Presidential Campaign

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the vast right-wing Russia conspiracy of 2016

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Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and big winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, stepped forward this week with a fusillade of criticism at President Trump, who took the bait and quickly responded on Twitter.

Most in the media, which she criticized strongly, have missed the most important aspect of Clinton’s presentation. She went further than most in making the strong suggestion that there probably was collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and she described in detail the reasons she believes this.

When Clinton on Wednesday yet again tried to blame others for her defeat, she did her case no service. Voters are tired of hearing politicians, including Clinton, blame others for their failures while failing to take full responsibility for their mistakes. The less Clinton talks about the blame game in the future the better, and the more Clinton talks about the implications of the Russians electing any American president the better.

My view is that during the 2016 campaign there was a vast right-wing Russian conspiracy to attack and destroy Clinton in which the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence systematically and simultaneously used exactly the same tactics, pursuing exactly the same strategy, driving home exactly the same attacks, using exactly the same technology, spreading exactly the same fake news and phony attacks, to exactly the same pool of voters, in exactly the same states, for exactly the same purposes of driving down her vote in key states.

What Clinton discussed at length on Wednesday made the theoretical case for collusion and coordination, and while she did not use the phrase “vast right-wing Russia conspiracy,” the sum total of the points she detailed support this case precisely.

{mosads}In the 1990s when Bill Clinton was under attack from Republicans, Hillary Clinton invented the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy,” to describe the media and technological means of spreading fake news and phony attacks, even in the ’90s, through backchannels of leaks and rumors pushed into very visible media channels.


What happened in the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton was a vast right-wing Russia conspiracy, based on the exact same strategy and tactics of the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, to spread fake news and false rumors against Clinton and target that news to selected voters through data analytics and sophisticated technology.

The Trump campaign did this, Russian intelligence did this; one of the major questions under investigation is whether there was either collusion or coordination between them when they did this. Clinton in her presentation Wednesday came close to directly accusing the Trump campaign and the Russians of coordinating and collusion. This is a highly plausible charge — one I personally suspect will be proven true — but there is no publicly known proof at this time.

Be warned, Republicans. These conspiratorial Russian attacks will someday be targeted against you, and very possibly against Trump. Future elections could become a nightmare of Russian cyberwar, Chinese cyberwar, Iranian cyberwar and North Korean cyberwar, all simultaneously attacking Republicans or Democrats.

The best line in Clinton’s presentation, which was probably the bait that hooked Trump to offer an angry Twitter response, was when she joked that when the president strangely used wrote “covfefe” in a tweet he might have been sending a secret signal to the Russians. 

This Clinton dig against Trump used humor to dramatize the major point of her attack, which was to tie Trump tightly to Russia and provoke him to a response that kept his Russia problem in the news — a trap he fell into.

My hope and advice would be for Clinton to speak no more about who she blames for her defeat, a topic citizens are not interested in, but to speak much more about the implications of the vast right-wing Russia conspiracy and the implications of President Trump repeatedly taking actions that help Russian intelligence undermine Western democracy in America and Europe.

American conservatives should demand that no Republican make excuses for Russian attacks against democracy and that all Republicans join Democrats in fully investigating how far a vast right-wing Russian conspiracy did or did not go in the Trump campaign in 2016.

Brent 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.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 presidential election Bill Clinton Fake News Hillary Clinton media Russia

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