You can find excellent reporting elsewhere on the Democratic Party’s email leak and the ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin. Read this from Vice, for example, which argues that all the signs point to Russia being behind the leak. Or read this from Talking Points Memo on the connections between Trump’s operation and Vladimir Putin.
It’s tempting to put two and two together and imagine that the Russian government hacked into the Democrats’ emails and shared them with Wikileaks to embarrass Hillary Clinton at the very moment her party is convened in Philadelphia this week to nominate her for the presidency.
From what I’ve read, we’re not there yet. But when it looks like a duck and swims like a duck… Well.
You shouldn’t read other people’s mail
I debated writing this story at all for the reason Joshua Foust mentions: I think publishing people’s private communications so indiscriminately as Wikileaks did is wrong. If there’s no news value, like showing a conspiracy or a coverup, you shouldn’t do it. And even then you’re operating on the edge of what’s journalistically acceptable. It’s still — let’s call a spade a spade — stolen information.
That alone makes Wikileaks a disreputable organization in my book.
From what has been reported in the mainstream press, it seems some emails showed something of a “conspiracy” against Bernie Sanders in the sense that the Democratic National Committee was supposed to stay neutral in the presidential contest and didn’t.
Shocking, I know.
But that doesn’t justify releasing tens of thousands of emails sent and received on a daily basis by DNC staff.
The reason I’m writing about the story nonetheless is that I feel something more fundamental risks getting lost in the discussion about whether or nor Russia was behind the leak: the fact that Putin would obviously prefer to have Trump in the White House.
This is, after all, the man who has said he might not rush to the defense of a NATO ally if it is attacked by Russia.
Who says NATO is altogether outdated.
Who suggests money could be saved by pulling American troops out of Europe.
Who has said he would “get along” with the Russians just fine.
Who has excused Putin’s persecution and suspected murder of independent journalists by saying, “At least he’s a leader.”
Who is so gullible he will believe anything his supporters tweet but at the same time refuses to heed the advice of foreign-policy experts.
If you are Vladimir Putin and seeking to roll back American influence in Europe and divide the West against itself, of course you would rather deal with Trump than Clinton.
And that is the most important thing American voters need to know about this story: that the country Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ last presidential candidate, once described as their number one geopolitical foe desperately wants Trump to win the election.
The question now is, are they going to do Putin’s work for him?