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Foreign Interference in US Elections and Politics

From watching House and Senate Hearings about how Russia allegedly

interfered with the 2016 election, a number of Congresspersons, TV news

presenters and talk show hosts have made claims that “US elections have

been historically interfered with.” Googling on this topic produces a number

of situations where indeed, foreign governments and even US elected

officials have tried to affect an outcome beneficial to the political needs of

these foreign governments and opposed to the desires of the American

people. The following is a short overview obtained from numerous on-line

sources of how foreign governments and individuals have tried to interfere

with our electoral system since the beginning of the Republic—

George Washington and Citizen Genet—1793

Back in 1793, one Edmond-Charles Genet was posted to the US as the

French Ambassador, with the mission of enlisting American support in

France’s War with Britain. President Washington wanted to keep the US

neutral in the conflict. Genet decided to illegally commission several

privateers to capture British shipping and raise a small militia to fight the

Spanish in Florida. He was also influential in creating a series of Democratic

Clubs—with the goal of effectively undermining Washington’s stance on

neutrality. In the end, Genet failed. Ironically, he pleaded with Washington

for asylum when he was recalled to France, fearing death if he returned.


British and German Interference in 1940 Election

The 1940 election involved more foreign intervention than any other, to

date. In the US, there was a strong anti-war sentiment. Roosevelt was

secretly tilting the country towards war, having set the ball in motion in

1939 by secretly authorizing the Manhattan Project, the B-29 Project, and

funding aircraft manufacturers to increase their production capabilities to

about 5,000 aircraft a month by 1942. Yet, he ran on an anti-war platform

in the 1940 in order to align his re-election message, for an unprecedented

third term, with the sentiments of the American people.

Domestically, a number of groups were mounting significant political

pressure to stay out of war. Among those were the America First

Committee, to some extent the German-American Bund, and thousands of

students from colleges who had adopted the so-called “Oxford Oath”—which

opposed fighting for “King and Country” at any cost.

The following is an extract from a recent Atlantic article discussing, in part,

the America First Committee—

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/trump-america-

first/514037/

The America First Committee (AFC), which was founded in 1940,

opposed any U.S. involvement in World War II, and was harshly
critical of the Roosevelt administration, which it accused of

pressing the U.S. toward war. At its peak, it had 800,000

members across the country, included socialists, conservatives,

and some of the most prominent Americans from some of the

most prominent families. There was future President Ford;

Sargent Shriver, who would go on to lead the Peace Corps; and

Potter Stewart, the future U.S. Supreme Court justice. It was

funded by the families who owned Sears-Roebuck and

the Chicago Tribune, but also counted among its ranks

prominent anti-Semites of the day.

And this from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_Committee

The America First Committee had its share of prominent

businessmen as well as the sympathies of political figures

including Democratic Senators Burton K. Wheeler of Montana

and David I. Walsh of Massachusetts, Republican Senator Gerald

P. Nye of North Dakota, and Socialist Party leader Norman

Thomas, with its most prominent spokesman being

aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Other celebrities supporting

America First were novelist Sinclair Lewis, poet E. E. Cummings,

Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth, film


producer Walt Disney, actress Lillian Gish and architect Frank

Lloyd Wright. The many student chapters included future

celebrities, such as the author Gore Vidal (as a student at Phillips

Exeter Academy), and the future President Gerald Ford, at Yale

Law School.

On June 20, 1941, Lindbergh spoke to 30,000 people in Los

Angeles billed as "Peace and Preparedness Mass Meeting,"

Lindbergh criticized those movements which he perceived were

leading America into the war. He proclaimed that the United

States was in a position that made it virtually impregnable, He

claimed that the interventionists and the British who called for

"the defense of England" really meant "the defeat of Germany."

Nothing did more to escalate the tensions than the speech

Lindbergh delivered to a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on September

11, 1941. In that speech he identified the forces pulling America

into the war as the British, the Roosevelt administration, and

American Jews. While he expressed sympathy for the plight of

the Jews in Germany, he argued that America's entry into the

war would serve them little better


Winston Churchill, realizing that Britain could not defeat Germany alone, and

aware of America’s non-interventionist views, dispatched his friend William

Stephenson, a Canadian businessman, to the US in 1940 to develop contacts

that would be helpful in influencing decision makers towards entering the

war. Stephenson quickly created a cover organization called the British

Security Coordination Office (BSC).

The activities of the BSC included generating news articles favorable to

Britain (some might call propaganda), dirty tricks, war photographs and

movies, and forgeries of German documents intended to inflame American

sentiments about its security. (Ian Fleming is supposed to have commented

that Stephenson was the man who inspired James Bond, according to a

Daily Mail article on a female spy Stephenson used throughout Europe and

the US.)

The following episode of the TV series “Secrets of War” contains a segment

on the BSC—

British Security Coordination/TI:16:00-32:00

goo.gl/Y3HTn8

In Germany, Adolph Hitler was not certain that Franklin Roosevelt would lose

the election of 1940. He hoped, however, that there were enough anti-war
and isolationist people in both the Republican and Democratic Parties that

providing covert funding to those people, which was not a crime at that

time, might allow them to advance their non-interventionist positions at the

both of the nominating conventions—helping to bind Roosevelt’s hands after

the election. It’s not clear if the German agents requesting such money

from Berlin actually got it, or if the politicians referenced in their cables were

as subject to the influence of the German agents as their cables claimed. In

the end, Roosevelt was elected handily and Hitler’s efforts to sway the

election and American politics came to no end on December 7th, 1941.

