This morning, the head of Russia's space program announced that International Space Station cooperation has ended between Russia and the West has ended until sanctions are lifted. Rather than have Trump make the announcement, Dmitry Rogozin "said in a social media post that the aim of the sanctions was to 'kill Russian economy and plunge our people into despair and hunger, to get our country on its knees.' He added that they 'won’t succeed in it, but the intentions are clear... That’s why I believe that the restoration of normal relations between the partners at the International Space Station (ISS) and other projects is possible only with full and unconditional removal of illegal sanctions.'"
Also in the news from Trump's allies in Moscow: as Russians retreat from the Kyiv area they are leaving mines behind to kill people. AP reported that the Trump allies are "leaving mines around homes, abandoned equipment and even the bodies of those killed."
This morning, in his newsletter, David Corn wrote about how Trump and Putin are helping each other, even beyond how "Trump and his cult have been a prime conduit of Russian disinformation for years. In the past few days, we witnessed a sharp example of Trump-Kremlin propaganda convergence, with each side reinforcing the BS of the other." Ready it? Hunter Biden, Hunter Biden, Hunter Biden.
It started on March 24, when the Russian defense ministry issued a diagram that purportedly showed Hunter Biden has secretly financed Pentagon biolabs in Ukraine. Here’s how the Daily Beast described the disinformation: “Titled ‘Coordination of Biological Laboratories and Scientific Research Centers of Ukraine and the U.S.,’ the diagram also features an image of a smiling George Soros, as well as a tab representing the Democratic Party, and depicts them all as the masterminds behind what Russian officials claim are American attempts to work on an ‘especially dangerous pathogen of anthrax.’” A few weeks ago, I obtained Kremlin documents that conveyed talking points to Putin-friendly media. One major theme: accuse the United States of engaging in “biogenocide” against Russia and claim it is developing pathogens in Ukrainian labs that can be carried into Russia by birds and bats. With this chart, Vladimir Putin’s imaginative propagandists had expanded the allegation to include Hunter Biden and George Soros.
“The scale of the program is impressive,” lied Igor Kirillov, a Russian official. “In addition to the military department, the US Agency for International Development, the George Soros Foundation, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are directly involved in its implementation. Scientific curation is carried out by leading research organizations, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which develops nuclear weapons under the Manhattan Project.” Soros? Hunter Biden? It was as if the Kremlin’s propaganda shop had thought, How can we get Fox News to cover this?
Part II transpired six days later. During an interview with pro-Trump discredited journalist John Solomon, Trump asked Putin to do him a favor and produce political dirt on the Bidens. He said:
As long as Putin is now not exactly a fan of our country... Why did the mayor of Moscow’s wife give the Bidens-- both of them-- three and a half million dollars... So now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it... Now you won't get the answer from Ukraine... I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer. I’m sure he knows.
The response from pundits and politicians (including a few Republicans, such as Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham) was swift: Trump was condemned for endeavoring to take advantage of Putin’s illegal and barbarous war to obtain derogatory information on his political enemies. He was suggesting that Putin should do this because Biden was now opposing Putin’s murderous invasion. That is, Trump was telling Putin, Hey, you don’t like Biden, so release bad stuff about him. He was encouraging an evil autocrat to undermine a US president who was leading the world against that tyrant’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. This was traitorous treachery.
Trump’s disinformation came from a report produced by Senate Republicans before the 2020 election that claimed that on February 14, 2014, Elena Baturina, the widow of a man who had been mayor of Moscow until 2010, “wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton bank account for a ‘Consultancy Agreement.’ Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden." In an email to PolitiFact, Hunter Biden’s lawyer said, “Hunter Biden had no interest in and was not a co-founder of Rosemont Seneca Thornton, so the claim that he was paid $3.5 million is false.” PolitiFact reported, “We asked Republican Senate staffers if they could show proof that Biden had a stake in Rosemont Seneca Thornton, and they also declined to respond...[T]he Republican report doesn’t fully support [the] claim, because it never shows that Biden got the full $3.5 million.” PolitiFact concluded the allegation “that Hunter Biden received money through this transaction is unproven.” Factchecks of this accusation from USA Today and CNN reached the same conclusion.
As he did with his blackmail-ish phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2019 that led to his first impeachment, Trump was urging a foreign government to bolster a bizarre and unsubstantiated conspiracy theory for his own, political benefit. And now he was exploiting a war to do the same thing.
There was another deplorable element to this move. By amplifying an unfounded accusation about Hunter Biden and alleging he had been involved in sleazy doings in Russia, Trump was reinforcing Moscow’s own war propaganda. Surely, the Kremlin’s purveyors of disinformation who are pushing the Hunter-Biden-Soros-Democratic Party bioweapons lab junk were delighted to see a former president of the United States affirming that Joe Biden’s son was involved in shady stuff in Russia. With his request to Putin, Trump was aiding and abetting a Russian disinformation operation, just as in 2016 when he fervently echoed Moscow’s false claims that it had not mounted a covert hack-and-dump operation to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump.
By the way, you get extra points if you noticed in the Solomon interview Trump’s dig at Ukraine: Now you won't get the answer from Ukraine. This was a reference to the various conspiracy theories Trump and his cronies have spread that involve Ukraine, such as the debunked allegation that Joe Biden orchestrated the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son. One of the Ukraine-starring conspiracy theories that Trump has embraced is that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election and did so to assist Clinton. This batcrap story claimed the hacked Democratic Party servers had been whisked away to Ukraine and were being hidden in Zelenskyy’s country as part of a cover-up. Trump believed this nonsense, and his recent comment suggests he still harbors a grudge against Ukraine for supposedly conspiring against him. That could explain why he has not forcefully condemned Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, which he initially described as “genius.”
Trump’s plea to Putin for oppo research on Hunter Biden was not just his usual crass, me-first betrayal. With this ask, Trump was casting Putin as a legitimate leader who could help the American public by sharing crucial information. He was not treating Putin as an evil tyrant responsible for killing and maiming tens of thousands and destroying entire cities. That sends a signal to his followers and perhaps to Russians.
The former guy’s remarks were a tremendous propaganda gain for the Kremlin’s war criminals. On the day they emerged, pro-Putin Russian television host Evgeny Popov called on Americans to change “the regime in the U.S.” and “to again help our partner Trump to become president.” Our partner. Putin’s liars and killers know what the Republican Party and Trump’s millions of followers won’t acknowledge: He is for Putin a damn useful idiot.
Is Trump a traitor? Ted Lieu says that what he has done is in asking Putin, again, for dirt on his political opponent, at the very least, "is unAmerican and immoral"... and I also believe it is illegal." Here's Lieu's criminal referral letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking that the Department of Justice "launch a formal investigation... It is illegal for American political candidates to solicit a thing of value from foreign powers. On March 29, 2022, in a televised interview with Just the News, former President Trump publicly pushed an unsubstantiated claim about Hunter Biden's business dealings in Russia and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release any information that he might have about the situation. Former President Trump stated:
Why did the mayor of Moscow's wife give the Bidens-- both of them--three and a half million dollars? That's a lot of money. She gave him three and a half million dollars. So now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it. I think we should know that answer.
The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 expressly prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating, or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment. Former President Trump, who has held himself out as a 2024 presidential candidate, potentially violated the Act and FEC regulations. He was soliciting a foreign power for dirt on a political opponent's son, which would be valuable to the former President's goal of getting re-elected."