Within 5 hours of Trump's statement, GRU officers targeted for the first time Clinton's personal office. After candidate Trump's remarks, Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeting 15 email accounts. The investigation did not find evidence of earlier GRU attempts to compromise accounts hosted on Clinton's email domain. It is unclear how the GRU was able to identify these email accounts, which were not public.
"It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. "Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family!"
Flynn is the 2nd Trump associate convicted in the Russia probe to be granted clemency by the president. Trump commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison. It is part of a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that for years has shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates.
The action voids the criminal case against Flynn. Democrats lambasted the pardon, calling it undeserved & unprincipled.
BIDEN: Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. I was able to get environmental organizations--as well as people worried about jobs--to support my climate plan. Because it will create millions of new good paying jobs, we're going to take 4 million buildings and 2 million homes and retrofit them so they don't leak as much energy, saving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in the process and creating significant number of jobs.
BIDEN: I asked everyone to take the pledge: Any country, no matter who it is, that interferes in American elections will pay a price. They will pay a price. And it's been overwhelmingly clear this election--I won't even get into the last one--this election, that Russia has been involved, China's been involved to some degree, and now we learn that Iran is involved. They will pay a price if I'm elected. They're interfering with American sovereignty. That's what's going on right now. They're interfering with American sovereignty. I don't think the President has said anything to Putin about it. I don't know why he hasn't said a word to Putin about it. His buddy Rudy Giuliani--he's being used as a Russian pawn. He's being fed information that is Russian that is not true. And then what happens? Nothing happens.
BIDEN: Every single person, when he was going through his impeachment, said I did my job impeccably, not one single solitary thing was out of line. The guy who got in trouble in Ukraine was this guy trying to bribe the Ukrainian government to say something negative about me, which they would not do and did not do because it never ever, ever happened.
TRUMP: I was put through a phony witch hunt for three years. It started before I got elected. They spied on my campaign. Let me just say this, Mueller and 18 angry Democrats and FBI agents all over the place spent $48 million. They went through everything I had, including my tax returns, and they found absolutely no collusion and nothing wrong.
TRUMP: I'm very underlevered. I have a very, very small percentage of debt compared. In fact, some of it, I did as favors to institutions that wanted to loan me money. $400 million compared to the assets that I have, all of these great properties all over the world, and frankly, The Bank of America building in San Francisco.
Q: Are you confirming that you do owe some $400 million?
Q: Will you release your tax returns so we can see that?
TRUMP: It turned out that I am under audit. No person in their right mind would release, prior to working out the deal with the IRS.
Q: There is no law or rule that prohibits you from releasing your tax returns.
TRUMP: No, except common sense, and intelligence. I would love to release them, and as soon as we come to a conclusion, I will release them, and very gladly.
PENCE: My son is in captain in the United States Marine Corps. My son-in-law's deployed in the United States Navy. I can assure all of you with sons and daughters serving in our military, President Donald Trump, not only respects, but reveres all of those who serve in our armed forces and any suggestion, otherwise is ridiculous. Let me also say the American people deserve to know-
BIDEN: Putin knows me; the reason he doesn't want me as president: he knows I mean it [when I say that Russia] attempting to interfere with our election is a violation of our sovereignty. I don't mean war. But they'll pay a price. They'll pay a price for it, and it'll be an economic price. I've made it clear, early on, there will be a price to pay. And if it's done again, which it appears to be being done, there will be a price to pay.
Q: Can you be more specific? What is the price to pay?
BIDEN: It wouldn't be prudent for me to be more specific. But I assure you, they will pay a price.
Q: Do you believe Russia is an enemy?
BIDEN: I believe Russia is an opponent. I really do. Putin's overwhelming objective is to break up NATO, to fundamentally alter the circumstance in Europe, so he doesn't have to face an entire NATO contingent, any one country he is stronger than.
BIDEN: I believe Russia is an opponent.
Q: Do you view China as an opponent? The President says you've been too cozy with China, too accepting of them in the international community.
BIDEN: I'm not that guy. We now have a larger trade deficit than we've ever had with China. [Trump in a negative way] keeps going on about the World Trade Organization; they just ruled that his trade policy violated [WTO rules with its tariffs on China]. In our Administration, when the WTO [was dealing with China], we sued. We went to the World Trade Organization 16 times, 16 times.
Q: Do you view China as an opponent?
BIDEN: I view China as a competitor.
BIDEN: A serious competitor. That's why, I think, we have to strengthen our relationships and our alliances in Asia. As you may recall, when I was in China, I said to Xi, "We're going to abide by international norms. That's what we're going to do and insist that they do."
BIDEN: One of the things we have to do is make sure that we investigate exactly what involvement there has been in our election and to protect against it. One of the things we have to do as well is provide the states with the wherewithal to be able to upgrade their [voting] lists, their machinery, and to make sure their encryption is safe for the voting rolls, and makes it more difficult to have cyber intrusions into anything that's being done. That requires money. There is a plan that's been put together in the Senate, by the Democrats, and I would push that plan. But it requires us to help states provide for the wherewithal to change the nature of the machinery. And I think we have to be able to be in a position where you have a paper ballot left after what happens with regard to the actual counting and the voting machine.
[President Trump] did stand next to Vladimir Putin. There was a hostile, foreign attack on our election last time and the president sided with the hostile foreign power. That's why I started "Need to Impeach."
That's what we have to do. We have to oppose a president who sides with a hostile foreign power that commits cyber warfare against the United States of America. That's where we are. Where are all these patriotic Republicans who wave the flag, but when we're actually under attack, they side with our enemies? It's outrageous.
That's why he should have been impeached. They covered it up. And I was years before these people. There's something wrong here. We're under attack, and they're not doing a darn thing about it.
WARREN: Look, I think that what we've got to do is we have to provide humanitarian relief. We need to work with our allies on this. But this is not a moment for military intervention. We have got to use our military only when we see a military problem that can be solved militarily. We cannot send our military in unless we have a plan to get them out. So, for me, this is about working with our allies. It is about standing with the people who are under enormous pressure right now. This is recognizing what Donald Trump has put us in, in a terrible box around the world. But the solution is not to use our military. The solution is to use the other tools here.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, I stand with the people of Idlib, who are being targeted, as you said, in a brutal fashion by a dictatorship that has already been so brutal for so many years. And this is one of the reasons we have got to change the balance of power in the region, because the president has basically vanished from the stage when it comes to even playing a role in the future there. Turkey, Russia, Iran all have so much more of a say than we do. We don't have to be invading countries to be making a difference, working with our international partners, in order to deliver peace and support those who are standing up for self-determination.
BIDEN: Well, I think they are. They're acts that are violating our sovereignty. I'm the guy who went over to our NATO colleagues and worked out an agreement before their last series of elections a year and a half ago, where we got everybody running for office to take a pledge that they would let anyone know that if there was any interference taking place, they would reject any outside help. And one of the very reasons why the president got impeached is because he went to outside folks, seeking help in our election. Putin is a guy who, in fact, is not anything remotely approaching a democrat with a small "d." His entire objective is to weaken Eastern Europe, bring down NATO, so that he does not have to face the constituency he faces now.
BIDEN: In retrospect, there is something. We were informed by the director of central intelligence, that there was evidence that they were interfering in electoral process, trying to break in everything from machines, to changing voter registration. That was in August; Barack Obama was worried, if we spoke out against it, without having more proof and support, then what would have happened is they'd say we're trying to interfere in the election. And so it wasn't until after [the election]--before we left the White House--that we knew the detail of how deep they were. But we went to the Republican leadership in the House, they said, "no, we don't want any part of pointing this out." We had clear, overwhelming circumstantial evidence that it was being done. And Obama did confront Putin, saying that stop it. Putin denied he was doing it. We believed he was doing it.
He says that Trump is in a "state of denial" about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, which Bloomberg calls "a hostile power's intrusions into U.S. sovereignty."
