Tags: Collusion | Trump | Russia | Campaign

Intel Expert: Potential of Collusion Exists Between Russia, Trump Campaign

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Friday, 31 Mar 2017 08:10 AM

There is a potential of collusion between elements of President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian intelligence services, and the president himself has helped Russian efforts succeed by repeating fake news and conspiracy theories, former FBI agent Clint Watts claimed Friday morning.

"There's two ways to look at how Russian active measures get propelled amongst the Trump campaign," Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

"Is it coordination and synchronization? At times we saw people on Twitter say, 'I've talked too Guccifer, I've talked to WikiLeaks. To me, that's collusion."

"The other part is opportunism," Watts continued. "Why would you look at Russian propaganda to go against your American opponent? That's crazy, especially coming from a Republican candidate. Looking back to the Reagan era, this was the party that was tough on the Soviet Union, tough on Russia.

"Now we have a candidate, now president, citing Russian propaganda to go after his opponents. Either case is scary, I think collusion is the worse case, obviously."

Watts' appearance came a day after he testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee concerning Russian interference into the election. In his comments to the committee, Watts testified that several of President Donald Trump's actions, including tweeting about conspiracy theories, are helping Russia's propaganda campaign to succeed.

"Part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the commander in chief has used Russian active measure at times against his opponents," Watts said on Thursday, directly mentioning the president's birther claims about President Barack Obama, and his complaints about voter fraud and a rigged election.

Watts also testified that fake accounts linked with Russia have tweeted conspiracy theories to Trump, in hopes that he would repeat them.

On Friday, Watts said Russia used the same measures to interfere with the 2016 presidential election that it uses on its own populace, and the mode of attack is still working to interfere with the United States government.

"That's exactly the point of Russian active measures," Watts said. "It's to sow confusion inside your enemy so they're fighting amongst themselves, that you can maneuver on them. They've done it so well, that we're doing it three or four months later."

"It's a system they use on their own populace, to sow information so their own populace is confused," Watts also said. "It's very essential to do and we're doing their work for them. We're talking about it today, Intel committee hearings, the president versus Congress, versus the intel committee."

The Obama administration also experienced a "big miss" by not understanding the threat of how hacking would drive influence in the election.

"They didn't understand the purpose of the hacking was to influence the campaign," said Watts.

"I think that's the first time they've ever seen it. There's a disjointed nature in our government, between the FBI's investigation and what the implications would be from an intelligence standpoint. I think now they understand it. When it happened back July, August of last year, they didn't know how to react and, therefore, were slow and didn't do anything."

Also, Watts said the government has been so focused on terrorism, it did not consider why hacking was occurring.

"We thought it was compromised information to steal bank account information," said Watts. "Nobody was focused on why they would want this."

There are still "very small fringe outlets pushing conspiracies" at Trump, said Watts.

"It's not just the Russians, others trying to influence it as well," said Watts. "They know they can get into his decision cycle with any conspiracy he'll bite on. If they put out a conspiracy very personal to his ego, such as the Trump Tower wiretapping claim, you have the potential he'll fall for a conspiracy. We've seen it happen before."

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Politics
There is a potential of collusion between elements of President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian intelligence services, and the president himself has helped Russian efforts succeed by repeating fake news and conspiracy theories, former FBI agent Clint Watts claimed...
Collusion, Trump, Russia, Campaign
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2017-10-31
Friday, 31 Mar 2017 08:10 AM
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