How Trump Exploited the Material He Knew the Russians Had Stolen

Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the 300-plus page Mueller report raised more questions than it answered. But he took the time to make one point very clear (emphasis mine).

The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.

It is important to note that this hacking and release of emails was one of the ways the Russian government demonstrated that their efforts were designed to support Donald Trump’s candidacy by disparaging his opponent.

WikiLeaks began their release of the emails hacked from the DNC on July 22, 2016, just before the Democratic Convention. The release of John Podesta’s emails began on October 7, 2016. In the one month that followed, Trump championed the emails released by WikiLeaks 141 times on the campaign trail.

At that point, Trump had already received two intelligence briefings on the matter.

A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August…

On August 17, Trump got the first of the private briefings from U.S. intelligence officers to which he and Hillary Clinton are entitled as the major party presidential nominees.

As NBC News previously reported, classified materials prepared for the first briefing and examined by NBC News showed U.S. officials had drawn “direct links” between Vladimir Putin’s government and the recent hacks and e-mail leaks.

Trump received a second briefing in the weeks prior to the October 10th presidential debate, while his associates were provided with ongoing updates.

Trump not only knew that Russia was attempting to influence the election on his behalf, he also knew that they were responsible for hacking the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and then releasing them through WikiLeaks. As he said over and over again on the campaign trail, he “loved it” and did everything he could to promote the hacked material. In other words, the president welcomed Russian interference and tried to benefit from it.

On its own, this might not be the kind of thing that qualifies as evidence of a criminal conspiracy. But what we have all witnessed with our own eyes is the fact that the president welcomed Russian interference when he exploited material gained via the commission of a crime that was part of an attempt to support him in the 2016 election.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.