So the Russians wanted Bernie Sanders elected president in 2016 all along...

A couple days ago, former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy had a stunning piece on the arrest of Julian Assange and what that could really mean for understanding what was going on with the Russians during the 2016 elections that Democrats made such a stink about.

In a piece for Fox News, he wrote:

Prior to the publication of the stolen Democratic-party emails and internal documents, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks exhorted Russian government hackers to send them “new material.”

That is what we are told by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Russian intelligence officers. (I won’t offend anyone by calling them “spies” — after all, they were just doing electronic surveillance authorized by their government, right?) Assange wanted the Russians to rest assured that giving “new material” to WikiLeaks (identified as “Organization 1” in the indictment) would “have a much higher impact than what you are doing” — i.e., hacking and then putting the information out through other channels.

But time was of the essence. It was early 2016. If Hillary Clinton was not stopped right there and then, WikiLeaks warned, proceedings at the imminent Democratic national convention would “solidify bernie supporters behind her.” Of course, “bernie” is Bernie Sanders, the competitor who could still get the nomination. But if Assange and the Russians couldn’t raise Bernie’s prospects, WikiLeaks explained, Mrs. Clinton would be a White House shoo-in: “We think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”

McCarthy goes into a deep legal dive and asks why Assange isn't also being charged as a Russian agent, making lots of sense.

But I am most intrigued by the shift in the narrative that this represents. Assange up until now has always been a subject of focus for his solicitation of theft for U.S. military secrets - from the likes of then-known Bradley Manning and the like. Crimes related to that are what he's up on charges for and what the press is reporting.

But actually, he was soliciting Russian mischief back when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were duking it out on the primary stage .. and looking to help Bernie. What's more, the Russians obliged.

From their own perspective, they might have had good reason to. It's known that Clinton was detested by Putin dating from her days as Secretary of State. Not because she was a strong leader, as she argues now, but because she was so darn ignorant of them. She knew nothing of Russia or its history or its geographic situations or its desire for reclaimed lost glory -- and territory for sometimes arguable reasons, which are basically the issues it deals with among its leadership. Clinton's 'reset' button was sign enough of that, and her default ignorance propelled U.S. policy along so fecklessly, basically leaving players such as George Soros to call the shots. They hated this.

The left has since cooked up the narrative that if the Russians hated Hillary, it was because they loved Trump. They couldn't even get in contact with Trump, but yes, there were some who liked him -- because he was not Hillary.

But there were quite a few more - with power and the will to use it - who liked Sanders.

That would explain the Russian leak of the Democratic National Committee's pro-Hillary (and very conniving against Bernie) emails, which of course was blamed by Hillary's team on Trump.

It was so easy to blame Trump. But actually, the new revelations show it was a gift to Bernie. The Russians wanted Bernie - a committed pacifist who probably wouldn't get into any confrontations with Russia other than a few tut-tutting words to please the NGOs, and who was a socialist who spent his honeymoon in Moscow. Just for old time's sake, Bernie was attractive.

Here's another thing not noted by McCarthy but something that does add to the flavor. Russian propaganda networks, such as RT News, had most of their reporters rooting for Bernie, too. I know this, because I met with one of them after the election and asked who they had wanted to win. Despite the apparent conservatism of them - many were admirers of Russia's tsar - they liked Bernie, they supported Bernie. About 75% of them were Bernie supporters. Everything that was flung at Hillary from them ... was really a love letter to Bernie rather than Trump.

As for Trump, I've argued earlier that Russian officials may have liked Trump in some ways, but they also were calculating that Trump would never win. They were as surprised as anyone when he did. That would be matched by Assange's assertions that Trump would never win.

The Russian mischief does seem to have been mainly limited to the primary stage in the election, with the focus on the Democrats, and the Russian involvement after that was largely catch-up - as with the Trump tower meeting.

The Russians were rooting for someone all right - and it wasn't Trump. One can only wonder now what the Russians have planned for the man now that he's the frontrunner in this coming election, too. 

Image credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

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