He says that lifting any sanctions on Russia or recognizing its annexation of Crimea would be "a monumental mistake." He argues that Washington must continue providing Ukraine with lethal aid for it to defend against Russian aggression and maintain faith in U.S. security guarantees.
He has called Putin a "strongman" who seeks territorial expansion and the destabilization of Europe and who has abetted war crimes in Syria by supporting Bashar al-Assad's government.
He opposes the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, arguing that it would give Putin increased leverage over European countries.
He calls for talks with Russia to extend the New START treaty, a nuclear arms reduction agreement set to expire in 2021, as well as to revive the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
He says that Trump's request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate fellow presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is "a crime in and of itself" and calls for Trump's impeachment.
Walsh emphasizes the benefits of traditional U.S. alliances and criticizes President Trump for undermining long-standing relationships. Walsh says Trump "embarrasses our allies" and "embraces tyrants abroad."
Steyer says he would "work with our traditional allies in a multilateral way" and argues that Trump's pullback from global institutions has left a vacuum that China and Russia are eager to fill. He says he will "reinvigorate" the State Department, where Trump has sought budget and staffing cuts.
Steyer opposes President Donald J. Trump's trade war with China but says the United States must "stand up strongly" to Beijing's theft of U.S. intellectual property.
He believes that Trump's America First policy has created a void in international power politics that China and Russia are eager to fill.
He says the United States should respond to abuses by authorities in Hong Kong by creating a coalition of democracies to push back, rather than seeking a bilateral solution.
He argues that the United States can't isolate itself from China, since working with China on climate and regional security will require maintaining a good relationship with Beijing.
Yang: It's clear why Americans can't agree on impeachment. We're getting our news from different sources, and it's making it hard for us even to agree on basic facts. Americans don't trust the media networks to tell them the truth. If you turn on cable network news today, you would think Donald Trump's our president because of some combination of Russia, racism, Facebook, Hillary Clinton, and e-mails all mixed together. What we have to do is we have to stop being obsessed over impeachment, which unfortunately strikes many Americans like a ballgame where you know what the score is going to be, and start actually digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. We have to take every opportunity to present a new positive vision for the country, a new way forward to help beat him in 2020, because make no mistake, he'll be there at the ballot box for us to defeat.
YANG: We're going to live up to our international commitments. We're going to recommit to our partnerships and alliances, including NATO. And it was James Mattis that said "the more you invest in diplomats and diplomacy, the less you have to spend on ammunition." That has to be the path forward to help build an international consensus not just against Russia, but also to build a coalition that will help us put pressure on China, in terms of their treatment of their ethnic minorities, and what's going on in Hong Kong.
I want to propose a new world data organization, like a WTO for data, because right now, unfortunately, we're living in a world where data is the new oil and we don't have our arms around it. These are the ways that we'll actually get Russia to the table and make it so they have to join the international community and stop resisting appeals to the world order.
YANG: Well, first, I'd say "I'm sorry I beat your guy." Or not sorry. And, second, I would say the days of meddling in American elections are over and we will take any undermining of our democratic processes as an act of hostility and aggression. The American people would back me on this. We know that they've found an underbelly and they've been clawing at it, and it's made it so that we can't even trust our own democracy. The third thing I would say is that we're going to live up to our international commitments. These are the ways that we'll actually get Russia to the table and make it so they have to join the international community and stop resisting appeals to the world order.
Joe Biden: I think I may be, doesn't make me any better or worse, but may be the only person who spent extensive time alone with Putin, as well as with Erdogan. And Erdogan understands that. You talk about should he stay in or out of NATO? He understands that he's out of NATO, he's in real trouble. But the fact of the matter is we have been one willing in this administration because we have an erratic, crazy President who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy, and operates out of fear for his own reelection. Think what's happened. The fact of the matter is you have Russia influencing and trying to break up NATO. What does the president do? He says, "I believe Vladimir Putin. I don't believe our intelligence community."
CEO Andrew Yang: We have to let Russia know, "Look, we get it. We've tampered with other elections. You've tampered with our elections. And now it has to stop."
Senator Klobuchar: I don't see a moral equivalency between our country and Russia. Vladimir Putin is someone who has shot down planes over Ukraine, who has poisoned his opponent, and we have not talked about what we need to do to protect ourselves from Russia invading our election. This wasn't meddling--that's what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she's doing. This was much more serious than that. This was actually invading our election. So to protect ourselves in 2020, we need backup paper ballots in every single state. And then we need to stop the social media companies from running paid political ads, without having to say where those ads came from and who paid for them. That's the Honest Ads Act, that's a bipartisan bill that I lead.
O'Rourke: Yes, we must be unafraid in ensuring that we hold Russia accountable for invading the world's greatest democracy, and being able to do it, thanks to Donald Trump, functionally, with impunity so far. So if there are not consequences, we will continue to see this problem going forward.
Q: How do we stand up to Russia on the global stage?
O'Rourke: We do that by renewing our alliances and our friendships. That is what makes America stronger. There isn't enough money in this country to do everything that we want to accomplish militarily. And the Kurds are case in point. In fact, because we turned our backs on them, those Kurds who fought for us in Syria, helped to defeat ISIS, not just for themselves, but for the United States of America.
Andrew Yang: We have to let Russia know, "Look, we get it. We've tampered with other elections. You've tampered with our elections. And now it has to stop. And if it does not stop, we will take this as an act of hostility against the American people." I believe most Americans would support me on this. But Russian hacking of our democracy is an illustration of the 21st century threats: artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, climate change, loose nuclear material, military drones and non-state actors. These are the threats that are going to require our administration to catch up in terms of technology. We all know we are decades behind the curve on technology. As Commander in Chief, I will help pull us forward, and that's going to be a huge responsibility of the next president.
A: We have to go through Cuba, China and Russia to rationalize the situation in Venezuela. Most of the top decision makers there are Cuban, which has hollowed out Venezuela's government, & the spillover into our ally Colombia has been dramatic. I would propose multi-party talks, in which the dynamic new Pres. Duque of Colombia, who greatly impressed me recently in Cartagena, could perhaps play a role.
A: Ukraine, while not a NATO member, is an EU partner and a treaty-recognized buffer zone between Russia and NATO. Ukraine has a sizeable population and economic zone whose seizure would be a major first step toward reconstituting the old Soviet Union's borders and corresponding influence--for Putin, it is therefore a major opportunity if it could be seized intact. Conversely, Ukraine has shown itself willing to fight and take losses in blood and treasure. Allowing Ukraine to fall would effectively "Finlandize" Europe, to the extent it has not already been. Accordingly, I would provide military aid to Ukraine--as much as was necessary. I would make it clear that if the Ukrainians wanted to defend their territory, we would help, and further incursions would be costly. I would continue to hold exercises in Eastern Europe and look at ways to defend the Baltics.
Walsh: Helsinki wasn't the turning point for me--it was the final straw with Trump--when he stood in front of the world and said "I like that guy. I believe Putin," and not my own people. So it doesn't matter about American security. He'll sit down and have a summit with Kim Jong Un, no matter how brutal and bad that guy is. If Donald Trump can get a photo op, does it matter if it's a bad horrible thing to invite the Taliban to Camp David. As long as Donald Trump might get the Nobel Peace Prize, we've got a president who can't put the country's interests ahead of ours. We need a president who will put the country's interests first.
Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, questioned Mueller on Mr. Trump's response to WikiLeaks. Mr. Mueller did not mince words: "It's problematic -- is an understatement, in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity," Mr. Mueller responded.
A: My first act in foreign policy, we're breaking up with Russia and making up with NATO.
Sen. Michel BENNET (D-CO): The biggest threat to our national security right now is Russia, not China. When I see these kids [being separated from their families] at the border, I see my mom, because she was separated from her parents during the Holocaust in Poland. For Donald Trump to be doing what he's doing to children and families at the border, the president has turned the border of the United States into a symbol of nativist hostility when we should be represented by the Statue of Liberty. We need to make a change.
