they know about Russian espionage against American elections designed to advantage the GOP nominee.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanTrump's approval takes hit after failed GOP healthcare plan How the GOP’s ‘Access to Care’ bill cuts down states’ rights Tax reform an important part of pro-consumer energy policy MORE (R-Wis.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOversight chair: 'Ridiculous' to call for investigation into Nunes The Hill's 12:30 Report Secret Service agents set for discipline after fence-jumping incident: report MORE (R-Utah) should do the right thing for America and launch a bipartisan investigation of Russian espionage against American elections, rather than again abuse taxpayer trust and violate House rules by pursuing yet another partisan inquisition against the Democratic nominee for president.

Clinton and Trump should debate Trump’s views that he is not unequivocally committed to defending Europe against a potential Russian invasion, that Russian annexation of Crimea could be justified, that Russia is not “in Ukraine” and that Europe should be divided through the British exit — one that furthers a Russian strategic goal — and the racial divisions Trump creates.

Trump crossed an inviolable line when he appeared to support Russian espionage, cyber war and info war against America for partisan reasons, a line that should be denounced by all Republicans and rejected by all voters.

Is Putin working to elect Trump? I believe he is. Will he succeed? No, he will not.

The idea of a Russian dictator choosing an American president is so dangerous, extreme and obnoxious to those who protect our security that if Putin persists, one way or the other, the plot will be exposed before Election Day in a radioactive scandal that will explode in the hands of Donald Trump.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.