Latest RussiaGate Allegation

In an article today on the RT website (which you can read here), I discuss the latest Russiagate allegation coming out of the stable of Luke Harding and The Guardian. This takes the form of a claim that the Guardian has seen top secret Kremlin documents which detail a decision by the Russian National Security Council in 2016 to exert all efforts to ensure Donald Trump’s election as US president.

I assume Harding isn’t lying about seeing some documents. But are they real? Or are they forgeries? Without seeing them, without knowing a lot more about how the Guardian got them, and without a whole lot more additional information, we just can’t tell. How can one assess something one only knows about from somebody else? One can’t. But as I explain in my article, there are some reasons to doubt their veracity – not to 100% rule out the possibility that they’re real, that’s kind of hard when we know next to nothing about them – but certainly to treat the story with a large dose of salt.

What makes me take this stance is not just the source of the information – Harding is not no. 1 on my list of reliable journalists (see my review of his book Collusion for an explanation of why). Deeper than that, my issue is that the documents seems to me to be exactly what some Russiagate conspiracy theorist would come up with if s/he was to sitting in his/her basement trying to imagine what a Russian plot to steal the US election would look like. In that sense, they seem to be a reflection of anti-Trump American views of the world, rather than Russian ones. That doesn’t mean they’re fake, but it’s a reason not to take the Guardian’s claims at face value.

Let me explain.

First, as I say in my article, there’s no mention of Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton and her perceived hostility to Russia. Nor is there any discussion of Trump’s election promises to improve relations with the Russian Federation. This is odd. One would have thought that this would have been a prime motivation for any Russian conspiracy to elect Trump.

Instead, the supposed motivation for the Russian campaign of election ‘meddling’ is to ‘destabilize’ the US. As I see it, Russian leaders have never shown any particular interest in this. I’m not aware of anyone in authority ever even have expressed a preference for an unstable America. On the contrary, they tend to emphasize stability. So, the internal condition of the USA is not an obvious Russian concern.

But it is an American concern. Paranoia about internal instability became a big thing during Trump’s rule. But – and here’s another thing – it took a bit of time for that to happen. In other words, it was a big American concern, but not until a bit after the 2016 election. In that sense, the idea that the Kremlin was plotting in early 2016 to ‘destabilize’ the USA seems like a retroactive reflection of the later worries of American anti-Trumpers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Kremlin hierarchy wasn’t amazingly prescient, nor that it wasn’t saying one thing while secretly believing another. But it’s certainly a reason for a being a little bit suspicious.

Then, there’s a bit in the documents in which the Russians supposedly call Trump ‘mentally unstable’ and revel in the chaos that having such a lunatic in the White House will cause in America. Again, this strikes me as a particularly anti-Trump American take on things. Trump’s crazy – all anti-Trumpers know that. But would that have been how Russian officials in early 2016 looked at things? Well, maybe. One can’t rule it out. But I have to wonder.

And finally, there’s the implication in the documents that the entire Russiagate plot to ‘interfere’ in the US elections was a highly centralized, carefully coordinated campaign directed by Putin himself.

Yes, indeed, it is possible that such a thing was decided centrally and supervised from the very top. But the concept of Russia as an autocratic system in which Putin and his inner circle decide everything strikes me once again as fitting very neatly into Western conceptions of how Russia operates rather than what is necessarily the case.

I’m not going to say that the Guardian’s documents are fake. As I said, you can’t do that without much more information. But do I think that anybody can use them as proof of a Russian plot against American democracy? No, not without a whole lot more corroboration. Claim after claim about the alleged Trump-Russia relationship has been used to ‘prove’ that Russia got Trump elected and that Trump colluded with the Russians in the process, and claim after claim has been shown to be total bunk. In the circumstances, scepticism seems to me to be the only justified response.

37 thoughts on “Latest RussiaGate Allegation”

  1. Well if you won’t I will – they are fake.

    Amongst many other things (like the failure to prosecute successfully the Internet Research Agency despite allegedly stone cold proof….) we have Hillary’s own relationship with Russia. Taker of a massive donation to the Bill & Hillary foundation after Uranium One was sold to Rosatom with her signature approving the deal.

    Hillary was exposed to Russian blackmail, not Trump. And the whole Trump Russia story started in Dec 2015 when her own focus group studies showed her vulnerable to attacks on her over this deal.

