Fareed Zakaria interviewed longtime Putin spokesman Dimitri Peskov and the subject of Russia and the 2016 elections came up. Particularly the subject of the contacts between Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak — he’s the guy who shows up everywhere and yet no one remembers meeting him — and US presidential candidates.
Via The Hill:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said in an interview Sunday that the Russian ambassador who met with Trump campaign officials also met with “people working in think tanks advising Hillary or advising people working for Hillary.”
“Well, if you look at some people connected with Hillary Clinton during her campaign, you would probably see that he had lots of meetings of that kind,” Dmitry Peskov told CNN “GPS” host Fareed Zakaria. “There are lots of specialists in politology, people working in think tanks advising Hillary or advising people working for Hillary.”
Peskov said it is the job of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to meet with officials on both sides to talk about “bilateral relations.”
Peskov also defended those meetings, saying they were not an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election.
“But there were no meetings about elections — electoral process … So if you look at it with intention to demonize Russia, you would probably say that, yes, he was trying to interfere in Hillary’s activities. But it would be nonsense, because this is not true,” Peskov said.
I’m waiting for those Logan Act allegations to be leveled against Clinton advisers who met with Kislyak for meddling in foreign policy while private citizens, not really, because we all know the Logan Act allegations directed against Mike Flynn was simply leftwing agitprop that a lot of #NeverTrumpistos decided was convenient to grab onto.
I clipped a lot out of the interview but there is a couple of things apparent. First, Zakaria’s question was planned in advance. It sort of appears with only marginal context and if it hadn’t been asked the interview would be unchanged. I think Peskov is exactly right when he says that a lot of people, left and right, are beclowning themselves when they claim any nation can actively intervene in the process of US elections. Peskov is clearly concerned that Russia has overplayed its hand. It is pretty obvious that the Russians hadn’t intended upon the hijinks by the SVR/FSB subsidiary, WikiLeaks, getting the level of attention is is getting and they aren’t happy with it. They shouldn’t be. What WikiLeaks and the subsequent allegations have done is force Trump to take a much harder line against Moscow than he would have liked or, I fear, that commonsense dictates. Any concession on his part to Russia, no matter how small, will bring back to life story that Trump is beholden to Moscow. That is going to make Europe a much less safe place for the next four years.
We shouldn’t be shocked that a candidate for president has contacts with foreign diplomats. Indeed, we should be shocked and appalled if they do not. But we are that point of mindless irrationality in our political discourse where the national security adviser of an incoming president is criticized for talking to a foreign ambassador and a president is accused of misconduct because he fires guys hired by the last president. We are living in an age of rage not an age of reason.