Andrew YANG: I just want to agree that I think Russia is our greatest geopolitical threat, because they have been hacking our democracy successfully and they've been laughing their asses off about it for the last couple of years. We should focus on that before we start worrying about other threats.
A: It's Donald Trump. You want to talk about North Korea, a real threat in terms of nuclear arsenal, but what does he do? He embraces Kim Jong-un, a dictator, for the sake of a photo op. Putin--you want to talk about Russia? He takes the word of the Russian president over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to a threat to our democracy and our elections.
I would make sure that if there is any possibility of a conflict--and we're having this debate in Congress right now--that he comes to Congress for an authorization of military force. I would do that.
Trump: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent." Oh, I think I'd want to hear it. It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI. The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it, but you go and talk honestly to congressmen. They all do it; they always have.
TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent." Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, that they come up with oppo research. "Oh, let's call the FBI." The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it, but you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it, they always have. And that's the way it is. It's called oppo research.
[Trump's defenders also say that] "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" requires charges of a statutory crime or misdemeanor. In fact, "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust--and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars.
Supplemental information and analysis:A senior prosecutor in the Special Counsel's Office said that the Aug. 2 meeting goes "very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel's Office is investigating."
Caveats:Although Kilimnik and Manafort shared the view that Trump's support for the Ukraine peace plan would help it succeed, "the investigation did not uncover evidence of Manafort's passing along information about Ukrainian peace plans to the candidate or anyone else." The Report then notes that Manafort lied to the Special Counsel Office about the peace plan & his meetings with Kilimnik. Also, Kilimnik continued "to promote the peace plan into the summer 2018."
"I DID NOTHING WRONG," Trump said. "If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court."
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1993 that authority for impeachment trials resides in Congress and "nowhere else." The power of impeachment belongs to Congress and proceedings must be launched in the House, according to the U.S. Constitution. If representatives vote to impeach, the case is tried in the Senate.
To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.
IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was purchased on April 19, 2016, for its Instagram account "Tea Party News" asking US persons to upload photos with the hashtag "#KIDS4TRUMP." In subsequent months, the IRA purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign, predominantly through the Facebook groups.
Posts from the IRA-controlled Twitter account @TEN_GOP were cited or retweeted by multiple Trump Campaign officials, including Donald J. Trump Jr., Eric Trump, & Kellyanne Conway. These posts included allegations of voter fraud, as well as allegations that Secretary Clinton had mishandled classified information.
In sum, the [Mueller] investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election through the social media campaign carried out by the IRA. IRA employees violated US law through these operations, principally by undermining through deceptive acts the work of federal agencies charged with regulating foreign influence in U.S. elections.
Although the President publicly stated during and after the election that he had no connection to Russia, the Trump Organization, through Michael Cohen's repeated briefings, was pursuing the proposed Trump Tower Moscow project through June 2016.
In addition, some witnesses said that Trump privately sought information about future WikiLeaks releases [of Russian email hacks]. More broadly, multiple witnesses described the President's preoccupation with press coverage of the Russia investigation and his persistent concern that it raised questions about the legitimacy of his election.
That weekend, the President called McGahn and directed him to have the Special Counsel removed because of asserted conflicts of interest. McGahn did not carry out the instruction for fear of being seen as triggering another Saturday Night Massacre and instead prepared to resign. McGahn ultimately did not quit and the President did not follow up with McGahn on his request to remove the Special Counsel.
On May 9, 2017, Trump snapped; the president unceremoniously fired Comey. He conveyed the news in a terse letter, hand-delivered to FBI headquarters.
Trump's closest aides had warned him that the move could trigger a political uproar and lead to an expansion of the Russia inquiry--and it did. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill cried foul. The FBI, already deep into its investigation of election interference, now feared that the most powerful man in the country was trying to obstruct its work.
Robert Mueller was appointed to lead an independent investigation of interference in the 2016 election and other matters that might stem from the inquiry. It was a broad mandate.
Mueller's team racked up an extraordinary record. His prosecutors charged thirty-four people, including twenty-six Russian nationals. They secured guilty pleas from seven people, including a former national security adviser and the chairman of Trump's campaign. They reconstructed day-to-day interactions of Trump's closest aides and his adult children, exploring dozens of instances of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. They documented the Russian attack on American democracy in breathtaking detail, even tracing individual keystrokes of Russian military officers in Moscow.
Mueller's 24-page statement of offenses describes all of Paul Manafort's crimes. He agreed that he conspired against the US by illegally laundering through offshore accounts the $60 million he earned in Ukraine from 2006 to 2016. He evaded $15 million in US taxes. He failed to register as a foreign lobbyist while helping his Ukraine clients press their views in Washington.
The conduct outlined by Mueller painted a devastating portrait of Donald Trump's campaign chairman. Manafort had volunteered to work for Trump for free but was drowning in debt at the time. He appeared eager to use his campaign role to angle for money from his wealthy patrons in Ukraine and Russia, working in concert with an alleged Russian intelligence asset. His service for Trump coincided with the ramp-up of Russians intervention in the US election and a ratcheting-up of Trump's pro-Russia campaign rhetoric.
The special counsel's office would reveal that Cohen met with its investigators seven times. The motive for his lying to Congress was to "minimize links" between the Moscow project and Trump. [Cohen was imprisoned in May 2019, after the publication of the Mueller Report].
IRA Facebook groups active during the 2016 campaign covered a range of political issues and included purported conservative groups (with names such as "Being Patriotic," "Stop All Immigrants," "Secured Borders," and "Tea Party News").
Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example, on April 6, 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements for its account "Black Matters," calling for a "flashmob" of U.S. persons to take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016." IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative.
A little more than a year into his investigation, Mueller made this much clear: he knew exactly who carried out the hack, and how they did it. In Mueller's 29-page indictment of a dozen officers of the Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, Mueller described in granular detail how the group hacked the emails, then laundered the stolen messages through fake online personas so they could be shared to influence voters.
Notably, Mueller did not include any Americans in the indictment, and he similarly spared the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.
The indictment alleged, "At or around the same time they also targeted 76 email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign."
In February, Trump pulled Comey aside in the Oval Office and, referring to the FBI's investigation [and] asked him to "let this go," according to Comey's account.
Shortly after, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would rescue himself from any investigation of the 2016 campaign. The recusal came after The Washington Post reported that during the presidential campaign, Sessions, had twice met with Russia's ambassador to the United States. Sessions had not disclosed the meetings when he was asked at his confirmation hearing about contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign.
The IRA's Twitter operations created individual U.S. personas, and also operated a "hot network" of automated Twitter accounts, that enabled the IRA to amplify existing content on Twitter.
The IRA continuously posted original content to the accounts while also communicating with U.S. Twitter users directly (through public tweeting or Twitter's private messaging). The IRA used many of these accounts to attempt to influence U.S. audiences on the election.
The IRA provoked reactions from users and the media. Multiple IRA-posted tweets gained popularity. U.S. media outlets also quoted tweets from IRA-controlled accounts and attributed them to the reactions of real U.S. persons. Individualized accounts included @MissouriNewsUS (an account with 3,800 followers that posted pro-Sanders and anti-Clinton material).
But President Trump has questioned this essential alliance. He has criticized it, and he has weakened it. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of America's role in the world. We must stand with our allies.
We must support the alliance's efforts to transition resources to the increasing threat from cyber attacks around the globe--most especially from Russia. NATO needs even more fortification to fight this growing menace, which may soon become the gravest threat facing the American people.
As NATO looks ahead to its next 70 years, the United States must continue to be a leader for peace and security. And we must do so in concert with our allies.
Former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe said in an interview with 60 Minutes that Trump dismissed the intelligence agencies' finding of the threat posed by North Korea's missiles by saying, "I don't care. I believe Putin."
Trump has said in 2018 that he holds Putin responsible for election meddling, but he has also attacked the intelligence community and undercut their findings.