    Clearly the Russian preference would have been Hillary over Trump. (something you touch on at the end of the RT piece).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. michaeldroy, should I add babble alert? I doubt the Uranian One deal was so out of the ordinary, and I may have followed matters around H. Clinton closer after her no doubt curious private email-account usage as Secretary of State surfaced, than average events around whatever other American before or in hindsight her and more prominently her husband’s earlier struggles …

      But your spontaneous response, I suppose, is interesting.

      For me, as an outsider, it seemed to be more interesting that she became a presidential candidate in spite of all the controversies floating around her …

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      1. or in hindsight [after] her and more prominently her husband’s earlier struggles …

        which hilariously ended with a sperm spoiled dress, apparently carefully kept as a trophy.

        I wished during the larger Hillary affair we would have been able to return post Benghazi to those … easier kind of matters.

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      2. Do you work full time countering allegations against Hillary? – must be busy work.
        The $145m given by the seller to the Bill and Hillary fund was exceptional and barely believable. Even if you believe it was entirely in good faith and unrelated to the sale to Russia that she coincidentally approved, it remains a stunning event.
        To suggest otherwise is to be purely in coverup mode.

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  2. Instead of looking at the reasons why so many million voted for Trump in 2016 and even more millions again in 2020 – they blame Russia for his rise to the presidency.

    Trump was a phenomenon in 2016. His election campaign was dynamic and it was entertaining.

    He also came across as less of a warmonger than Hillary and the peace candidate usually wins ( Americans don’t like forever wars)

    My favourite part of the campaign was when Trump was on the ropes after a tape of him saying derogatory things about women was leaked –

    He then invited the women who accused Bill Clinton of harassment and assault and held a press conference.
    Completely stopping the attacks on him. The picture of Bill Clinton at that event when he realised the women were there was a sight to behold!

    In the John Podesta emails it was revealed that Hillary wanted Trump to win as she assumed that he would be easy to beat

    Hillary and the mainstream media who gave Trump millions of dollars in free advertising “were to blame” for Trump being elected

    As for Luke Harding he is a grifter and he is a symbol of the guardians decline.

    He has a history of plagiarism and telling lies -(Manafort meeting Assange)

    The story is fake it’s all about USA domestic fight and the need to crush Trump.

    Russiagate is a story without Russia

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Methinks you are too kind to the Guardian and to Luke Harding in particular. He is a famous purveyor of unsubstantiated stories. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus may no longer be used in law but we can still use our own judgment.

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  4. Unlike most here I read the article and I saw the screen shots of the documents and I am fairly convinced. They actually use the language and the font style of Russian federal documents. Furthermore instead of the bad 1980s vibe of the Steele Dossier, the documents actually speak in the rational, bureaucratic, evidence based language the Russian state has used since Peter the Great. The analysis may have been flawed – namely that an unstable United States is necessarily beneficial or even desirable for Russia – but it otherwise shows clear headed insights into the US domestic situation that were obvious to those paying attention, for example the general anti-establishment disillusionment that set in the United States from 2014 onward. The objectives it states, rather than being Bond villain ‘world domination’ stuff that you hear from the Steele dossier reflect the fear and anxiety Russian leaders express in public about what has happened as a result of the events in Ukraine and they hope by helping Trump they will at worst destabilise the US and its ability to act in Europe or better still get some kind of favourable outcome in Ukraine. That last bit is also why I think the documents are genuine. The Russians consistently overestimated Trump’s willingness to help Russia and often ascribed a plan where there was just an emotional liking for a ‘strong man ruler’ as Trump saw Putin rather than any pro-Russia or even pro-peace thoughts Trump had. It was also known that Medvedev and those close to him were not very enthusiastic about supporting Trump because Medvedev knew businessmen who had dealt with Trump and they said he and anyone around him was suspicious and not to be trusted.

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    1. I personally don’t know whether Putin supported Trump or not; or meddled or not. I would think the Russian government has every right in the world to meddle in American politics. If they did, more power to them! If they didn’t, maybe they should!

