Donald Trump is killing the U.S. Postal Service because he and Vladimir Putin are set up to rig America’s voting machines. That’s where our election is most vulnerable; not from paper, mail-in ballots, which are by far the safest voting method we have.
They want you to fear the wrong things about the voting process. Don’t fall for this Trump-Putin disinformation campaign. But before you see the connection between Russia, the post office and a rigged election, you need to understand how Putin operates, and how he has used Trump.
Putin has silenced his critics, poisoned and gunned down his opponents. He is Russia’s president for life, a ruthless dictator doing
everything in his power to weaken us, not make America great again. Installing Donald Trump in the White House has been his greatest success.
I have to assume you’ve read at least some things that our president has done to advance Putin’s agenda. That includes everything from tearing down our European alliances, decimating and discrediting our intelligence agencies and the FBI’s counterintelligence service, destroying the credibility of our public health agencies—the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration—trashing our veterans and active duty military. The list is endless.
Donald Trump is not only carrying out Putin’s agenda. In fact, Putin is Trump’s role model, and most important, is his long-time business associate. Forget about Donald Trump’s campaign slogans; these are facts.
Consider this October 17, 2019 column in “The New York Times.” It was written by Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.
OUR REPUBLIC IS UNDER ATTACK FROM THE PRESIDENT
“These men and women (our troops), of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’
And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office—Republican, Democrat or independent—the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”
The President couldn’t stick a “radical socialist” label on the commander of the Navy SEALs. But here’s how Donnie “Bone Spurs”—who got his father’s podiatrist to give him a diagnosis of “bone spurs” to avoid military service—had the gall to respond: “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?”
As urgent as was his call to replace Trump, Admiral McRaven was being charitable when he wrote this almost a year ago. Knowing what we now know, McRaven would have used stronger language.
Neither the FBI nor the Navy SEALs are led by radical leftists. Surely you know that. From the beginning of his presidency, the FBI’s
counterintelligence agents have determined that Trump’s ties to Putin warranted—no, compelled—a full-blown national-security investigation. Most people assumed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had carried out such an investigation. As it turns out,
nobody had. Robert Mueller’s investigation was limited to criminal matters. It didn’t extend to counterintelligence investigations. It couldn’t have, not without an explicit request and approval from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which didn’t happen.
Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director, did initiate such an investigation. But Trump succeeded in having it shut down and McCabe fired, one day before that veteran federal lawman would have collected his full pension. Trump’s consiglieri William Barr even launched a bogus criminal investigation against McCabe but finally had to abandon it. In fact, every FBI counterintelligence official who had anything to do with Trump and Russia has been removed, along with inspectors general and high-ranking members of the intelligence community who shared the same offenses: They refused to soften their judgments that Putin was helping Trump. And they refused to pledge their personal loyalty to America’s would-be president-for-life.
When the acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the Trump white House that Michael Flynn, Trump’s newly minted national security advisor, had been compromised by the Russians, Trump held him in the position as long as he could, fired Yates, and asked Comey, the FBI director to let it go. Comey wouldn’t let it go. He wouldn’t pledge his personal loyalty. And he was fired. What
could possibly explain such behavior?
FOLLOWING THE MONEY: HOW TRUMP BECAME SO BEHOLDEN TO PUTIN
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have had deep financial ties for decades. And Putin has the goods on Trump.
As hard as it is to say and for some of his supporters to accept, the president of the United States has been a key part of Putin’s criminal enterprise for more than twenty years. That doesn’t mean they met or even spoke on the phone before the Trump presidency. It wasn’t necessary. Now they speak frequently, without American interpreters present, and with any notes shredded
afterwards. Trump wanted to meet Putin before he became president but as far as is known, Putin declined. He didn’t have to meet.
Trump was desperate for cash. Responsible lenders—all but the giant rogue Deutsche Bank —refused to extend him financing, which is the lifeblood of the real estate development business. Most observers think that not even Deutsche Bank would have extended credit to Trump were it not for a secret Russian guarantee. The bank, which notoriously financed the Nazis during World War II (Example: it was the chief financier for the construction of Auschwitz) remained true to its nature. It has played a key role in helping the Putin-controlled oligarchs and Russian mafia bosses convert their stolen rubles into dollars and euros in a scheme known as “mirror trades.” That’s one of the many well-documented crimes for which Deutsche Bank has paid billions of dollars in
fines and settlements. Just a cost of doing business.
The treasure Putin’s cronies steal from the Russian people is converted to dollars or euros held in the bank accounts of shell companies controlled by anonymous Russian owners. That money is finally invested into Trump-branded real estate. From there, it’s “clean” and can be used anywhere. These anonymous legal entities pay cash. Trump needed the financing and Putin needed the
laundromat. At different times before the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s clueless sons both bragged about the immense flood of money coming into the Trump organization from Russia.
