At this point, the United States government and pretty much everyone else on the planet is firmly convinced that Russian operatives, acting under orders from the Kremlin, did their level best to tip the 2016 United States presidential election in the direction of a mediocre real estate magnate from New York. From the CIA to the Justice Department, everyone in the government is straightforward about the Russian campaign to fuel divisions in the American populace with a slew of misinformation and propaganda.
No one is holding back when it comes to naming a primary culprit for the plan, either. All fingers point at Russian president and totally-not-an-autocrat, Vladimir Putin. Even as the political outrage stacks against him, Putin remains cheekily befuddled about the accusations. When prompted on the scandal, Putin tends to use whatever excuse pops into his head. His continuing denial is spectacular political theater, but Putin’s performance as an innocent person is hardly passable.
On February 16, 2018, United States special counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment against thirteen Russian nationals and three organizations for their part in disrupting the 2016 presidential election. According to the indictment, the “defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences,” and subsequently fuel the furor over hot-button topics in an attempt to get Donald Trump elected.
These Russian agents were responsible for super nuanced ads like this one:
And of course, who can forget the anti-fracking protestor who went on a shooting rampage in Boston because his liberalism drove him insane:
According to Mueller and his homies, Russian agents bought space on US servers, adopted US-sounding names and online personas and then proceeded to flood Twitter and Facebook with thousands of posts like the ones above in an attempt to get stupid people all hot and bothered. Both sides of the aisle were targeted (because dummies believe all different kinds of things), and the strategy came from the highest echelon of the Russian government.
It might not have been Putin’s idea, but he definitely signed off on it. Probably while dressed like the world’s saddest G.I. Joe:
Anyone who doubts that Putin had a say in such an operation hasn’t been paying attention to Russia in the last two decades.
Putin has systematically stripped the Russian people of their individual freedoms while securing power by twisting legislation and raiding the headquarters of political opponents. There’s also a strange pattern in which Putin’s political opponents find themselves dead (somehow).
That kind of power has made Putin a little bit cocksure when it comes to facing allegations on an international stage. Put simply, he cares so little about proving his “innocence” in the Russian election meddling debacle that he’s willing to toss up any excuse possible just to pivot away from the topic. It’s like a sport for him.
Speaking to NBC News’ Megyn Kelley over the weekend, Putin continued to stick to the lie. Actually, he continued to stick to a lot of lies.
In response to Kelly’s questioning on the Russian election meddling issue, Putin first denied that he and the Kremlin had any involvement in the meddling. Then, he claimed ignorance of the whole ongoing mess because he’s focused on protecting the Russian environment from special interests. He’s got the Duma to worry about, people, he doesn’t have time to think about, what did you call it again, Corngress?
It’s worth pointing out that CIA director Mike Pompeo called the notion that the Kremlin was not involved in election meddling, “false.” Not potentially false, not misleading. False.
Anyway, when Putin got done denying that he was involved, the not-a-dictator switched tactics mid-stream, doubling down on statements he made days earlier in which he announced that no Russians would get expedited to the United States. Putin said he wasn’t going to do anything if the people in question, “do not violate Russian laws,” and anyone in Congress who suggested otherwise was just being ignorant:
“[With] all due respect for Congress, you must have people with legal degrees. One-hundred percent you do, and people who are well-educated, who must understand that we, Russia, cannot prosecute anyone if they have not violated Russian law. If you do not have a legal degree, I can explain to you.”
It’s a pretty smug response for a man who is accused of undermining the democratic process.
Discovering in himself a touch of Robert Ludlum, Putin also speculated that the guilty parties probably weren’t even Russian anyway. Some nefarious force, maybe the Democratic Party, must have paid agents to attain dual citizenship, move to Russia, create fake online personas designed to imitate Russian citizens imitating US citizens (complete with the limited grasp of English), and then flood the United States with outright lies like this designed to inflate support for their opponent:
And if it wasn’t the dastardly liberals behind everything, it was probably a foreign power like the “Ukrainians, Tatars, or Jews.”
Before the whole thing was over, Putin miraculously found time to excoriate the United States for ignoring Russian attempts to work together on cybersecurity, “instead [throwing] 13 Russians to the media.”
So, to recap, Putin isn’t sure what’s up with the election meddling. All he can say is that the Kremlin was not involved. Oh, and it was probably somebody from Ukraine. Oh, and even if the meddlers were Russian, he wouldn’t give them up. And why are we talking about this whole thing, anyway, while the US government is hurting thirteen poor Russian citizens? You know, thirteen Russians who probably aren’t even Russian, to begin with.