The Clintons, Putin, and Stolen Elections by Nathan Richmond

The Clintons, Putin, and Stolen Elections by Nathan Richmond

They say that ‘‘karma is a bitch’’.  I would add: “for the Clintons, twice over’’.

While many in the US (except Trump and his "alternate facts" purveyors and supporters) wonder about the extent of Russia's, i.e., Putin's, interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, let us take a moment to recall how Putin came to power with the indirect help of Bill Clinton's White House.

Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first and so far only freely elected president (1991) was running for reelection in 1996. The first round of voting was scheduled for mid-June and the second round, if necessary, would be two weeks later in early July.  With Russia in dire straits economically, in turmoil politically, suffering from Chechen rebel attacks, and impotent in foreign affairs, Yeltsin's approval rating was in the single digits by 1996. He suffered a heart attack between the two rounds of voting which significantly weakened him physically. It appeared all but certain that the Communist Party candidate, Genady Zyuganov, whose party swept the Duma legislative election in December 1995, would be elected Russia's next president. 

While Yeltsin's friends (the Russian oligarchs who feared a Communist return to power) did much to help him by financing his campaign, and he resorted to a number of "dirty tricks" to sabotage Zyuganov's campaign, Bill Clinton's White House played a role as well. By the 1990s, Yeltsin was a staunch anticommunist and the Clinton administration did not want to see the Communist Zyuganov replace Yeltsin.  

Clinton was determined to help Yeltsin, reasoning that it was in our best interests to do so because Yeltsin was democratizing Russia and a Zyuganov presidency might reignite the Cold War. While President Clinton did not have, apparently, any direct role, his White House adviser, Dick Morris did, acting as a liaison between the US government and a team of US election advisers sent to help, and Yeltsin was reelected. This is not to say that US help (interference) was the deciding factor, but we did interfere in their election.

Fast forward three and a half years later. Vladimir Putin enjoyed a meteoric career rise from his 1996 appointment as Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Administration to his July 1998 appointment as Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB, previously KGB), to his August 1999 appointment as Prime Minister.  He became Russia’s acting president when Yeltsin stunned the nation, indeed the world, with a tearful, apologetic, New Year’s Eve 1999 resignation, turning over the keys to the kingdom to the man he had recently appointed his prime minister, his 6th in the 3 1/2years since his 1996 reelection.   

Ever grateful, one of Putin's first acts in office was to grant immunity to Yeltsin. Thus the actions of Bill Clinton’s White House in helping Boris Yeltsin steal the 1996 Russian Presidential election indirectly contributed to the rise of Vladimir Putin, the man Hillary Clinton claims interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election helping Trump win. Karma is a bitch.

Following her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a personal grudge against her because she encouraged the 2011 Russian protests against him. Thus, she stated, the Russians interfered and cost her the election (or was it the unprecedented actions of FBI Director Comey?).

The consensus of the US intelligence community is that the Russians did interfere in the election, and did so to help Donald Trump. They did so by hacking into Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and the Democratic National Committtee (DNC) and released embarassing documents and emails. They generatednegative, fake news stories about the Clintons, and by casting doubts on integrity of election, suppressed votes. More voters helps the Democrats—fewer voters helps the Republicans.

But unlike the Democratic Party primaries when the Clinton campaign disenrolled voters, hacked voting machines, and worked with the DNC to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders, the consensus of US intelligence community is that the Russians did not meddle with US voter registrations or voting machines or vote tallies.

Hillary Clinton claims the general election was stolen from her. But the reality is, even if denied by many, is that her campaign, working closely with the DNC, stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders. Karma, thy name is bitch. Sometimes, twice over.

 

Nathan Richmond is Professor of Government at Utica College.

 

 

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