      On the other hand, I see RT America every day spouting B.S. Trumpism and boring anti-woke dogma in their op-eds. Even borderline racism, which I called them out on, in my blog.
      Like, they make it a point to cover every single black-on-white criminal act they can find in the newspapers, almost as if trying to create an impression of n-words totally out of control and in dire need of police batons!
      🙂

      In conclusion: I believe that Russian “thinkers” and propagandists have the right to mess up America as much as they like; but I just wish Putin had better politics with with to hoist Americans on his bully-pulpit petard. Instead of criticizing American government from the right….
      😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Russians were pushing on an open door. Their efforts in support of Trump paled in comparison to the vast resources sunk by Rupert Murdoch and the Republican misinformation apparatus (which has been at this game since 1980 and getting more pronounced each election cycle) to promote it.

        As to why the Democrats are focusing on Russian aid to Trump, as marginal and – in the grand scheme of what was being done to help Trump – pathetic as it is it is a good expedient way to at long last wipe away the ‘Democrats are foreign spies’ Republican talking point and tar them with it instead. This also explains, as the professor has pointed out elsewhere, why Biden so far has engaged Russia more constructively than Trump and so far not indulged the hardliners in his administration. The Russiagate material is useful to show up the Republicans but it is no reason to escalate things still further with the Russians. The real problem are the Republicans.

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      2. My two cents: Democrats are already thoroughly prepped to be antagonistic toward Russia. By referring to Trump as mentally unstable (and per RU, ‘perfect for destabilizing America’), not only does it reinforce Democrats’ beliefs but it also accelerates the fractures within the Republican Party and preps Trump supporters for further antagonism toward Russia. (How could one dare think of my hero as mentally unstable?)

        It effectively kills two birds with one stone, suggesting to me it’s too pat to be ‘with great confidence’ anything other than a western intelligence concoction, in this case perhaps ‘too clever for their own good’.

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      3. The Russiagate material is useful to show up the Republicans but it is no reason to escalate things still further with the Russians. The real problem are the Republicans.

        The Republicans generally, Ron Paul and the tea-party group, or more recently, the Trumpists? Irony Alert: The firmly religiously based, thus righteous warriors vs the diabolical followers of Dionysus over the ages and generations more generally?

        But yes, I somewhat agree the old long-established basic Cold War narratives may be much deeper engrained in the US and beyond than one would assume. How many years post the legendary Red Scare? Or after the Russian Putin shift?
        ….
        ******
        Otherwise, narratives and plausibility, a no doubt interesting larger field. If I was American, I might tend your ways.

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    2. “Unlike most here I read the article and I saw the screen shots of the documents and I am fairly convinced. They actually use the language and the font style of Russian federal documents”

      […]

      I’m glad that you decided to announce before us all, useperson dewittbourchier, that this article completely convinced you.

      They published 1 (ONE) small-ish excerpt in Russian, and you are totally on board. I’m afraid to ask where did you acquire all the necessary familiarity to make you an insta-expert on how the official documents coming from the Security Council of the Russian Federation should look like. Afraid. Totally afraid. Fear of this revelation is overpowering me. I’m shacking, I’m, like, totally, shacking in fear.

      […]

      I think you also have a very good explanation as to why “Приложение 5 – личностная характеристика Дональда Дж. Трампа” (referenced in the sole excerpt) is written the way it’s written. For one – “личностная” instead of “личная”. Or that ugly little fact, that in a proper official document, they wouldn’t write in lowercase. Instead, it’d look like “Приложение 5. «Личная характеристика Д. Д. Трампа»”.

      You, useperson dewittbourchier, also strike me as the one who totally seallowed the entire “комната грязи” fiasco, brought to us by the same people.

      Please, please – share with us more of your beautiful, well informed worldview!

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      1. Ah, yes… the ‘mudroom’ muck up. That was a classic.

        Even google translator returns ‘прихожая’ (pre-entrance) for mudroom (one word)

        But ‘грязевая комната’ for mud room (two words)

        Likely it was the Brits at work and mucked it up. Don’t they use another term for ‘mudroom’?

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      2. Podkova, Podkovica. Peregruzka, Perezagruzka, on and on and on.

        Western intelligence has a habit of undermining their claims of intelligence on a regular basis. But why bother a change when so many never notice?