The only thing I ever inherited was my mother's dream and belief in the American Dream. Because of her, I became the first person in my family to go to and to graduate from college. I got my first job selling office equipment door-to-door, and always gave half of my paychecks to my parents.
As part of our military build-up, the US is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.
Decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities. While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty.
Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can't--in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.
He said the US has adhered to the pact for more than 30 years, "but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions. We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other."
NATO said that if Moscow failed to destroy all new missile systems that Washington insists violate the treaty, "Russia will bear sole responsibility for the end of the treaty."
An American withdrawal had been expected for months, after years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the pact. It was the first arms control measure to ban an entire class of weapons: ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers. Russia denies that it has been in violation.
James Lankford and I were the only members of the Senate who served on both the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. As such, we were uniquely suited to come together in a nonpartisan way to develop legislation to combat these attacks. At the end of December 2017, we introduced the Secure Elections Act, to protect the U.S. from future foreign interference in our elections.
The legislation would establish clear expert guidelines for securing election systems--including, for example, the need for paper ballots. Russia might be able to hack a machine from afar, but it can't hack a piece of paper. And it would provide $386 million in grants for cybersecurity improvements. It would also establish what's known as a bug bounty program for election infrastructure--where hackers are paid for identifying software vulnerabilities.
SANDERS: It makes me think that either Trump doesn't understand what Russia has done--not only to our elections, but through cyber-attacks against all parts of our infrastructure--or perhaps he is being blackmailed by Russia, because they may have compromising information about him. Or maybe he admires the kind of government that Putin is running in Russia. We have got to make sure that Russia does not interfere, not only in our elections, but in other aspects of our lives.
Q: How do you protect yourselves in the next race against something like that happening?
SANDERS: We need a president who is going to do everything to work with statewide officials all over this country to make sure that, when people cast a vote, that vote is going to count. Congress has allocated money to strengthen the protection of our electoral system. The president has got to be aggressive in implementing that. The integrity of American democracy is at stake.
TRUMP: Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly. They're a foe. But that doesn't mean they're bad. It means that they're competitors. They want to do well, and we want to do well. And we're starting to do well.
Q: A lot of people might be surprised to hear you list the E.U. as a foe before China and Russia.
TRUMP: No, I look at them all. Look, E.U. is very difficult, I want to tell you. Don't forget, both of my parents were born in E.U. sectors, OK? I mean, my mother was Scotland. My father, Germany. And, you know, I love those countries. I respect the leaders of those countries. But, in a trade sense, they have really taken advantage of us, & many of those countries are in NATO. And they weren't paying their bills.
"Heading to Helsinki, Finland--looking forward to meeting with President Putin˙ tomorrow," Trump˙tweeted. "Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn't good enough--that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!"
"Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct!" Trump˙added. "This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country--but at some point, it will heal!"
U.S.-Russian agreements such as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) were designed to achieve greater stability and security when it comes to nuclear weapons, and that goal should not be abandoned lightly. With New START expiring in 2021 and the INF Treaty on the verge of being fatally undermined by Russia's noncompliance, we need to think long and hard about walking away from them. Unless we are convinced that they are unsalvageable, agreements that by and large have worked for the two states holding more than 90% of the world's nuclear weapons should not be allowed to fall apart.
The named defendants in the lawsuit include Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and campaign official Richard Gates, and Trump ally Roger Stone. Also named is the Russian Federation, the general staff of the Russian armed force, a Russian intelligence services hacker known as Guccifer 2.0., Wikileaks and its leader Julian Assange, and 10 unidentified people.
"No one is above the law," the suit says. "In the run-up to the 2016 election, Russia mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy. The opening salvo was an attack on the DNC, carried out on American soil."
The suit alleges claims that include conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, misappropriation of trade secrets, trespass, and other violations of the law.
First, they sought to undermine confidence in the American democratic enterprise--to dirty us up so that our election process would no longer be an inspiration to the rest of the world.
Second, the Russians wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton. Putin hated her, blaming her personally for large street demonstrations against him in Moscow in December 2011. Putin believed Clinton had given "a signal" to demonstrators by publicly criticizing what she called "troubling practices" before and during the Parliamentary vote in Russia that year. She said, "The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted." Putin took that as an unforgivable personal attack.
Third, Putin wanted to help Donald Trump win.
Some of his colleagues are concerned. "It's not good politics in the end," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "It says you don't trust the president."
Tillis is working with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on the bill, which would allow a special counsel a 10-day window to fight a potential removal by the Trump administration and could soon see a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.
As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.
BIDEN: I think that'd be a little bit of an exaggeration. The Cold War was based on a conflict of two profoundly different ideological notions of how the world should function. This is just basically about a kleptocracy protecting itself. That's a vast oversimplification. It's much easier if you're dealing with 28 different nations not in union with one another, not a Western economy that is coordinated.
BIDEN: We're talking about Russian interference in the United States, whether there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. That's obscured a much larger discussion that should be taking place about whether or not what Russia is doing in the rest of the world right now and what Russia is doing in Europe right now.
Q: There is bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would put in place sanctions that would snap in place on Russia if in the future any determination is made that foreign election interference has happened. Do you think this is an appropriate step?
BIDEN: I think it is an appropriate step. I'm sure there are consequences that could flow that are ones we did not anticipate, but were I in the Senate, I'd be supporting that legislation.
I was the point man for our administration on the crisis, which was exactly where I wanted to be. There were academics in the news saying Ukraine was bound to be a defeat for the West, & it would be an unwelcome albatross on my neck if I ran for president in 2016. "He's tied to Ukraine policy," a presidential scholar from Pennsylvania told a reporter. "So he could be vulnerable." I didn't much care. There was an important principle at stake: big countries ought not to beat up smaller ones, especially after they had given their word not to. Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons program years earlier--in return for a guarantee from the U.S., the United Kingdom, AND RUSSIA to respect its borders and its sovereignty. Two of the three larger countries had kept that promise.
"I did stand here six years ago and in the first major foreign policy address of our administration, I spoke about the 'reset,'" We have moved from resetting this important relationship to reasserting the fundamental bedrock principles on which European freedom and stability rest. And I'll say it again: inviolate borders, no spheres of influence, the sovereign right to choose your own alliances. I cannot repeat that often enough. We need to remain resolute and united in our support of Ukraine. What happens there will resonate well beyond Ukraine. It matters to all--not just in Europe, but around the world--all who may be subject to aggression."
President Obama's sympathies were all with Ukraine, but he was not going to allow this regional conflict to escalate into a hot war with Russia. Barack was a student of modern world history, and an incisive one. He was always on guard of the age-old mistake of allowing smaller brush fires to be unwittingly fed until they had become terrifying conflagrations beyond anyone's control. He would caution me sometimes about overpromising to the new Ukrainian government. "We're not going to send in the 82nd Airborne, Joe. The president and I agreed that we could and should convince our European allies to support and extend serious economic sanctions against Russia. But economic sanctions were as far as the U.S. and its allies in Europe would go.
I know some people don't want to hear about these things, especially from me. But we have to get this right. The lessons we draw from 2016 could help determine whether we can heal our democracy and protect it in the future, and whether we as citizens can begin to bridge our divides. I want my grandchildren and all future generations to know what really happened. We have a responsibility to history--and to a concerned world--to set the record straight.
Bill and I checked with the Bushes and the Carters to see what they were thinking. Were they going to the inauguration? Yes.
That gave me the push I needed. Bill & I would go. That's how I ended up right inside the door of the Capitol on January 20, waiting to be announced. It had been such a long journey to get here. Now I just had to take a few more steps. I took Bill's arm.
I know some people don't want to hear about these things, especially from me. But we have to get this right. The lessons we draw from 2016 could help determine whether we can heal our democracy and protect it in the future, and whether we as citizens can begin to bridge our divides.
