Clint Watts, Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, began raising alarms about Russian measures to influence the American public’s political views shortly after Trump’s press conference.
“Once you see both the campaign echoing the messages and themes that are coming out from RT and Sputnik News, when you see hacked materials of the DNC strategically linked and timed in terms of their release to influence the U.S. election in favor of Trump, then when you see Trump get onto stages or make prepared speeches where he refers to both Russia and Clinton’s emails, it seems very ominous, in terms of maybe there was some connection between the two,” said Watts. “At a minimum, they were at least looking or aware of those lines or influenced by Russian propaganda to be saying it almost near verbatim throughout those months.”
Whether Trump was a witting or unwitting beneficiary of Russia’s efforts hasn’t been proven, but as Watts sees it, Russia benefited from the way candidate Trump ran his campaign.
“The bottom line is Russian active measures were deployed to influence the U.S. election,” Watts said, referring to the effort to discredit the political system and turn voters against Clinton. “They worked in large part because one candidate used Russian active measures to his own benefit.”