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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: July 27, 2016

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Donald Trump Calls On Russia To Conduct Cyber Attacks, Suggests Sanctions Over Crimea Annexation Could Be Lifted

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, just dropped two political bombshells today. In a press conference earlier today Trump said that he "hopes" Russia will be "able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing" from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email servers. This sounded a lot like a request for a foreign power to hack a computer system belonging to a senior American government official. The New York Times said that Trump was "essentially sanctioning a foreign power’s cyberspying of a secretary of state’s correspondence" and that this was "an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election."

The video can be watched here:  


When NBC reporter Trump Katy Tur pressed Trump on the comment and asked if "he had any qualms" about asking Russia to conduct a cyber attack against a former American official, Trump first told Tur that he was not telling Russia what to do and such a request would be "up to the president" and then just told her to "be quiet." Trump then said that if Russia had the emails "he'd love to see them."
Trump tried to address the resulting controversy in a Tweet by saying that he'd like those emails to be given to the FBI: 
Hillary Clinton's campaign fired back almost immediately.

Robert Caruso, former Department of Defense aide in the office of the Secretary of Defense, expressed grave concern about the nature of these comments. He told The Interpreter that "Donald Trump seems to have given a full-throated embrace of Russian aggression. Inciting another foreign power to commit espionage seems to be the the exact opposite of American values."

Meanwhile, former CIA Director Leon Panetta told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Trump's behavior suggests possible "conspiracy" with a foreign power: 

Trump's comments come at a time where the Russian government has been directly linked to a cyber attack against the Democratic National Committee. Yesterday The Interpreter published a review of the evidence surrounding the attack and found that the Kremlin had the means, motive, and opportunity to hack the DNC. All signs suggest two different Russian spy agencies were responsible for the cyber attacks, and a review of Mr. Trump's policies suggest that his election would benefit the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Furthermore, some hacking activity seems to have targeted a DNC worker who was investigating ties between Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was once a consultant for ousted Ukrainian president and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych, and the Russian government.  

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The Kremlin Is Working Hard To Make Donald Trump President

The evidence clearly implicates the Russian government in the hacking of the DNC, a clear attempt to influence November's election. And it's not the only one.

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Jul 27, 2016 21:13 (GMT)
Since then even more evidence has been unveiled linking the hacker to the Russian government:
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'DNC Hacker' Unmasked: He Really Works for Russia, Researchers Say

The hacker who claims to have stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and provided them to WikiLeaks is actually an agent of the Russian government and part of an orchestrated attempt to influence U.S. media coverage surrounding the presidential election, a security research group concluded on Tuesday.

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Jul 27, 2016 21:26 (GMT)
Furthermore, an additional investigation of Russian state-funded propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik News shows that their coverage of the American election has a clear anti-Clinton bias which could benefit Trump: 
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Russia's Election Coverage: Muted At Home, Biased Abroad

When Russian hackers were reported to have broken into the computers of the Democratic National Committee on June 14, the Russian media - state, pro-Kremlin and independent - covered the event, but briefly, and using only Western media reports

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Jul 27, 2016 21:31 (GMT)
Since then, Trump has dropped his second geopolitical bombshell today -- he is considering recognizing Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and is looking to drop economic sanctions against Russia: 
The Atlantic's senior editor was as stunned by these announcements as we were: 

There is now no doubt -- the possibility that sanctions against Russia could be lifted is a complete reversal of US foreign policy, to say nothing of the Republican platform. But it's also the clearest sign yet that Trump, the real-estate mogul who has done a lot of business with Russia, would pursue policies that are very favorable to the Russian President, and very unfavorable toward key US allies in Eastern Europe who have pushed for a tougher line against Russian aggression, not an invitation to conduct more violations of foreign sovereignty. 

One question remains -- are Trump's actions a crime? According to Hamdi Rifai, a retired civil rights trial attorney, Trump could be in violation of the Espionage Act if Wikileaks now releases Hillary Clinton's missing emails. Rifai told The Interpreter that Trump "could conceivably be held accountable as an accessory to the crime after the fact if it can be argued that Wikileaks released this information because of a request from Trump."

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