Will Trump raise this with Putin? Don’t bet on it

The Guardian - - WORLD - Luke Hard­ing

It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary split-screen mo­ment. On one side, Don­ald Trump was meet­ing the Queen. On the other, the US deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, Rod Rosen­stein, was si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­dict­ing 12 Rus­sian spies for hack­ing and leak­ing the emails of Democrats dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

The tim­ing of these lat­est in­dict­ments by the spe­cial prose­cu­tor, Robert Mueller, seems dis­tinctly mis­chievous. And they heap pres­sure on Trump be­fore his meet­ing on Mon­day in Helsinki with the Rus­sian pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin, the man to whom the GRU in­tel­li­gence agency and its gen­er­als ul­ti­mately an­swer.

For two years, Trump has equiv­o­cated in the face of a sim­ple ques­tion: did Moscow hack the US elec­tion to help him win and to dam­age Hil­lary Clin­ton?

But Mueller’s lat­est in­dict­ments lay out the facts in gran­u­lar de­tail. The doc­u­ment de­scribes how a group of ca­reer Rus­sian spies in Moscow sys­tem­at­i­cally hacked into the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. It was a text­book de­cep­tion op­er­a­tion, fea­tur­ing fake per­sons, hid­den cryp­tocur­rency pay­ments and easy-to-do spear phish­ing.

Dur­ing his meet­ing with Putin, Trump could de­mand the ex­tra­di­tion of the 12 GRU of­fi­cers. If Trump does not ask, he will be fail­ing to stand up for US in­ter­ests in the face of a cy­ber­at­tack by a for­eign power. If he does call for ex­tra­di­tion, it ac­knowl­edges that Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into col­lu­sion be­tween his cam­paign and Rus­sia is not a “witch-hunt”.

All the signs are that Trump will con­tinue to deny Moscow’s med­dling. Rosen­stein said yes­ter­day that he told the pres­i­dent sev­eral days ago of the lat­est in­dict­ment. Trump ap­pears to have ig­nored it. On Thurs­day, at the Nato sum­mit in Brus­sels, he flat­tered Putin again.

The in­dict­ment raises fur­ther in­trigu­ing ques­tions as to how the US dis­cov­ered the iden­ti­ties and pre­cise ranks of the 12 GRU of­fi­cers.

It seems likely that US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies car­ried out ex­ten­sive counter-hack­ing and in­ter­cept mea­sures of their own. And re­lied on in­put from Amer­ica’s Euro­pean al­lies in­clud­ing Bri­tain – the same al­lies that Trump den­i­grated on Thurs­day dur­ing his as­ton­ish­ing at­tack on Nato coun­tries for what he sees as mil­i­tary un­der­spend­ing.

Seem­ingly, the US in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity – reg­u­larly at­tacked by Trump as a malev­o­lent force – is good at its job.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.