The Russia reversal and the NATO turnabout were inherently linked, of course. As Russia appears more ominous, NATO seems more necessary. But the shift in attitude also offered one of the starkest examples yet of Trump's evolving views: "We must not be trapped by the tired thinking that so many have, but apply new solutions to face new circumstances throughout the world," Trump said at his news conference with the NATO secretary general.
Trump's campaign criticism of NATO stunned many at home and abroad, especially when he suggested conditioning America's commitment to defend its treaty allies on whether they had met their financial obligations.
The missile strike, in response to a chemical weapons attack, was intended to be a limited, one-time operation, and the president seemed determined to quickly move on. Critics, including Senator Marco Rubio, argued that Syria's President Assad felt free to launch a chemical attack precisely because the Trump administration had given him a green light.
Trump's action in Syria was welcomed by many traditional American allies who had fretted over Obama's reluctance to take a greater leadership role in the Middle East. After the missile strike, Israeli news outlets were filled with headlines like "The Americans Are Back," and European leaders expressed relief both that he had taken action and that he had not gone too far.
KASICH: If our intelligence community thinks we need to get to the bottom of this, I believe that perhaps a joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee investigation ought to get to the bottom of Russian hacking. Were they trying to influence our election? You know, what is it all about? What's the bottom line? Now, I don't favor at this point moving it outside of the Intelligence Committees. I think that the Intelligence Committees have the capability to conduct a thorough understanding of what happened, so that we can be in a position to prevent it in the future. Many European countries are worried about Russia's hacking their elections, disrupting their elections. So, I believe that the House and Senate can carry this out. And I think that it has to be done in a bipartisan and thorough way. If that investigation becomes partisan, then we have to look at something more independent.
PENCE: That quote was a commitment to explore the possibility of starting anew and looking for common cause with Russia and with President Putin.
Q: Doesn't that put the US on moral par with Putin's Russia?
PENCE: I simply don't accept that there was any moral equivalency in the president's comments.
Q: President Obama was criticized consistently by conservatives for not praising American exceptionalism.
PENCE: We recognize the extraordinary superiority of the ideals of the American people and the implementation of those ideals.
Q: Do you think America is morally superior to Russia?
PENCE: I believe that the ideals that America has stood for throughout our history represent the highest ideals of humankind.
Q: But America morally superior to Russia, yes or no?
PENCE: I think it is without question.
PENCE: The president-elect is willing to approach this terrible relationship the United States has with Russia today with fresh eyes and to at least be open to a better relationship with Vladimir Putin and with Russia. Look, we have some common interests that would be well served if we were able to improve our relationship with Russia. The president-elect is determined to re-engage the world, put America first, and see if we can make progress for the security and peace of the world.
Q: Does Donald Trump demand that Russia get out of eastern Ukraine?
PENCE: Whether it be eastern Ukraine or Crimea, that the action by the Russians has demonstrated the absence of American leadership over the last eight years--
Q: What does the new leadership want to do?
PENCE: I think America is going to be more respected in the world the very moment that Donald Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.
Currently, the US has just under 5,000 warheads in its active arsenal, and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads, a number that fluctuates. In an October assessment by the State Department, Russia has about 400 more nuclear warheads than the US does. But the US has about 170 more delivery systems than Russia.
Under the New START Treaty, the main strategic arms treaty in place, both the U.S. and Russia must deploy no more than 1,550 strategic weapons by February of 2018. Both countries appear to be on track to meet that limit, which will remain in force until 2021, when they could decide to extend the agreement for another five years.
Since , it has been U.S. policy not to build new nuclear warheads. Under President Obama, the policy has been not to pursue warheads with new military capabilities.
In a tweet that offered no details, Trump said, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
During the campaign, Trump talked in one debate about the need to modernize the country's infrastructure of nuclear weaponry, saying the US is falling behind.
Trump's tweet came shortly after Putin, during a defense ministry meeting, said, "We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems."
TRUMP: I don't know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good. He has no respect for our president. He has no respect for [Hillary Clinton].
CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States.
TRUMP: No puppet. You're the puppet!
CLINTON: It's pretty clear you won't admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, [but] we have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these cyberattacks come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.
TRUMP: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China, or anybody else.
Q: Do you condemn any interference by Russia in the American election?
TRUMP: By Russia or anybody else. Let me tell you, Putin has outsmarted her and Obama at every single step of the way.
TRUMP: I don't know Putin, but he has no respect for our president and no respect for [Hillary Clinton].
CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States. It's pretty clear that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the US, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race. So I think that this is such an unprecedented situation. We've never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17 intelligence agencies who have all concluded that these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.
TRUMP: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China, or anybody else.
TRUMP: Three months ago, I read that they're going to attack Mosul. Whatever happened to the element of surprise? We announce we're going after Mosul. These people have all left.
CLINTON: The goal here is to take back Mosul. It's going to be a hard fight. I've got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqa, which is the ISIS headquarters. I am hopeful that the hard work that American military advisers have done will pay off and that we will see a successful military operation.
TRUMP: Assad turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought. Everyone thought he was gone two years ago. He aligned with Russia. We don't know who the rebels are. But if they overthrow Assad, as bad as Assad is, you may very well end up with worse than Assad.
CLINTON: I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict. I'm aware of the concerns that you have expressed. This would not be done on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation. And it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe zones on the ground. We've had millions of people leave Syria and those millions of people inside Syria who have been dislocated.
TRUMP: Assad turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought. Everyone thought he was gone two years ago. He aligned with Russia. He now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful. We don't know who the rebels are. But if they overthrow Assad, as bad as Assad is, and he's a bad guy, but you may very well end up with worse than Assad.
CLINTON: I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict. I'm aware of the concerns that you have expressed. This would not be done on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation. And it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe zones on the ground.
TRUMP: We are so outplayed on missiles, on cease-fires. But our country is so outplayed by Putin and Assad, and by the way--and by Iran. Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.
Bill Weld: Clinton's "no fly zone" for Syria risks war. Our policy would have been more restrained than hers. Half of the population of rebel-held Aleppo have said they will leave if there is a path. I am afraid that Assad is going to take the territory. My priority now would be to prevent further slaughter of innocents in Aleppo.
A: First of all, I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees, women & children--think of that picture we all saw of that 4-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he'd been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces. We need to do our part. We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are. But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our intelligence experts and others. It is important for us not to say, as Trump has said, "we're going to ban people based on a religion." We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty. How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country? What he said was extremely unwise and even dangerous. You can look at the propaganda on a lot of the terrorists sites, and what Trump says about Muslims is used to recruit fighters.
A: Russia hasn't paid any attention to ISIS. They're interested in keeping Assad in power. When I was secretary of state, I advocated--and I advocate today--a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution unless there is some leverage over them. I want to emphasize that what is at stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia. Russia has decided that it's all in, in Syria. They've also decided who they want to see become president of the US, too, and it's not me. I've stood up to Russia. I've taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president. Wherever we can cooperate with Russia, that's fine. And I did as secretary of state. That's how we got a treaty reducing nuclear weapons. It's how we got the sanctions on Iran that put a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot.
TRUMP: He and I haven't spoken, and I disagree.
Q: You disagree with your running mate?
TRUMP: I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS We have people that want to fight both at the same time.
[OnTheIssues note: Russia & the Assad regime are bombing both ISIS & the Syrian rebels; the US is bombing ISIS but supports the Syrian rebels].
TRUMP: But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it's Iran, who [Hillary] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation. I believe we have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved.
I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. It begins by rebuilding our military. And the Russians & the Chinese have been making enormous investments in the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1916. We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the Second World War. We've got to work with Congress, and Donald Trump will, to rebuild our military & project American strength in the world. We've just got to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they're dealing with a strong American president.
I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. It begins by rebuilding our military. And the Russians & the Chinese have been making enormous investments in the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1916. We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the Second World War. We've got to work with Congress, and Donald Trump will, to rebuild our military & project American strength in the world. We've just got to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they're dealing with a strong American president.
