Vladimir Putin
Photograph by Konstantin Zavrazhin — Getty Images

Campaign manager hints at unspecified links.

By David Z. Morris
July 24, 2016

Robby Mook, Campaign Manager of Hillary For America, suggested this morning on CNN’s State of the Union that Friday’s leak of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails was masterminded by Russia and intended to benefit Donald Trump.

Mook’s claims were carefully worded, hinting at links and citing unnamed expert sources.

What’s disturbing to us is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and now other experts are saying the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump. I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here . . .

I think we need to be concerned that we also saw last week at the Republican convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian.

When you put all this together, it’s a disturbing picture, and I think voters need to reflect on that.

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When pressed by host Jake Tapper, Mook clarified that “this is not my assertion, there are a number of experts that are asserting this.” But those expert opinions seem largely confined to attributing last month’s DNC hack itself to Russian state actors.

While that hack seems like a likely source of the emails themselves, Mook’s suggestion that Wikileaks acted under Russian direction steps beyond any widely-accepted evidence. There has been substantial speculation about connections between Wikileaks and Russian state intelligence, particularly following the organization’s role in Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA documents and flight to asylum in Russia. But those claims largely rely on circumstantial evidence, including Julian Assange’s short-lived talk show on Russia’s state-controlled RT network.

Wikileaks itself today described the narrative as “a discredited conspiracy theory,” and denied coordinating the release for political impact.

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Mook was less explicit in linking Donald Trump and the Russian state, but others have already done some legwork for him on that front. In the New York Times, Paul Krugman on Friday outlined concrete connections between Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and allies of Vladimir Putin, as well as more sentimental affinities between the Russian dictator and conservative Republicans.

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