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    3. Font style? Seriously? It looks like typewriter font from 60 years ago! On yellow paper! On phone-width page! It’s frankly impossible the excerpts are exact copies of originals – unless, of course, the “originals” in question were forgeries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Typewriter fonts on yellow paper? Most likely someone at the British Embassy picked up an old Soviet typewriter from a Moscow street vendor back in the 90’s and then assumed everyone in the West still thought Russia was too broke to afford computers and 92 whiteness paper.

        That would be UK intelligence at work. 😉

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    4. I know others have already commented on this, but still. Font style, LOL? It’s not like my 7-year old can change font styles on his iPad.

      Why would anyone waste even a microsecond on anything that known fabricator Harding writes? The elite Anglo world seems to have an obsession with Russia, bordering on anti-Slav racism. Again, glad the UK is out of the EU.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You specifically mentioned font style as supporting ‘evidence’, which evidently is no evidence at all. It takes a click to set any font style you want. Nuff said.

        If you can notice a characteristic style of writing and presentation, so can Western intelligence services, whose job is to lie, forge, and control the narrative 24/7.

        Russiagate is a nothingburger. The mere existence of Russian news channels and Russian government agencies analyzing Western politics are presented as meddling. Some gullible and entitled Westerners then swallow this hook, line, sinker.

        Narrative control is more difficult in the internet era than it was when Pravda was printed on paper. Anybody can, at least for now, visit RT or Sputniknews. Hence the transparent attempts at censorship disguised as combating ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’. The Western world is voluntarily turning into North Korea to create an information vacuum for its citizenry.

        However, reality will exist beyond the Western digital Great Wall. People can live in ignorance in their bubble, but it will not change the fact that China is operating rovers on the Moon and Mars, while Europe cannot even make enough face masks, let alone develop vaccines.

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      2. “Yes, the style of writing, its presentation, and the reasons stated which are logical if flawed suggest to me it is not a forgery.”

        Once again, userperson dewittbourchier. tell us – where did you become familiar with the way how Russian official documents (let alone – classified ones) look like? How’s your Russian, btw?

        “Highly Likely” ™ argumentation is a strong one. Like the “Ancient Aliens did it” one.

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      3. Glad the UK is out of the EU…why? So that MI6 and it’s plethora of cutouts can fabricate anti-Russian garbage to their hearts content coordinating only with US security organs and skipping the EU’s?

        Strange wishes often create noxious side dishes.

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    5. I could have faked such a document myself between breakfast and lunch. You’re either very untalented or very naive, possibly both.

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    6. One need not be a Trump supporter (God forbid) to understand that dewittbourchier comes from that majority subset of Democrats that will hang on every conspiratorial word and readily swallow anything on contact, as long as it’s anti-Trump (and by illogical extension, anti-Russian) and pro-Biden (or whoever). They often throw a bit of left field analysis in to make themselves feel better about being such outlandish rubes.

      Good job, dewittbourchier. You’re true to form.

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      1. Believe what you want but this is actual evidence as opposed to the Steele Dossier sensationalism. Just as the Deutsche bank loans were hard evidence as opposed to any supposed compromat.

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      2. Just as the Deutsche bank loans were hard evidence as opposed to any supposed compromat.

        Yes. interesting aspect, but to the extent matters reached me, handled by a well connected American employee at the NYC branch of the Deutsche Bank.

        I do have admittedly rather vague memories about the money streams out of Russia on many layers. … You feel the Deutsche Bank of all possible banks supported the money for the loans for shares scam?

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  5. Personally, I feel that that it’s Mrs Clinton who is ‘mentally unstable’.

    Y’know, watching her “we came, we saw, he died” episode, right after she (together with Susan Rice and Samantha Power) destroyed the most prosperous country in Africa, murdering, in the process, legendary anti-colonial hero, Colonel Kaddafi . Real psycho, she is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! The way Killery giggles about the brutal death of another human being. One senses the presence of enormous evil in such a soul. Sends shivers up one’s spine…

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    2. Mao Cheng Jl,
      after she (together with Susan Rice and Samantha Power) destroyed the most prosperous country in Africa,

      Curiously enough, later turned into a heavy Trump supporter in the mist of unfolding times, if he was willing to still admit, I seem to get censored on the issue, heavily supported Libya as the only place where some type of Arab Spring revolution would make sense. After all, a rich country with well-educated people. 😉

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  6. if he was willing to still admit

    Pat Lang, then on his old SST blog, TTG too from the other political side willing to join the fight to train the locals as SF force member.