A: We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we're not. I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying "Russia, Russia, Russia," but I don't. Maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? We came up with the Internet, and Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the Internet, they're beating us at our own game. So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it's hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that's true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better and certainly cyber is one of them.
A: I think cyber security & cyber warfare will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president, because clearly we're facing at this point two different kinds of adversaries. There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons to try to steal information that they can use to make money. But increasingly, we are seeing cyber attacks coming from states. The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia.
He said he doesn't mind the political backlash he could face. "I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party," Kasich said. Kasich and Obama could be facing an uphill battle: Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton oppose the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal, which Obama has pitched as a way to counterbalance China's rise in the region.
A: I've built a great company. I've been all over the world. I've dealt with foreign countries. I've done tremendously well dealing with China and with many of the countries that are just ripping this country. I think the main thing is I have great judgment.
Q: What steps would you take to bring Putin back to negotiating table?
A: I would have a good relationship with Putin. Take a look at what happened with their fighter jets circling one of our aircraft in a very dangerous manner. Somebody said less than 10 feet away. This is hostility. Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could knock the hell out of ISIS?
Q: Putin called you a brilliant leader.
A: When he calls me brilliant, I'll take the compliment. The fact is, look, it's not going to get him anywhere. I'm a negotiator. We're going to take back our country.
The now-famous DNC emails that we later learned were stolen by hackers working for a Russian intelligence agency had been released at the start of the convention. The content of these emails, which were not a shock to me, showed that the leadership of the DNC had tilted the playing field during the primary in favor of Hillary Clinton's campaign. As a result, the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign. Many of my delegate, who were not great fans of Hillary Clinton or the democratic establishment to begin with, were further enraged.
TRUMP: What we want to do, when we want to do it, and how hard do we want to hit? We are going to have to hit hard to knock out ISIS. We're going to have to learn who our allies are. We have allies, we have no idea who they are in Syria. Do we want to stay that route, or do we want to go and make something with Russia?
KASICH: First of all -- yes. We have to make it clear to Russia what we expect. We don't have to declare an enemy or threaten, but we need to make clear what we expect. Number one is we will arm the folks in Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom. Secondly, an attack on NATO is an attack on us.
TRUMP: We're going to have to learn who our allies are [against ISIS]. We have allies, we have no idea who they are in Syria. Do we want to stay that route, or do we want to go and make something with Russia?
BUSH: The very basic fact is that Vladimir Putin is not going to be an ally of the United States. The whole world knows this. It's a simple basic fact.
Q [to Trump]: You said that you could get along very well with Vladimir Putin. You did say let Russia take care of ISIS.
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong. You fight ISIS first. You have to knock 'em out. You decide what to do after, you can't fight two wars at one time. If you listen to him, that's why we've been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven't won anything. We've spent $5 trillion dollars in the Middle East with thinking like that. We've spent $5 trillion dollars; we have to rebuild our country. We have to rebuild our infrastructure. you listen to that you're going to be there for another 15 years. You'll end up with world war three.
CLINTON: This is one of the areas I've disagreed with Senator Sanders on, who has called for Iranian troops trying to end civil war in Syria, which I think would be a grave mistake. Putting Iranian troops right on the border of the Golan right next to Israel would be a nonstarter for me. Trying to get Iran and Saudi Arabia to work together, as he has suggested in the past, is equally a nonstarter.
CLINTON: What Secretary Carter is looking at is the constant pressure that Russia's putting on our European allies. I think what Secretary Carter is seeing is that we got to get NATO back working for the common defense. We've got to do more to support our partners in NATO, and we have to send a clear message to Putin that this kind of belligerence will have to be responded to.
SANDERS: No I don't. I worry about Putin and his military adventurism in the Crimea, but I worry more about an isolated country. Russia lives in the world. China lives in the world. North Korea is a strange country because it is so isolated, and I do feel that a nation with nuclear weapons, they have got to be dealt with.
SANDERS: I think we do have an honest disagreement: in the incredible quagmire of Syria, where it's hard to know who's fighting who and if you give arms to this guy, it may end up in ISIS' hand the next day. And we all know--the secretary is absolutely right--Assad is a butcher of his own people, a man using chemical weapons against his own people. But I think in terms of our priorities in the region, our first priority must be the destruction of ISIS. Our second priority must be getting rid of Assad, through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia. But the immediate task is to bring all interests together who want to destroy ISIS, including Russia, including Iran, including our Muslim allies to make that the major priority.
The "next eight nations combined" add up to $532 billion annual military expenditures. Compare that to the U.S.'s annual total of $581 billion, and Pres. Obama is accurate. (Sen. Rand Paul said in 2015 the same statement about "the next ten countries combined," and we rated his statement "loosely accurate", but Obama could have gone up to "the next nine nations combined" adding in South Korea's $34B). Obama's point was the same as Paul's: the U.S. has by far the strongest military on earth, and we need not increase military spending to maintain our military dominance.
"You know, last year, Vice President Biden said that, with a new moon-shot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they've had in over a decade. .
"So tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he's gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I'm putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the families that we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let's make it happen. And medical research is critical."
SANDERS: I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. I worry that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change without knowing what the unintended consequences might be. Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. Getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you've got to think about what happens the day after. We need to put together broad coalitions to [avoid having a] political vacuum filled by terrorists. In Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and [it's a] secondary issue to get rid of Assad.
CRUZ: We keep hearing from President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Washington Republicans that they're searching for these mythical moderate rebels. It's like a purple unicorn. They never exist. These moderate rebels end up being jihadists.
KASICH: I don't understand this thing about Assad. He has to go. Assad is aligned with Iran and Russia. The one thing we want to prevent is we want to prevent Iran being able to extend a Shia crescent all across the Middle East. Assad has got to go. And there are moderates there. There are moderates in Syria who we should be supporting. I do not support a civil war. I don't want to be policeman of the world. But we can't back off of this. And let me tell you, at the end, the Saudis have agreed to put together a coalition inside of Syria to stabilize that country. Assad must go. It will be a blow to Iran and Russia.
KASICH: I don't mind if we give some humanitarian aid to the Jordanians or the Saudis if need be, but I've been for this no-fly zone so that we can have a sanctuary for people to be safe. And it was the Kurds and perhaps the Jordanians who could defend it. But the Russians have now deployed S-400 air defense system that threatens our ability to move around. The only thing you can do with that air defense system is to take it out. And of course that's very serious.
Q: You would take out a Russian air defense system?
KASICH: No, I think that we should proceed with moving forward on a no-fly zone. And I think we should proceed by putting boots on the ground and a coalition with Europeans and with our friends in the Middle East like we had in the first Gulf War to destroy ISIS once and for all.
"We need to beam messages around the world" about the freedoms Americans enjoy, Kasich said. "It means freedom, it means opportunity, it means respect for women, it means freedom to gather, it means so many things."
The US already has a government-funded broadcast system in Voice of America, which broadcasts American news and programming abroad. The radio, television and digital audience reaches up to 188 million people per week.
TRUMP: As far as Syria, if Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100%, and I can't understand how anybody would be against it.
Q: They're not doing that.
TRUMP: They blew up a Russian airplane. He cannot be in love with these people. He's going in, and we can go in, and everybody should go in. As far as the Ukraine is concerned, we have a group of people, and a group of countries, including Germany--why are we always doing the work? I'm all for protecting Ukraine--but, we have countries that are surrounding the Ukraine that aren't doing anything. They say, "Keep going, keep going, you dummies, keep going. Protect us." And we have to get smart. We can't continue to be the policeman of the world.
Pataki said, "Clinton put an unsecure server, in her home. We have no doubt that that was hacked, and that state secrets are out there to the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese and others."
It is true that Clinton had a personal email account on a private server. It is also true that some emails contained unmarked classified information. But was Clinton's server "hacked"? And did the Iranians, Russians and Chinese obtain "state secrets"? That's all speculation.
