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‘If Clinton Is Elected, Vladimir Putin Will Have The Capacity To Blackmail Her At Will’

REUTERS/Mikhail Metzel/Pool.

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

Experts are lining up to imply that Russia likely hacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Such a hack, they imply, may give Russian President Vladimir Putin key leverage, essentially to hold her as a digital hostage at any time if she becomes president.

Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, recently told The Daily Caller News Foundation he would lose respect for China and Russia, if they had not hacked Clinton’s private email server while she was U.S. Secretary of State. FBI Director Comey told reporters he was unable to confirm Russian penetration of Clinton’s email server, but noted it was more likely than not.

Then L. Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal and an adviser to technology and media companies, laid the whole hacking ordeal out in stark terms for Clinton in a Tuesday column for the WSJ (emphasis ours):

The timeline suggests after Russia hacked Mrs. Clinton’s emails, its spies decided to complete their knowledge of Mrs. Clinton’s relationships by hacking the Clinton Foundation, State Department and Democratic National Committee. Unless a friendly spy agency that hacked Mrs. Clinton’s emails does Americans a favor by publishing them before the election, if she is elected Vladimir Putin will have the capacity to blackmail her at will.

Wikileaks released a trove of 20,000 DNC emails three days before the DNC’s week-long nomination party for Hillary Clinton, raising questions as to whether Russia is actively intervening in the U.S. election to undermine the Democratic candidate. Russia’s likely Democratic National Committee email hack and subsequent Wikileaks release employs the same information operation strategy it has used to interfere in European elections for years.

U.S. intelligence officials generally consider Wikileaks, the source of the leak, to be an intelligence arm of the Kremlin. Russia’s connection with Wikileaks, may preview a future method of blackmail Putin intends to deploy if Clinton becomes President. By releasing Clinton’s emails to Wikileaks, Putin can conceal his direct role in hacking the private email server and still embarrass Clinton.

Joshua Foust, a National Security Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, noted as early as early as 2013 in War is Boring, that Wikileaks had quite stark connections to Russia’s intelligence agency. Wikileaks head, Julian Assange, is a paid contributor to RT, a well known Kremlin backed propaganda outlet. “That Assange and Wikileaks are surrogates for Putin is now obvious,” John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and national security expert, noted in The New York Observer.

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