Out in Aspen, CO, yesterday, the beautiful and talented people were gathered to gently stroke one another during the Aspen Security Forum. One of the panels was this one:
Active Measures: The Kremlin Plan to Beat the West without Firing a Shot
President Trump maintains that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Was Vladimir Putin one of them? If so, beyond influencing the American election, is Russia working to undermine the entire Western liberal democratic order? If so, what can and should we do about it?
The panel members were:
Evelyn Farkas, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia
Julia Ioffe, Columnist, The Atlantic
Ned Price, Former Special Assistant for National Security to President Obama
Moderator: Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN
The panel is notable for a few things. First, three of the members were Obama administration officials. Two are identified and the moderator, Jim Sciutto was chief of staff to former Washington governor and Obama’s ambassador to China, Gary Locke. Sciutto and CNN don’t advertise this and Sciutto has scrubbed his State Department gig from his bio.
Julia Ioffe is more famous for this tweet than for anything she has written:
And we’ve encountered Ned Price not so long ago. Price was the Democrat operative who had burrowed into the CIA and left in a huff back in February which he announced with an op-ed in the Washington Post headlined I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit.
What we had was three Obama administration appointees and a rabid Trump hater talking about Russian meddling in 2016. So it was pretty much as unbiased and interesting as you can get out of DC these days. That makes this all the more amazing:
On October 7, Price noted when the United States government formally attributed the meddling in the election to the most senior levels of the Russian government, the Donald Trump “Access Hollywood” tape was released, and John Podesta’s emails started getting released.
“From October 7th to November 8th, there was a media frenzy on John Podesta’s emails focused on the substance and the content but not the origins,” Price remarked.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Evelyn Farkas interjected that on October 7th she had dinner with a member of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and all that person could talk about was the “Access Hollywood” tape.
“The Clinton campaign really emphasized not the October 7th statement but the Access Hollywood tape,” Farkas commented.
“It wasn’t just the statement… and this term is a loaded but the collusion on the part of certain elements in the media and Guccifer 2.0, the Russian cyber persona, who would send scoops to individual reporters and say, ‘hey you should take a look at this,’” Price responded. “And then lo and behold, major media outlets would write on the scoops provided by this Russian intelligence officer.”
CNN’s Sciutto took objection to Price’s accusation that the media colluded with Russia and asked Price to explain what he meant.
Price stood by his claim telling Sciutto to call it, “cooperation, collusion, whatever you want.”
Sciutto pointed out that collusion implies willing corporation.
“At a certain point, you had to have blinders and earmuffs on not to know that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence official,” Price responded.
The “Access Hollywood” tape he refers to is the “pu**y grabbing” tape. Price seems to be claiming that the media actually cared about John Podesta’s leaked emails. His second order claim is that to merely mention Podesta’s, and presumably the DNC’s, hacked emails means you are in bed with the Russians. This absurd. Hillary took a bigger lead over Trump after the DNC emails were released and the Podesta emails had no pro-Trump polling effect, to the contrary. In the week after the Podesta emails were released, Clinton gained 5 points.
But it shows what “collusion” really means. Nothing.