Pataki is referring to reports of hacking attempts that may or may not have been successful. Investigations have found that some hacking attempts originated from Russia, China, South Korea and Germany--but no evidence that any were successful.
CLINTON: We have an opportunity here--and inside the administration this is being hotly debated--to get that leverage to try to get the Russians to have to deal with everybody in the region and begin to move toward a political, diplomatic solution in Syria.
Q [to Sanders]: Putin in Syria?
SANDERS: I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing.
Q: He doesn't seem to be the type of guy to regret a lot.
SANDERS: I think he's already regretting what he did in Crimea and what he is doing in the Ukraine. I think he is really regretting the decline of his economy. And I think what he is trying to do now is save some face. But I think when Russians get killed in Syria and when he gets bogged down, I think the Russian people are going to give him a message that maybe they should come home, maybe they should start working with the United States to rectify the situation now.
CLINTON: I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they've got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict. And, to provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are.
SANDERS: Well, let's understand that when we talk about Syria, you're talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You're talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You're talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa. I will do everything that I can to make sure that the U.S. does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.
CHAFEE: I have to answer one thing that Senator Webb said about the Iran deal. He said that because of the Iran deal, Russia came in. That's not true, Senator Webb. I respect your foreign policy chops. But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria. So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.
WEBB: I believe that the signal that we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded was that we are accepting Iran's greater position on this very important balance of power, among our greatest ally Israel, and I think it encouraged the acts that we've seen in the past several weeks.
TRUMP: I want our military to be beyond anything, no contest, and technologically, most importantly. But we are going to get bogged down in Syria. If you look at what happened with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, that's when they went bankrupt.
Q: So, you think Putin's going to get suckered into--
TRUMP: They're going to get bogged down. Everybody that's touched the Middle East, they've gotten bogged down. Now, Putin wants to go in and I like that Putin is bombing the hell out of ISIS. Putin has to get rid of ISIS because Putin doesn't want ISIS coming into Russia.
Q: Why do you trust him and nobody else does?
TRUMP: I don't trust him. But the truth is, it's not a question of trust. I don't want to see the United States get bogged down. We've spent now $2 trillion in Iraq, probably a trillion in Afghanistan. We're destroying our country.
Kasich also sharply criticized President Barack Obama for what he said were years of inaction in the region that has allowed Assad to remain in power. "No more dickering, no more delaying, no more negotiations, he has to go," Kasich said of Assad. "The longer we look at the void that America has created in this world, the more chaos we have. The time has come for the United States to act."
Kasich said the zones would provide refuge for Syrians fleeing the 4-year-old civil war that has killed a quarter million people and displaced an estimated 4 million. He suggested regional assistance from Turkey, Jordan and the Kurds and said the administration should encourage European allies to help enforce any no-fly zones. "A no-fly zone can be very, very effective if it's enforced," he said.
TRUMP: Well, I had heard that he wanted to meet with me. And certainly I am open to it. I don't know that it's going to take place, but I know that people have been talking. We'll see what happens. But certainly, if he wanted to meet, I would love to do that. You know, I've been saying relationship is so important in business, that it's so important in deals, and so important in the country. And if President Obama got along with Putin, that would be a fabulous thing. But they do not get along. Putin does not respect our president. And I'm sure that our president does not like him very much.
TRUMP: Number one, they have to respect you. He has absolutely no respect for President Obama. Zero. I would talk to him. I would get along with him. I believe I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with. I think I will get along with Putin, and I will get along with others, and we will have a much more stable world.
Bernie is against the expansion of NATO because it provokes unnecessary aggression from Russia. Moreover, he believes European nations should fund more of the costs of an alliance primarily intended to protect their continent.
Q: What is Bernie's opinion on NATO expansion?
A: He's against it, claiming it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and not geo-politically sound. In 1997, Bernie said: "After four decades of the cold war and trillions of taxpayer dollars allocated to compete in the arms race, it is not the time to continue wasting billions helping to defend Europe, let alone assuming any costs associated with expanding NATO eastward." Bernie opposes eastward expansion because he's not interested in revisiting the Cold War era when Russia and the US were constantly pitted against each other.
TRUMP: I'm a little concerned about NATO from this standpoint. Take Ukraine. We're leading Ukraine. Where's Germany? Where are the countries of Europe leading? I don't mind helping them. Why isn't Germany leading this charge? Why is the United States? I mean, we're like the policemen of the world. And why are we leading the charge in Ukraine?
Q: So you wouldn't allow Ukraine into NATO?
TRUMP: I would not care that much. Whether it goes in or doesn't go in, I wouldn't care. Look, I would support NATO.
Q: It sounds like you're not a fan of NATO
TRUMP: I'm a fan of fairness. I'm a fan of common sense. I'm certainly not a fan of us being against Russia. Why are we always at the forefront of everything?
Trump has said that the U.S. is mishandling current Iran negotiations and should have walked away from the table once Tehran reportedly rejected the idea of sending enriched uranium to Russia. He would increase sanctions on Iran. Trump has been sharply critical of the Obama administration's handling of relations with Israel and has called for a closer alliance with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Chafee told MSNBC in April that to fight Islamic State, America must forge stronger alliances and rebuild its relationship with Russia. The former governor opposes open-ended U.S. military action and supports contained strategies, citing the 1990 Gulf War as an example.
When I visited Moscow in 2009, I thought it important to speak out in support of press freedoms and against the official campaign of intimidation. I met with journalists, lawyers, and other civil society leaders, including one activist who told me that he had been badly beaten by unidentified thugs. These Russians had seen friends and colleagues harassed, intimidated, even killed, yet they went on working, writing, and speaking, refusing to be silenced. I assured them that the US would publicly and privately raise human rights concerns with the Russian government.
Putin sees geopolitics as a zero-sum game in which, if someone is winning, then someone else has to be losing. That's an outdated but still dangerous concept, one that requires the US to show both strength and patience. To manage our relationship with the Russians, we should work with them on specific issues when possible, and rally other nations to work with us to prevent or limit their negative behavior when needed.
Putin sees geopolitics as a zero-sum game in which, if someone is winning, then someone else has to be losing. That's an outdated but still dangerous concept, one that requires the US to show both strength and patience. To manage our relationship with the Russians, we should work with them on specific issues when possible, and rally other nations to work with us to prevent or limit their negative behavior when needed. That's a difficult but essential balance to strike.
This was months before Obama ultimately turned away from meeting with Putin, as Russia harbored NSA leaker Snowden. But by including this memo, she reminds readers that Clinton--who became the face of the Russian reset as the top spokesperson for the Obama administration--was more hawkish on Putin than others in the administration.
It's helpful to her at a time when Republicans have been lambasting her over Russian's aggression against Ukraine.
[Those making that argument] should ponder how much more serious the crisis would be--and how much more difficult it would be--to contain further Russian aggression if Eastern and Central European nations were not now NATO allies. The NATO door should remain open, and we should be clear and tough-minded in dealing with Russia.
If Putin is restrained and doesn't push beyond Crimea into eastern Ukraine it will not be because he has lost his appetite for more power, territory and influence.
Her comments came at a marketing industry conference as pro-Russia protests in the eastern part of Ukraine were ongoing. The United States has condemned the protest as the transparent work of Russia attempting to provoke a response.
Clinton has spoken out a number of times against Putin's action in Crimea. She reiterated a point she has made before that the Russia leader is a "tough guy with thin skin."
In the past, she has said Russia's pretext for invading Crimea in order to protect ethnic Russians was similar to arguments made by Germany in World War II.
But we are not naive--neither Russia or the US. We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the US will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. These differences are real. But we continue to see opportunities for the US & Russia to partner in ways that advance our mutual security interest & the interest of the international community--whether by safeguarding and reducing nuclear arsenals, or boosting our trade & investment to help each other unlock the enormous innovative potential of our societies.
