First Confirmed Case Of Collusion Between Russians And Republicans
I have pointed out in previous posts that the Russians did more than hack our election to help Donald Trump. They hacked the election to help the Republican party, up and down the ballot. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were certainly well aware of Russia’s efforts at least to help Trump but were perfectly content to sit silently by and take advantage of those efforts.
Today, we have the first definitive example of the Russians colluding with a Republican operative in order to influence a specific election. And it was not the presidential election but a contested House seat in Florida. According to a report the Wall Street Journal, a Republican political operative in Florida, Aaron Nevins, sent a message to Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 requesting data on voter turnout and election strategy related to Florida elections hacked from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Committee. That request was honored and Nevins received 2.5 gigabytes of information from the Russian hacker that included details on not only congressional races in Florida but also in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Texas. Nevins then posted some of that data as well as his analysis of it on his pseudonymous blog.
Nevins described the data he received as “Basically if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed…This is probably worth millions of dollars.” He apparently shared this information with some other Florida journalists.
According to Anthony Bustamante, a campaign consultant for at that time Republican House aspirant Brian Mast, “I did adjust some voting targets based on some data I saw from the leaks”, changing the focus of his advertising and email strategy. That claim has been refuted by Mast’s office. But the fact is that Mast flipped a Democratic-held seat in November.
In addition, Russian hackers then forwarded Nevins’ blog post to Roger Stone, an adviser to the Trump campaign. Stone denies that he forwarded that information to anyone else. I don’t have the explicit denial from Stone, but the Journal’s report says that Stone “didn’t share any hacked material from it with anyone.” That does not rule out the possibility Stone passed on the link to the blog to other people.
It was already known that Russian hackers had posted hacked Democratic documents that targeted contested congressional races in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina. And we also know that Ryan and McConnell refused Democratic requests to not use this illegally obtained material in the election. We also know that certain Republican campaigns used the hacked data to help them in the election.
Today’s news, however, is the first time we have a direct confirmation of a Republican operative colluding with the Russians to actually receive information that was apparently used to defeat a Democratic congressional candidate. And Mr. Nevins perfectly sums up the current Republican party’s hostile attitude to democracy itself in its quest for power, saying, “If your interests align, never shut any doors in politics.” Treason is acceptable as long as Republicans win.