This past July, when we first discussed the possibility that Vladimir Putin might be using Russia’s vast security apparatus to get Trump elected, I think it’s safe to say that a good number of you saw it as yet another baseless conspiracy theory. And, in October, when Senator Harry Reid announced that U.S. security agencies had “explosive information” about the role of Russia in the Trump campaign, I think a great many saw it as nothing more than pre-election posturing – an attempt to shift focus away from the fact that F.B.I. Director Comey had announced the day before that he’d be reopening the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s private email server. But, the story didn’t just go away after the election. At the end of November, seven Democrats serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee formally requested that President Obama declassify all of materials related to Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election. And, two days ago, the White House announced that President Obama had ordered a “full review” of the matter, to be concluded before the end of his term in office. Then, later that same evening, we got the payoff some of us had been expecting all this time. News broke that the CIA had concluded some time ago that Putin’s government had “intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”
And, today, U.S. Senators John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Lindsey Graham, Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader-elect, and Jack Reed, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, released a joint statement saying that these “recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” and promising a bipartisan response. While I’m not a fan of either Graham or McCain, I very much appreciate the fact that they came out today promising a bipartisan investigation, knowing that, by doing so, they would, in the words of the Washington Post, “risk antagonizing the president-elect, who has said flatly that he doesn’t believe Russia interfered with the election.” That move on the part of Graham and McCain took courage, and one hopes that others in their party might follow suit, as this really is more important than which party is in power.
For what it’s worth, not only has our President-elect said that he does not believe that Russia played a role in the election, but he’s also said that his team had absolutely no interaction with the Russians during the campaign. This last claim, however, was refuted shortly after the election by Russia’s own Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said in an interview with the state-run Interfax news agency, that “there were contacts” between the Russian government and the Trump team.
In spite of this most recent revelation about the CIA’s belief that Trump benefited from Russian intervention, the reality television celebrity turned President-elect went ahead yesterday and named Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a close collaborator with the Russians, to be his Secretary of State… Here, from CNN, is a clip about Tillerson’s deep economic ties to Russia.
…In 2013, Vladimir Putin awarded ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreign citizens…
The 64-year-old Tillerson, a lifetime Exxon employee, came up through the ranks by managing the company’s Russia account…
In fact, his close relationship with Russia is one of the major reasons Tillerson was selected to succeed Lee Raymond as CEO of Exxon (XOM) in 2006, according to Steve Coll’s book “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.”
Once he became CEO, Exxon bet billions on Russia’s vast but notoriously-elusive oil resources through a bold partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft. Putin himself attended the 2011 signing ceremony for the deal with Rosneft, which is majority owned by Moscow.
Russia has already indicated it would welcome Tillerson being named America’s top diplomat.
“Trump continues to amaze,” Alexey Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russian parliament, said on Twitter. He said that selecting Tillerson would be a “sensation” and noted he has “a lot of experience working with Russia”…
Here are Tillerson and Putin together, sharing a laugh… no doubt about their plans for the future.
Oh, it’s also worth noting that the CIA, according to a senior U.S. administration official, believes the Russians not only hacked the emails of the the DNC, which they made public through Wikileaks, but also the emails of the RNC. And, according to some in the intelligence community, the Russians could now be using these emails to blackmail the Trump administration… Here, with that in mind, is a quote from today’s Daily Beast: “Former and current U.S. national security officials and experts say that if it is true that the Russian government possesses documents belonging to the Republican National Committee, Donald Trump’s incoming administration may be the most compromised in U.S. history.“
Oh, and here are two more quick, related factoids from today’s news.
So, have you got all that? Trump said that his campaign hadn’t talked with the Russians, who hacked the DNC and spread both real and false news for the purpose of aiding his campaign. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said after the election, however, that his government had been in communication with the Trump team. Then, yesterday, the CIA finally came out and said that, yes, overwhelming evidence exists that Russian operatives worked behind the scenes to see Trump elected President. Trump then promptly announced that he would be naming Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, who Putin awarded the Russian Order of Friendship, to be his Secretary of State. And all of this is happening as Russia is moving missiles into Eastern Europe, and Trump is refusing to take security briefings, saying that he’s getting information from sources other than our national security experts… Is that clear?
What could all of this mean? Well, I’ve just started digging into it, but it looks like Tillerson and the Russians had agreed to what could have been a $500 billion dollar oil exploration venture in the Arctic, which collapsed due to Obama administration sanctions in 2014. So, might it just be possible that we’ve finally got a narrative that makes sense? Could it be that, beneath everything, this is all about stopping the move toward renewable energy and executing the biggest oil deal the world has ever seen? Could it be that’s why Putin wanted Trump in office, and why Trump has been so aggressively hostile to the science of global climate change and the Paris Accord? Is this all about lifting Russian sanctions and setting things up for the biggest cash grab the world has ever seen, even if it means the end of humanity?
Regardless of why the Russians chose to become involved, and helped Trump ascend to power, what are we going to do about it? And, perhaps more importantly, what are our Electors going to do about it come December 19?