Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Pot meet kettle: US-Russia election tampering nothing new

by Austin Cross and Alex Cohen | Take Two®

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ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO

The Kremlin called a report arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 U.S, presidential election "baseless" Monday. 

The release alleges that Russia hacked into Democrats' accounts and used paid internet trolls to swing the race in Donald Trump's favor. 

Many would argue that Russia was the primary actor and that they were way out of line, trying to mess with U.S. elections: but might this be a case of the pot calling the kettle black? 

That's what Robert English argues. He specializes in U.S.-Russia relations at the University of Southern California, where he is a professor of international relations. English tells Take Two that in 1996, the U.S. took steps to ensure that Boris Yeltsin won reelection. 

Robert English: The election involved ballot box stuffing, all kinds of chicanery... We not only supported Yeltsin diplomatically, rhetorically, and as powerfully as we could, but we engineered an international loan of $10 billion dollars which went directly into campaign slush funds and pork projects to help Yeltsin get re-elected.

[We] put our finger on the scales in multiple other ways which included sending campaign advisors and specialists in attack ads to help Yeltsin dominate his rivals. 

Some people might say that sending financial support and campaign advisors shouldn't necessarily be considered the equivalent to hacking into emails. What's your reaction? 

They are different kinds of pursuits, but the end result was the same: the interference of a foreign power that ought to remain impartial and not meddle in the politics of other countries. [With] our resources, and with our technical expertise were able to play a decisive role in supporting a corrupt Yeltsin regime and prolonging it in power for another term. Yes, it wasn't the same as hacking into emails, but we're comparing apples and oranges when the end result is they're both fruit...

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue media player above.

(Answers have been edited for clarity.)
 

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