National Security & Foreign Policy

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  • Wash. Post Fact Check: Trump’s Claim That He Has “Nothing To Do With Russia” Earns “Four Pinocchios”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that he has “nothing to do with Russia” the paper’s most severe falsehood rating: “four pinocchios.”

    Media figures questioned Trump’s relationship with Russia after he stood by “frightening” statements that he would defend NATO allies only if they “fulfill their obligations to us” and repeatedly expressed his admiration “for all things Putin-esque.” During a July 27 news conference, Trump denied that he had any financial ties to Russian government officials or investors.

    In a July 27 fact check, Kessler wrote that Trump has previously expressed “continuing interest in doing deals” with Russia but was “finding it difficult.” Kessler wrote that although “it may be possible that he has no current investments in Russia,” it is “not for lack of trying.” Kessler called Trump’s remarks “artfully deceiving” and rated Trump’s claim “four pinocchios.” Kessler wrote:

    In a news conference responding to evidence suggesting Russian agencies hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee, the GOP presidential nominee insisted that he had no business dealings in Russia — with one single exception.

    As he put it: “What do I have to do with Russia? … I bought [a Palm Beach, FL,] house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian. … I guess probably I sell condos to Russians, okay?” 

    [...]

    But there is other evidence that shows a continuing interest in doing deals not only with Russian real estate buyers, but deals in Russia. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” [Donald] Trump said in a 2007 deposition. “We will be in Moscow at some point,” he said.

    There is some evidence that Trump’s interest in doing business in Russia is unrequited. In 1987, he went to Moscow to find a site for [a] luxury hotel; no deal emerged. In 1996, he sought to build a condominium complex in Russia; that also did not succeed. In 2005, Trump signed a one-year deal with a New York development company to explore a Trump Tower in Moscow, but the effort fizzled.

    In a 2008 speech, Trump’s son, Donald Jr., made it clear that the Trumps want to do business in Russia, but were finding it difficult.

    [...]

    Trump’s remarks are artfully deceiving. He says he had nothing to do with Russia, pointing only to a Florida real estate sale. It may be possible that he has no current investments in Russia, but not for lack of trying.

  • Right-Wing Media Claim Trump Was “Joking” About Russian Espionage, But National Security Experts Aren’t Laughing

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    After Donald Trump encouraged Russian intelligence services or hackers “to find” and release State Department emails that could prove damaging to Hillary Clinton, right-wing media covered for Trump, suggesting that Trump’s comments were simply “tongue-in-cheek” or that he was “joking” about inciting a cyber attack by a foreign government on an American presidential candidate. National security experts condemned Trump’s comments, saying Trump has asked “an adversary of the United States [to] perform espionage on the United States,” calling it “a national security crisis.”

  • Trump Campaign Adopts Right-Wing Media’s Clinton Server Canard To Deflect From Trump’s Alleged Russian Ties

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Right-wing media pushed the idea that the supposed Russian hack and release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails also means that Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s server and stole information. Eventually, Paul Manafort, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign chair, repeated the claim to deflect attention from Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. 

  • Wash. Post’s Dana Milbank: Trump Loves Conspiracies Until They Involve Him

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has finally found a conspiracy he doesn’t like -- one that involves himself.

    Milbank’s column noted reports that security experts say Russian hackers are behind the publication of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails on the night before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The timing and sourcing of the email dump led media to question whether Russian officials were attempting to influence United States elections and whether Trump had any connections to Russian officials that may have played a role in the hack.

    Trump has a well-documented history of invoking and encouraging conspiracy theories, claiming a “fix” was in when the FBI decided not to indict Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, suggesting President Barack Obama was sympathetic to terrorists and not an American citizen, and claiming the suicide of a Clinton aide was “very fishy.” Trump has also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who believes the government coordinated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that a New World Order plans to exterminate 80 percent of the world.

    In the July 26 article, Milbank wrote that despite engaging in theories that “President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination,” Trump is "conspicuously incurious" about suggestions that he is working with Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election. If Clinton were in Trump’s position, Milbank wrote, “it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin.” From the Milbank column:

    Donald Trump never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — until now.

    He has dabbled in, among other things, the notion that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.

    But on one topic, Trump is conspicuously incurious: the suggestion that he is complicit in a plan by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S. election. Consider how Trump might react to the following fact pattern if the candidate involved weren’t “Donald Trump” but — let’s pick a name at random here — “Hillary Clinton”:

    The candidate’s real estate empire, unable to borrow from most U.S. banks, gets capital from Russian sources. Such transfers couldn’t occur without Putin’s blessing.

    [...]

    If the Clinton campaign, and not the Trump campaign, were so extensively interwoven with Putin’s Russia, it’s a safe bet that Trump would be demanding that Clinton release her tax returns to prove that she’s not beholden to Putin — just as he demanded Obama release his birth certificate.

    He would also very likely float allegations masquerading as questions by using the phrases “a lot of people have said” or “I’m hearing,” or “there’s something we don’t know about.” But Trump, I’m hearing, won’t be doing that in this case.