Is it a Coincidence That Moscow Is Peddling the Same Lies as the Trump Campaign?

Since they did the same thing to Clinton in 2016, probably not.

No journalist has done a better job of fact-checking Donald Trump during his presidency than Daniel Dale. But now the CNN reporter, formerly of the Toronto Star, has done an invaluable service by outlining the nine conspiracy theories the president is continuously peddling. As Dale suggests, “Trump has been a conspiracy theorist for years.” but never before has he pushed so many at one time.

Two of them align completely with disinformation campaigns coming out of Moscow. For example, we learned that the Russian government began promoting the lies about mail-in ballots as early as last March.

Russia has sought to “amplify” concerns over the integrity of U.S. elections by promoting allegations that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News, again echoing a frequent and unfounded complaint raised by President Donald Trump.

Analysts with the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch issued the warning on Thursday to federal and state law enforcement partners after finding with “high confidence” that “Russian malign influence actors” have targeted the absentee voting process “by spreading disinformation” since at least March.

The timing raises the question of where the conspiracy theory originated—in the Kremlin or the White House.

Similarly, we now know that the Department of Homeland Security hid a report about how Moscow was promoting the idea that Biden is mentally unfit. Their excuse for not sharing that information is that the intelligence report was “poorly written and thinly sourced.” But according to the document that was finally released, their data was incredibly solid.

The report cites posts by Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik about Biden’s mental health between September 2019 and May 2020. In March, a Russian proxy website “refuted media claims that the candidate’s gaffes are the result of a stutter, instead arguing these verbal miscues are symptoms of dementia,” the bulletin said.

Once again, if this disinformation campaign began in September 2019, the attacks on Biden’s mental health seem to have started in Moscow and migrated to the Trump campaign.

This is all reminiscent of the coordinated attack on Hillary Clinton’s physical and mental health in 2016. What we now know is that conservative author Jerome Corsi was in contact with Julian Assange on the release of hacked emails by Wikileaks. He communicated with Roger Stone, who then coordinated with the Trump campaign. Here is what Corsi wrote to Stone on August 2, 2016:

Word is friend in embassy [Assange] plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging…Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke—neither he nor she well.

When it comes to the lies about mail-in voting and Biden, it is clear that both Putin and Trump are drawing on the same playbook. Perhaps that’s just a coincidence. But given this history, that is unlikely.

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Nancy LeTourneau

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