(James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Company who consulted on the Panama Papers, estimated that some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has poured out of Russia alone since the 1990s.)
Those are facts. Not campaign slogans, not “hoaxes,” not “fake news.”
One of the dozens of such Trump-Russian money laundering operations is Sunny Isles, six high-rises just outside of Miami. Local
residents call it “Little Moscow.” Investigative reporters from Reuters discovered at least sixty-three buyers with Russian addresses or passports who spent $98 million on the south Florida properties. Another one-third of the units—more than seven hundred in
all—were bought by these shell companies whose owners were anonymous,
A “Miami Herald” investigation found that at least thirteen buyers in the Florida complex were the targets of government investigations, including “members of a Russian-American organized crime group.”
Two buyers in Sunny Isles, Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall, were part of the Russian group convicted in connection with a massive international gambling and money-laundering syndicate that was run out of Trump Tower in New York. The ring, according to the FBI, was operating under the protection of the Russian mafia.
Following his many bankruptcies, Trump-branded properties sprang up in Canada, the Philippines, Panama, Uruguay, Turkey, India, South Korea, and elsewhere. The residents weren’t all crooks. But every major crook, drug dealer, and even terrorist organization—especially the Russian ones—who needed their stolen money laundered knew where to bring it.
Here’s how Luke Harding, the award-winning “Guardian” foreign correspondent, describes Trump’s role:
“Trump was basically synonymous with money laundering. He was the guy that, if you’d stolen money in Moscow, you could dump a bag of cash on his table or go and see him and you could buy a condo. The Trump property empire from the sort of late 1980s onwards functioned as a really, as a laundromat for Russian cash, Soviet cash.”
Donald Trump is a career criminal. If he cannot hold onto power, or cut a deal for a pardon, he knows he will face criminal indictments and very likely prison for the rest of his life. He is a desperate man. He cannot afford to give up the presidency no matter what the Constitution provides or American voters decide. We are less than two months from ending our centuries-old democracy and living under a Putin-style dictatorship. I suppose anyone is free to cut off their noses to spite their own faces—but cutting off your kids’ noses is unforgivable. Or maybe with everything that’s happened, you’re still not convinced?
CLINGING TO POWER BY FOMENTING CONFLICT AND RIGGING THE ELECTION
So how is Trump trying to hold onto power? That’s obvious. Besides ginning up a race war in America, of course, he’s actively trying to interfere with a free and fair election.
The hundreds of thousands of needlessly dead Americans, the millions who are ill, the economic destruction, the chaos in every aspect of American life? None of this worries Trump nearly as much as its impact on the way people want to vote in 2020.
He’s trying to discredit the safest voting system of all, paper ballots. And he is trying to destroy the Postal Service’s ability to handle those ballots. And that’s because he and Putin have spent the past four years gearing up to rig the computerized voting machines that are the chief alternative to mail-in ballots.
“We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process . . . Since at least March 2020, Russian malign influence actors have been amplifying allegations of election integrity issues in new voting processes and vote-by-mail programs . . . .”
That’s not some Democratic “hoax” or some “fake news.” That’s directly from a September 3, 2020 report of the DHS’s Office of
Intelligence and Analysis. The Trump administration tried to suppress that unclassified report. It was leaked. Donald Trump has fired the intelligence analyst who refused to soften the DHS report and declined to manipulate the intelligence to emphasize bogus threats from other countries. Congressional hearings are scheduled for September. Whether administration witnesses will appear is doubtful. Whether those hearings will do any good even if they are held is equally doubtful. No, this is going to be up to all of us on November 3. (And ideally, before then, through early voting and mail-in voting.)
Beyond disinformation, direct Russian invasion of the election machinery itself is as clear as can be. Here’s an excerpt from a July
25, 2019 report by the Republican-controlled Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It’s just a few excerpts from a detailed sixty-seven-page document. Why not take the trouble to read it? After all, your family’s future is at stake.
“7. Russian activities demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities in U.S. voting infrastructure. In 2016, cybersecurity for electoral infrastructure at the state and local level was sorely lacking; for example, voter registration databases were not as secure as they could have been. Aging voting equipment, particularly voting machines that had no paper record of votes, were vulnerable to exploitation by a committed adversary. Despite the focus on this issue since 2016, some of these vulnerabilities remain.
