Trusted Hillary Clinton adviser ripped the Democratic presidential nominee after seeing transcripts of post-State Department speeches Clinton gave and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There was a ton of foreign policy stuff, including some naïve sounding comments about Putin – that could cause a whole separate set of issues – but [aide] Jake [Sullivan] should review all that.”
Clinton has been particularly critical throughout the general election of Trump’s praise of Putin and views on Russia. But the Goldman Sachs speeches show that Clinton could also be cordial with the former KGB operative.
“I would love it if we could continue to build a more positive relationship with Russia,” Clinton said during a June 4, 2013 speech at Goldman Sachs’ IBD Ceo Annual Conference.
During the same speech she said: “We would very much like to have a positive relationship with Russia and we would like to see Putin be less defensive toward a relationship with the United States so that we could work together on some issues.”
Another View from Liberal the Media, Bloomberg
When Vladimir Putin praised Donald Trump as “talented’’ and the “absolute leader’’ in the U.S. presidential race back in December, the embrace seemed more mischievous than malign.
But now, with Election Day in just two weeks, the Kremlin’s role has become one of the dominant topics in the campaign. From the debate last week when Hillary Clinton and Trump traded barbs on which was Putin’s “puppet’’ to U.S. charges that Kremlin leaders were behind the hacking that has dogged the Clinton campaign — a conclusion Trump has refused to accept — Russia has transfixed the campaign in a way no foreign government has in decades.
Not since the Red Scare of the 1950s has Russia been accused of such sweeping influence on U.S. politics. The presidential headliners aside, cyber-attacks on election boards in several states have spawned fears the results could be tampered with. Sowing doubt about the integrity of democracy has found a fertile audience among voters increasingly suspicious of established political parties and ideas like free trade and immigration that had long been beyond question.
“This seems to be unprecedented both for the dramatic difference in the candidates’ approach to Russia and Russia’s insertion into our electoral process,’’ said Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former official in the State Department bureau of political-military affairs.
The alleged hacking has added to the vitriol in a U.S.-Russia relationship that’s already at its lowest point since the Cold War amid differences over the civil war in Syria, Kremlin intervention in Ukraine and western sanctions on Russia.
For Putin, once dismissed by the White House as a “regional’’ player, the long shadow he has cast over the elections is a triumph, even as the Kremlin denies any role. After years of accusing the U.S. and its allies of undermining his political system — backing critics, opponents and election observers who cast doubt on the legitimacy of Russian votes — Putin has turned the tables.
“Anything that undermines our reputation as a leading democratic power works to their advantage,’’ said Thomas Graham, managing director at Kissinger Associates and a former senior White House aide on Russia.
Putin has been honing his tools for years in the U.S. and Europe, from Kremlin-funded TV networks and friendly political parties to hacker groups. In Germany, which holds national elections next year, officials have
accused the Kremlin of trying to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Ultimately, Putin’s role as the bogeyman of the U.S. campaign could backfire. The prospect of a victory for Clinton, who has called him a “bully’’ and vowed to take a harder line against Russia, could bring new tensions the Kremlin isn’t likely to welcome. While the rhetorical battling helps boost Putin’s domestic support, the risk of tougher economic sanctions or other U.S. retaliation could derail Kremlin efforts to stabilize the battered economy.
The Page speech came as the hacking was just beginning to come out. The first reports of the breach of Democratic National Committee servers by hackers allegedly linked to Russia came in June. A month later, the first wave of revelations cost the party chief her job.
The flow of leaks has continued through the summer and into the fall, keeping the Clinton campaign on the defensive.
Putin, who had accused the U.S. of being behind the leaks in the spring of offshore financial information that exposed the wealth of some of his closest allies, seemed to revel in the attention.
“It’s not that he has some diabolical strategy for how to undermine everything,’’ said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads a Kremlin foreign-policy advisory panel.
“He’s known for never missing an opening when he senses one,’’ he added. “He’s enjoying playing at this.’’
In an interview with Bloomberg in September, Putin said the U.S. was wrong to focus on the source of the breaches. “Does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ he said. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’ He criticized both campaigns, saying, “I don’t think they are setting the best example.”
In October, the same day a massive dump of e-mails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta appeared on WikiLeaks, the U.S. director of national intelligence took the unprecedented step of publicly charging that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.’’ The hacking was “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.’’
With the U.S. now threatening unspecified retaliation, Putin could be at risk of overplaying his hand, alienating the incoming administration.
But with ties strained, the Kremlin may reckon it has little to lose. Relations with Clinton have been frosty since at least 2011, when Putin accused the then-secretary of state of encouraging protesters to take to the streets in opposition to his rule.
“Putin is absolutely convinced that as long as he is president, the West has no intention of improving relations with Russia and that the West’s goal is his overthrow,’’ said Solovei.
Keeping the Kremlin at the center of a chaotic U.S. campaign is a big propaganda win for the Kremlin.
“Putin and Russia have become practically the central themes of the American elections,’’ said Alexei Chesnakov, a former Kremlin political staffer. “That of course is beneficial, since it underlines the status of the country and its leader.’’