    Pat also before was involved in US strafing actions in Libya before as US Arabist expert.

    Look, I am not a fan of Powers in office, neither of Rice. But it makes sense to take a step back and look at the context.

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  7. What *IS* without doubt though, is that the UK military is thoroughly rotten and leaking classified data like a sieve. Who needs dastardly Russians when you have things like this:

    Classified Challenger tank specs leaked online for videogame

    “A user identifying as a Challenger 2 commander posted specific excerpts from a Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication, sort of like a user manual) to show game developers that they “didn’t model it correctly”.

    The user identifies as a make in Tidworth with a history of “Tanks & AFV’s, CR2 Tank Commander, AFV Instr, D&M Instr, Gunnery Instr, Former ATDU”. It should be noted that Tidworth is home to the Royal Tank Regiment who operate Challenger 2 tanks.

    Anyway, it is understood that the excerpts from the document had their ‘UK RESTRICTED’ label crossed out and a stamp of ‘UNCLASSIFIED’ added, as well as having various parts fully blanked. One forum user remarked that “the cover for instance had basically everything except CHALLENGER 2 blacked out”.

    The forum user posted the following alongside the now removed AESP in an effort to have an issue with the in-game design of the vehicle rectified.:

    ‘Linking those screenshots with the following edited image from the AESP’s which is meant to show the relationship of the various components. The image isn’t exactly to scale as its only meant to show the position of components relative to each other but it works for the point I’m trying to make here. The trunnion’s sit centrally of the rotor. The trunnions support the rotor in the turret structure and the GCE sub components as previously stated are all mounted to the rotor.’

    War Thunder fan says tank is inaccurate, leaks classified military documents to prove it

    “Things got out of hand earlier this week, however, when one player demonstrated a little too much commitment to realism. The player, who claims to be a real-life Challenger 2 tank commander and former member of the British Army’s Armored Trials and Development Unit, complained that War Thunder’s in-game model is significantly off the mark in ways that leave it much more vulnerable to enemy fire than it is in the real world—and then to prove the point, they posted classified images from the Challenger 2 Army Equipment Support Publication, which is basically the tank’s user manual.

    According to the UK Defense Journal, the images were heavily redacted and carried “UK Restricted” labels, but those were crossed out and a stamp of “Unclassified” was added. Gaijin, understandably, reacted with extreme caution, saying that “proof of this document’s declassification will be required as well as where it was sourced from” before any action based upon it could be taken.

    Shortly after that, a senior technical moderator weighed in to say that the Gaijin had been in contact with the UK Ministry of Defense, which had informed it — in writing — that the manual is in fact classified.

    Like

  8. Gilbert Doctorow should be on everyone’s blog list.

    https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2021/07/19/mikhail-bulgakov-master-and-margarita-and-the-anti-russian-hysteria-in-the-united-states/

    ###

    The USA’s long descent in to madness continues (with its allies).

    Whether the rest of the planet is sucked down with it is the question.

    Ex-Aussie PM Kevin ‘I speak Mandarin’ Rudd is recently quoted as saying – more or less – that ‘maybe we should hit pause on the sinophobia.’

    As for ingrained and instituionalized russophobia (sic recent interviews with the head of MI5, British Army bla bla bla), it’s all a bit of a game.That only works if both sides think so. At some point there’s no salami left to slice and then ‘things’ happen very quickly… We cannot say that we have not been warned.

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  9. Here is Jimmy Dore’s take on this Luke Harding hoax, backed up by respected journalists such as Aaron Maté and Glenn Greenwald:

    The screenshots of the Russian text they show; they quote a Russian twitter user saying it doesn’t even read like real Russian, as a real Russian would write. Not talking about the fonts, just talking about the actual words used, the sentences, word order, syntax, etc.

    Just reading those first 2 paragraphs, I have to agree. I mean, it’s grammatically correct and all. But also knowing American English as well as I do, it really sounds to me like somebody wrote this text in stilted American English, then google-translated into Russian, then maybe had a Russian language teacher do a final pass and proofread the result for grammatical correctness. Just to make sure no absolutely glaring errors that people would jump on. But really doesn’t sound like it was written directly from Russian, that’s my impression.

    Like

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