“8. In the face of this threat and these security gaps, DHS has redoubled its efforts to build trust with states and deploy resources to assist in securing elections. Since 2016, DHS has made great strides in learning how election procedures vary across states and how federal entities can be of most help to states. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), and other groups have helped DHS in this effort. DHS’s work to bolster states’ cybersecurity has likely been effective, in particular for those states that have leveraged DHS’s cybersecurity assessments for election infrastructure, but much more needs to be done to coordinate state, local, and federal knowledge and efforts in order to harden states’ electoral infrastructure against foreign meddling.
“In June 2016, Illinois experienced the first known breach by Russian actors of state election infrastructure during the 2016 election. As of the end of 2018, the Russian cyber actors had successfully penetrated Illinois’s voter registration database, viewed multiple database tables, and accessed up to 200,000 voter registration records. The compromise resulted in the exfiltration of an unknown quantity of voter registration data. Russian cyber actors were in a position to delete or change
voter data, but the Committee is not aware of any evidence that they did so.
“Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machine Vulnerabilities
“While best practices dictate that electronic voting machines not be connected to the internet, some machines are internet-enabled. In addition, each machine has to be programmed before Election Day, a procedure often done either by connecting the machine to a local network to download software or by using removable media, such as a thumb drive. These functions are often carried out by local officials or contractors. If the computers responsible for writing and distributing the program are compromised, so too could all voting machines receiving a compromised update. Further, machines can be programmed to show one result to the voter while recording a different result in the tabulation. Without a paper backup, a “recount” would
use the same faulty software to re-tabulate the same results, because the primary records of the vote are stored in computer memory.”
So to recap the obvious: our intelligence services have told us that Putin is working to keep Trump in the White House. Just as he helped put him there in 2016.
Both Robert Mueller’s report and the indictments of twelve Russian agents confirmed that Russians also targeted private vendors that provided election software. The Russians successfully breached at least one company, its name redacted in the reports, “and installed malware on the company network,” according to the Mueller report.
PUTTING THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENCY AT PUTIN’S DISPOSAL
This time Putin has the help, not of a longshot candidate, but an incumbent president who has proven that he’s willing to do anything to stay in office. Whatever the polls say, it will take one hell of an effort to dislodge him.
The evidence is so overwhelming that I’m not going to bother citing it. But I will say that every Republican senator, every Republican
cabinet member—every one of them a millionaire—and every Trump appointee and donor is a damn traitor. Every one of them has stood down when faced with this assault on American democracy, not saying a word. Their kids and grandchildren will never forgive them.
Purging voter rolls, suppressing voter turnout, hacking and rigging computers, closing polling places in Democratic-leaning areas, blocking efforts to get dark money (read “foreign”) out of elections, and now blocking mail-in ballots, are too well-documented to spend much time debating. The fewer the voters, the better we like it has been a Republican article of faith for decades.
We can only hope that the vast majority of Americans care about this. If not, then Benjamin Franklin’s deepest concern has come to pass.
“This Constitution . . . can only end in despotism . . . when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”
We have to believe that we aren’t so corrupted; else why would we bother to do this outreach to Florida’s evangelicals and others?
Accepting the Kremlin’s help to gain the presidency is a felony. Publicly asking for that help and bringing people into the campaign to liaison with the Kremlin are the actions of a traitor. And those Republicans who stand down, hoping to benefit from Trump’s election, are no better. That’s how we think of Donald Trump and the gang of thieves he’s brought in with him. They have no bottom line, other than their own power and profit. We can only hope that most Americans do—no matter how much they may hate Hillary or Obama or liberals or coastal elites or whomever.
As for the Republican senators who were in office before Trump came to power? We’ve known for some time that most of them are as cynical as Trump and his inner circle. They’ll do just about anything to gain and hold
power. And yes, I can almost hear you saying, What about the Democrats?
ABOUT CORRUPTION IN BOTH PARTIES—AND WHAT’S DIFFERENT NOW
So before I tell you about an actual Republican rigging-the-voting-machine story, I’ll give you my answer to that unasked question. In New York, I’ve watched Democrat officeholders steal and go to jail. I’ve watched them take bundles of money from real estate lobbyists. I’ve seen them help landlords and developers kick tenants out of their apartments and not go to jail. One of those landlords that Democratic politicians helped even became president. I’ve watched them use their influence to get contracts out of
the state and city governments to run fleabag hotels for homeless people and charge the government rates that would make the owners of the Waldorf Astoria blush.
But right now Trump and Putin are burning down our house. It’s these Republican flunkies—millionaires with “Honorable” before their names—who are carrying the gasoline cans. We’ve got to get them out and many of them in jail where they belong. If not for our own sakes, then for our kids. And if we succeed, there will be time to deal with corrupt or self-dealing Democrats—and we’ll be
right there with you for that one.
