Staying on the subject of Trump:
Russia’s foreign minister has dismissed as “blather” the charges levelled by the FBI special counsel against 13 Russians for election meddling.
Sergei Lavrov said at a major security conference in Germany he would not comment further until he saw “facts”.
According to the indictment:
The 37-page indictment says a group of Russians:
Posed as Americans, and opened financial accounts in their name; some visited the US
Spent thousands of dollars a month buying political advertising
Purchased US server space in an effort to hide their Russian affiliation
Organised and promoted political rallies within the United States
Posted political messages on social media accounts that impersonated real US citizens
Promoted information that disparaged Hillary Clinton
Received money from clients to post on US social media sites
Created themed groups on social media on hot-button issues, particularly on Facebook and Instagram
Operated with a monthly budget of as much as $1.25m (£890,000)
Financed the building of a cage large enough to hold an actress portraying Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform
The indictment says those involved systematically monitored the success of their internet posts.
All of the 13 people named were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three have also been accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five have been accused of aggravated identity theft. Three companies have also been charged.
This is pretty weak sauce, and if the American election can be unduly influenced by this then the nation is in trouble indeed. And as Tim Worstall points out, the Americans intervened to a far greater extent in the Russian general election in the early 1990s, supporting reforms which went a long way to creating the discontent which Putin capitalised on to maintain his grip on power.
What this is, and always has been, is an attempt to save Hillary Clinton’s face. She lost the election fair and square because she was an appalling candidate, and rather than accept it, her supporters are prepared to wreck already fraught relations with a serious geopolitical rival to spin this ludicrous narrative. The damage this woman has done to the USA is incredible, and still it continues, yet everyone blames Trump. There are people out there, some of whom laughably call themselves conservatives, who believe this latest indictment is proof that Russia is at war with the United States. Yes, there are supposedly serious politicians and commentators calling for war with Russia because they don’t want to face up to the fact that Hillary was a lousy candidate.
Whereas I suppose Putin has found much of this genuinely amusing up to now, this indictment changes things. The individuals named are in Russia and so unlikely to be arrested, but the intent is there. Putin has often accused foreigners working for NGOs in Russia of interfering in politics, shutting down various organisations in the process. He was rightly criticised for this, but it’s hard to see why Russians should tolerate Americans doing political work in Russia if Americans believe disparaging Hillary Clinton on Facebook is an offence worthy of FBI indictment. If Putin chooses to do so he could start making life very difficult for Americans in Russia now, and the American government wouldn’t have a damned leg to stand on. Those who may find themselves languishing in an icy cell on dubious charges of political subversion can thank Hillary Clinton, her insatiable ego, and her thoroughly corrupt supporters for their predicament.