A: Our policy is prevention, not containment. And we have, through hard work with the international community, imposed the toughest set of sanctions on any country. We know it's having an effect. We have to continue to keep them isolated, and keep Russia and China on board. [But] we've said from the very beginning, we're open to diplomacy. We are doing so in the so-called P5-plus-1 format.
Q: What about military action against them?
A: Well, we've always said all options are on the table. The president has been very clear about that. [With regards to the] terrorism aspect of Iran's behavior, when I came into office, there were too many countries that were turning a blind eye to it. We have worked very hard to get the international community to say these guys need to be stopped on the terrorism front. They cannot be permitted to go forward.
Not surprisingly, Putin was ecstatic: "The latest decision by President Obama has positive implications," said Putin. "I very much hope that this very right and brave decision will be followed by others."
The Obama administration made the decision to throw our friends Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus and leave them naked to missile attacks "despite having no public guarantees" that Moscow would help crack down on Iran's missile programs.
While we no longer considered each other enemies, you couldn't always tell that from the rhetoric flying back and forth. Ironically, this came at a time when American and Russian security interests, as well as economic interests, were more closely aligned than ever. That's why Pres. Obama made it a priority to reset our relationship with Russia--and asked me to launch it just three weeks into the new administration at the Munich Security Conference. I said then that "the United States and Russia can disagree and still work together where our interests coincide. And they coincide in many places."
We focused the reset on concrete outcomes that serve both countries' interests--"win-wins," as President Obama calls them.
Certainly, some of these strong women found their models in the stories of the Old and New Testaments, but it's clear to me that all of them were answering to a higher power.
Also near-universal are the standard references to Hamas: a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel (or maybe all Jews). Hamas has called for a 2-state settlement in the terms of international consensus: publicly and repeatedly. Israel and the US object that the Hamas proposals do not go far enough. Perhaps so, but they surely go much farther toward the international consensus than the firm and unwavering US-Israeli rejectionist stance, reiterated obliquely by Obama in his State Department talk.
"Russia reveals itself to be highly critical of NATO expansion toward the east, and in particular toward the former Soviet republics that it considers to be its natural sphere of influence."
"Last year at its April summit in Bucharest, the alliance promised an eventual path to the admission of the Ukraine and Georgia supported by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush," the cable reminds us.
Can there be any doubt that NATO is a warlike and aggressive organization, one that threatens not only Russia but also other countries elsewhere in the world?
We haven’t been doing enough of that. We tend to be reactive. That’s what we’ve been doing over the last eight years. That’s part of what happened in Afghanistan, where we rushed into Iraq and Sen. McCain and President Bush suggested that it wasn’t that important to catch bin Laden right now and that we could muddle through, and that has cost us dearly.
We’ve got to be much more strategic if we’re going to be able to deal with all of the challenges that we face out there.
Regarding Russia: Energy is going to be key in dealing with Russia. If we can reduce our energy consumption, that reduces the amount of petro dollars that they have to make mischief around the world. That will strengthen us and weaken them when it comes to issues like Georgia.
McCAIN: We obviously would not wait for the United Nations Security Council. Both Russia and China would probably pose significant obstacles.
OBAMA: We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. It would be a game-changer in the region. Not only would it threaten Israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but it would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. And so it’s unacceptable. And I will do everything that’s required to prevent it. And we will never take military options off the table. And it is important that we don’t provide veto power to the UN or anyone else in acting in our interests. It is important, though, for us to use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the scenario where we’ve got to make those kinds of choices.
A: Our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because an aggressive Russia is a threat to the stability of the region. Their actions in Georgia were unacceptable. It is critical for the next president to follow through on our six-point cease-fire. It is important that we explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st-century superpower and act like a 20th-century dictatorship.
We also have to affirm the fledgling democracies in that region--the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Poles, the Czechs. They are members of NATO. To countries like Georgia & Ukraine, we have to say they are free to join NATO if they meet the requirements.
We also can’t return to a Cold War posture with respect to Russia. It’s important that we recognize there are going to be some areas of common interest. One is nuclear proliferation. This is an area where I’ve led in the Senate, working to deal with the proliferation of loose nuclear weapons.
"We'll start by seeking a global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons." Obama stated we would set a goal to expand the US-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so the agreement is global
Obama argued, "We'll be in a better position to lead the world in enforcing the rules of the road if we firmly abide by those rules." This is truly the crux of Obama's argument: because we do not demonstrate moral leadership, other nations have no choice but to proliferate nuclear weapons. At the base of the argument, Obama is saying a world with nuclear weapons is our fault. "It's time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse," he said. "It's time for America to lead."
A: It would be a mistake. Look, if we’re going to do something about nuclear proliferation--just to take one issue--we’ve got to have Russia involved. The amount of loose nuclear material that’s floating around in the former Soviet Union, the amount of technical know-how that is in countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain--without Russia’s cooperation, our efforts on that front will be greatly weakened.
A: In a situation like Darfur, I think that the world has a self-interest in ensuring that genocide is not taking place on our watch. Not only because of the moral and ethical implications, but also because chaos in Sudan ends up spilling over into Chad. It ends up spilling over into other parts of Africa, can end up being repositories of terrorist activity. Those are all things that we’ve got to pay attention to. And if we have enough nations that are willing--particularly African nations, and not just Western nations--that are willing to intercede in an effective, coherent way, then I think that we need to act.
On 2 February 1961 the pair slipped away to Maui and were married. The wedding--Obama, "black as pitch," Ann, "white as milk"--would have been illegal in 22 states. Ann dropped out of college. On 4 August Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born at the Kapi-olani Medical Center in Honolulu.
A: Clarity. Prevention, not preemption. An absolute repudiation of this president’s doctrine, which has only three legs in the stool: 1) don’t talk to anybody; 2) preemption; & 3) regime change. I would reject all three. We need a doctrine of prevention. The role of a great power is to prevent crises. And we don’t have to imagine any of the crises. You have Pakistan, Russia, China, Darfur.
A: The biggest threat to the US is, right now, North Korea. Iran not as big a threat, but a long-term threat. And quite frankly, the tendency of Putin to move in a totalitarian direction, which would unhinge all that’s going on positively in Europe.
I was astonished to discover wasteful spending in the Pentagon budget; I was even more astonished that hardly anyone was speaking out against it. The mantra in Washington at that time was to trim the fat from our social welfare and entitlement programs. But to take the welfare out of the Pentagon? Well, to do so as a cheap hawk Republican, who walked the political tightrope of being strong on defense and tight with a dollar. One of my congressional colleagues even called me a traitor to our country, that's how out there my position seemed to be among the hawks in the Republican Party, but my feeling was that we needed to ferret out this waste no matter where we found it.
Although a public poll said that 75% of the American people were opposed to giving Russia more money, and we were already in a hard fight for the economic plan, I felt we had no choice but to press ahead. American had spent trillions of dollars in defense to win the Cold War; we couldn't risk reversal over less that $2 billion and a bad poll. To the surprise of my staff, the congressional leaders, including the Republicans, agreed with me. At a meeting I convened to push the plan, Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, strongly endorsed the aid package. Newt Gingrich was passionately in favor of helping Russia, saying it was a "great defining moment" for American and we had to do the right thing.
Two dealmakers have served as president-one was Franklin Roosevelt, who got us through WWII, and the other was Richard Nixon, who forced the Russians to the bargaining table to achieve the first meaningful reductions in nuclear arms.
A dealmaker can keep many balls in the air, weigh the competing interests of other nations, and above all, constantly put America’s best interests first. The dealmaker knows when to be tough and when to back off. He knows when to bluff and he knows when to threaten, understanding that you threaten only when prepared to carry out the threat. The dealmaker is cunning, secretive, focused, and never settles for less than he wants. It’s been a long time since America had a president like that.
Few respect weakness. Ultimately we have to deal with hostile nations in the only language they know: unshrinking conviction and the military power to back it up if need be. There and in that order are America’s two greatest assets in foreign affairs.