So now for those who don’t think an election can be stolen by rigging the voting machinery, let me tell you a story you’ve probably never heard—or at least not the details where the devil always lurks.
SAXBY CHAMBLISS: THE RIGGED MACHINES AND THE STOLEN ELECTION
Saxby Chambliss was a Republican U.S. senator from Georgia from 2003 to 2015. He was elected—sort of—in part by running one of the more reprehensible campaigns in the modern era. Chambliss attacked his Democratic opponent, Sen. Max Cleland, as being
soft on keeping the country safe.
Cleland, a triple amputee, Vietnam War hero, a recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze Star, had voted against a homeland security bill. He did that because George W. Bush wanted to strip the collective bargaining rights from federal employees who were slated to become part of the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
Chambliss displayed Cleland’s photo in a political ad alongside those of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. He superimposed them. Chambliss wanted voters to think that Cleland’s vote against the anti-union provisions of the Homeland Security bill proved that he wasn’t committed to keeping the country safe. That was the disinformation piece.
Some of Chambliss’ Republican colleagues, among them John McCain and Chuck Hagel, condemned the ad. McCain called it “worse than disgraceful, it’s reprehensible.” Hagel threatened to run an ad denouncing Republicans if they didn’t pull it off the air. Eventually, the ad was pulled.
But the disinformation and the smear weren’t enough. Remember, this is a vote rigging story.
The final polls leading up to the vote had put Cleland ahead by five points. For the first time, Diebold touch screen voting machines were being used across Georgia.
Walden O’Dell, Diebold’s CEO, was a prominent Republican fundraiser. Before the Bush 2004 reelection campaign, in a fundraising
invitation for Bush, he wrote, ”I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” When questioned about the statement, he said he hadn’t meant to suggest that he would do anything untoward regarding his company’s machines. He was only talking about his personal efforts.
Diebold was a Republican-oriented operation from its inception, and its voting machines have always been suspect. Independent
researchers at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities had found the machines unreliable and “subject to abuse”—a euphemism meaning easy to rig.
The voting tallies were stored on unprotected memory cards. In a videotaped interview following the election, a Diebold contractor, Chris Hood, said Diebold’s president at the time, Bob Urosevich, showed up at the storage site for voting machines. Urosevich instructed Hood to install an uncertified “software patch” on the machines used in predominantly Democratic counties, allegedly to fix a problem with the clocks. Hood was instructed not to tell the state’s election officials about this. The installation of uncertified software and the secrecy surrounding it violated state law. And then, as it happened, the totals the machines reported had Chambliss winning by seven points. Compared to pre-election polls, that was a twelve-point swing in a single day.
Readers can see more of this story in two short video interviews.
Stephen Spoonamore, a cyber security expert and lifelong Republican, also believes that the 2002 Georgia Senate race was rigged.
“If you look at the case of Saxby Chambliss, that’s ridiculous. The man was not elected. He lost that election by five points. Max Cleland won. They flipped the votes, clear as day.”
Once in office, Saxby Chambliss spent a good deal of his time servicing defense contractors and agribusiness CEOs. They paid handsomely for his services.
The Max Cleland campaign would haunt an ordinary conscience into the grave. Chambliss left the senate in 2015, landed a plush lobbying job, and made more millions. Last time I looked, he was teaching a course in “Political Leadership and the Law” at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Bringing this up to date, let’s address the often-heard idea that, because our elections rely on so many machines in so many jurisdiction, manipulating the outcomes is impossible. You can look at this one-minute clip and you’ll be disabused of that notion.
If you want a fuller explanation from a leading expert, this is a fascinating interview with Jeff Moss, the founder of DEFCON and BLACKHAT, groups on the cutting edge of the hacking community. He understands exactly how capable Russian hackers are.
So let’s add it up in simple terms. Are electronic voting machines vulnerable to cheating and hacking? Check! Is secure mail-in paper-ballot voting under attack from Trump and his minions? Check! Is the Postal Service essential to allowing millions of Americans to vote safely? Check! And is Trump desperately trying to sabotage that very Postal Service? Check. Trump knows he can’t win a fair election, so he is doing everything he can to deprive citizens of their voting rights.
DON’T DELAY. PROTECT YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE, DO IT NOW, DO IT ON PAPER
What can you do about this? If you haven’t already, apply for a mail-in or “absentee” ballot. (Despite Trump’s lies, there is no difference.) Send it in as early as possible, and if your state provides a tracking system, follow its progress through the mails. Better yet, if your state allows this and you’re able: deliver your vote in person to your local election office or an early-voting site. Alternatively, vote early if at all possible to avoid the danger of being stuck in hours-long lines on election day. Any alternative that provides for a paper trail will be safer from meddling. You may not get another chance.