U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Opinion: ‘Ask, and you shall receive’

Note the date of the video below: July 27, 2016, in the heart of the presidential campaign. It’s important, and we’ll come back to it in a moment.

In federal indictments announced Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team charged a dozen high-level Russian intelligence officers with launching an effort “to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Put another way, they conspired to throw the election to Donald Trump, focusing almost exclusively on Democratic campaigns and targets and timing release of material for maximum political effect. Intelligence experts say that such a massive and politically sensitive effort could only have been launched with approval of Vladimir Putin himself.

According to the indictment, something else important happened on July 27, 2016, the date of Trump’s request above. On pages 7-8, it tells us that:

“.. on or about July 27, 2016, the conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third- party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted 76 email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.”

In short, on July 27, Trump publicly asked Russia to target Clinton’s personal emails. (He claimed later to have been joking, but in the comments seemed deadly serious, even when challenged by reporters.) Within hours of that request, according to the indictments, Russian intelligence agents began concerted efforts to get exactly the information that Trump had requested. That’s damn good service.

It’s also important to remember that by July of 2016, Russian government hacking of Democratic targets and the leaking of data from that hacking had already become a major issue. Here’s how Trump responded to that controversy just two days before his hacking request:

Quite the joke.

For months, Trump had also tried to argue that Russia had nothing to do with the hacking of his Democratic opposition, arguing that it was more likely the work of some 400-pound hacker sitting in his bedroom. Even now, after unanimous statements from the U.S. intelligence community fingering Russia as the culprit, he resists the conclusion of Russian involvement on his behalf.

Well, in Helsinki on Monday, Trump finally gets to meet face to face with that mysterious “400-pound hacker.” As suspected, his name will be Vladimir Putin.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.