NEW YORK – I hate agreeing with Vladimir Putin, even a little. Russia’s president is dragging his country – the country of my birth – backwards, and falsely argues that violating international law is somehow good for Russians. But the hysterical response of Americans to the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the US presidential election has forced me to look at things from Putin’s perspective.
To be sure, the US intelligence agencies’ allegations that Russia purveyed fake news and released hacked emails, in order to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances against Donald Trump, are not baseless. It is certainly in Putin’s character to purloin secrets and create disinformation; he was a KGB operative, after all.
Likewise, the accusations that Putin is holding a dossier of compromising material on Trump, though uncorroborated, also ring true. It would make little sense for Russia to spare Trump, of all people, from its schemes. And, beyond Trump, Republican Party leaders must know that if Russia hacked the Democrats, their own servers must have been hacked, too.
Even if the alleged dossier’s sensational details are not accurate, chances are that Russia is holding at least some compromising business records, or even Trump’s tax returns – information that Trump has worked very hard to keep hidden from the American public. If Trump doesn’t play nice, taking Russia’s side on issues ranging from NATO to Ukraine, he will likely see his secrets laid bare, just as Clinton’s were.