Russia is still hack­ing our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem Ed­i­tor’s note: This is Donna Brazile’s fi­nal col­umn for UFS/An­drews McMeel Syn­di­ca­tion.

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - Donna Brazile Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor

“They’ll be back,” said FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey to the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee about Rus­sian hack­ing. “They’ll be back in 2020. They may be back in 2018.”

Dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, I was the in­terim head of the Demo­cratic Party. Based on the in­tel­li­gence brief­ings and the things I ex­pe­ri­enced at that time, I be­lieve Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in Amer­i­can politics hasn’t gone away. It’s still with us.

Most cer­tainly, Russia will be just as ac­tive in our 2018 midterm elec­tions and the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as they were in the Clin­ton-Trump con­test. I want to point out to you, dear reader, the in­di­ca­tions of what is to come.

To fully un­der­stand how it came about that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin di­rected hack­ing and en­gaged in al­leged col­lu­sion with cam­paign officials, let me share how this bub­bling caul­dron of Rus­sian un­der­cover cy­ber politics got its start in Europe.

There -- among Europe’s Western democ­ra­cies -- three world­wide events dove­tailed into pop­u­lar dis­con­tent: 1. waves of refugees flee­ing un­sta­ble gov­ern­ments, ter­ror­ism, and war; 2. glob­al­iza­tion of the econ­omy via free trade; and 3. ris­ing in­come in­equal­ity.

It isn’t only in Amer­ica that govern­ment poli­cies fa­vor the priv­i­leged few; it’s a world­wide prob­lem. The num­bers of cit­i­zens in the mid­dle class have shrunk, and stag­nant wages plus di­min­ish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties en­velop mil­lions across the globe. Estab­lish­ment gov­ern­ments and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers failed to re­spond to pop­u­lar de­mands for liv­ing wages and op­por­tu­ni­ties for every­one.

Free trade, meant to lift all boats with a ris­ing eco­nomic global econ­omy, also re­sulted in cit­i­zens los­ing jobs to inexpensive for­eign la­bor mar­kets. Then came the mil­lions of flee­ing refugees with for­eign cul­tures and faiths -- con­ve­nient scape­goats for all that was wrong.

Ex­trem­ist po­lit­i­cal par­ties have grown through­out Europe. Their right-wing mes­sage, spread­ing across bor­ders, makes a pow­er­ful ap­peal to na­tion­al­ism with its re­jec­tion of im­mi­grants, eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion and multi­na­tional al­liances like NATO and the Euro­pean Union

Europe’s ex­trem­ist par­ties and Russia do share com­mon goals: 1. to weaken NATO; 2. to dis­solve the Euro­pean Union; 3. to sup­port Russia’s in­va­sion of Ukraine; and 4. to op­pose the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic estab­lish­ment in Western na­tions.

So it was that Russia en­tered with monies to fund cam­paigns and to wage a so­phis­ti­cated cy­ber­war­fare in­side other coun­tries.

A study by the Euro­pean Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions says that while these par­ties “are not un­der Moscow’s con­trol,” they are Putin’s friends. France pro­vides the clear­est doc­u­mented ex­am­ple. Its Na­tional Front an­ti­im­mi­grant pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Marine Le Pen, is cur­rently tied in the polls with France’s cen­trist can­di­date.

For years, Le Pen has made gains by be­ing stri­dently an­tiIs­lamic: “Im­mi­grants are illegal (and) must be sent back to their home­land,” she said, a po­si­tion Trump echoed al­most word-for-word.

Le Pen called for France to leave NATO “with­out de­lay,” while Trump said NATO is “ob­so­lete.” Le Pen has worked to dis­solve the Euro­pean Union, while Trump praised Bri­tain’s vote to with­draw from the EU.

There’s more, but you get my drift. In 2015, Trump adopted a po­lit­i­cal plat­form that was forged and used by Europe’s far-right par­ties long be­fore he threw his hat in the ring.

In 2016, Le Pen re­port­edly re­quested a $30 mil­lion loan “from a bank close to Putin” to fund her cur­rent cam­paign for the French pres­i­dency. While this isn’t col­lu­sion, pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged Russia-

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