Richard Nixon and Vietnamese Peace Talks—1968

During the Paris Peace Talks in October 1968, Lyndon Johnson was ready to

cease bombing Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam. For this concession, the

Vietnamese were to halt the decades-long conflict which eventually killed an

estimated 58,000 Americans and 3.5 million Vietnamese civilians and

combatants.

The day before the 1968 presidential election, a close race between

Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republic Richard Nixon, South Vietnam’s

President Thieu walked away from the negotiating table for no particular

reason. It seems that Nixon had directed his campaign to interfere with the

peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, vice President Hubert

H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election.


Researchers have learned that members of Nixon’s campaign team met

secretly with Anna Chan Chennault, a wealthy supporter of Taiwanese

President Chiang Kai-shek, and confidante of South Vietnamese President

Nguyen Van Thieu, in order to convince him to not agree to peace at that

time. At Nixon’s behest, Chennault suggested to Thieu that Nixon would

secure a better deal for Thieu’s country than Hubert Humphrey would be

able to. Moreover, Nixon suggested that the Democrats were effectively

prepared to sell out Saigon in order to secure peace at any price. In the end,

Thieu did not enter the peace talks. Richard Nixon beat Herbert Humphrey

at the ballot box.

What Nixon and his campaign team did to win the 1968 election was

revealed from a collection of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, Nixon’s closest

aide, after his death.

Jimmy Carter and Iranian Hostages—1978

On November 4, 1979, roughly 3,000 Iranian university students stormed

the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 63 American diplomats and servicemen

hostage.

On April 24, 1980, President Jimmy Carter ordered the United States military

to attempt a rescue operation using warships—including


the USS Nimitz and USS Coral Sea—that were patrolling the waters near

Iran. The attempt, known as Operation Eagle Claw, failed, resulting in the

accidental deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian. As

the 1980 election cycle neared election day, the Americans were still being

held hostage in Tehran.

Ronald Reagan’s advisers were also well aware that negotiations between

Iran and the Carter Administration were nearing a successful resolution.

Reagan understood that Iran might hold the key to the election—so much so

that he deployed his running mate, George H. W. Bush, former President

Gerald Ford, and Henry Kissinger to decry foreign “manipulation” of an

American election.

It has been alleged that Reagan's campaign manager, William Casey, who

later became CIA director, colluded with persons close to the Ayatollah to

delay the release of the hostages—called an “October Surprise”. While there

is no compelling evidence to suggest this ever happened, Ronald Reagan did

defeat Jimmy Carter at the ballot box. On Jan 20th, 1981, on Inauguration

Day, after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President, the hostages were

released by the Iranian government.

Teddy Kennedy’s Russian Connection—1984


Massachusetts Senator Theodore Kennedy is supposed to have tried to

contact Yuri Andropov through his close school friend John Tunney in order

to ask Andropov for help challenging Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election. In

return, Kennedy offered helping Russia with Reagan. There is no evidence

that Andropov actually took Kennedy’s offer seriously. However, the alleged

affair offers insight into the mind of Kennedy, and his keen interest in the

Democrats’ winning the 1984 election—with the possibility that Kennedy

might become the Democrat Party candidate in 1988.

Bill Clinton and Chinagate—1996

The 1996 United States campaign finance controversy was an alleged

effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American

politics prior to and during the Clinton administration and also involved

the fund-raising practices of the administration itself.

The journalists wrote that intelligence information had shown the Chinese

embassy in Washington, D.C. was used for coordinating contributions to the

DNC in violation of United States law forbidding non-American citizens or

non-permanent residents from giving monetary donations to United States

politicians and political parties.

A Republican investigator of the controversy stated the Chinese plan

targeted both presidential and congressional United States elections, while

Democratic Senators said the evidence showed the Chinese targeted only
congressional elections. The government of the People's Republic of

China denied all accusations.

Obama’s Campaign Interference—2008

http://www.newsweek.com/russia-hacking-trump-clinton-607956

Russian hackers targeted the 2008 Barack Obama campaign and

U.S. government officials as far back as 2007 and have

continued to attack them since they left their government jobs,

according to a draft version of the report, authored by Area 1

Security, a Redwood City, California, company founded by

former National Security Agency veterans.

The targets included several of the 2008 Obama campaign field

managers, as well as the president’s closest White House aides

and senior officials in the Defense, State and Energy

Departments, the report says.

It names several officials by title, but not by name, including

“several officials involved in Russian policy, including a U.S.

ambassador to Russia.”

Obama’s Campaign Interference—2012

http://www.newsweek.com/2017/05/26/inside-putin-campaign-

destroy-us-democracy-610401.html
As Newsweek reported exclusively on May 12th, that same year,

Russia hacked the presidential campaign of then-candidate

Barack Obama—attacks that campaign officials were unaware of

at the time. Once Obama was elected, Russian hackers targeted

several top officials in his departments of state, energy and

defense

Donald Trump and Russiagate—2016

After more than a significant period of time investigating allegations of

Russian interference in our 2016 election, so far no specific evidence linking

Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, or his agents, has been identified by the FBI

or any other intelligence agency. Sadly, most of the “information” that we

have seems to come from primarily two people—one named “former official”

and the other “unnamed sources”.

President Barak Obama did sanction Russia over its alleged stealing Hillary

Clinton’s campaign manager’s emails, and releasing them to Wikipedia.

Obama declared thirty-five Russian diplomats as “persona non grata”—

forcing them to leave the country. Russia objected to Obama’s action, but

has not retaliated by forcing US diplomats out of Russian, to date.

Most of the agency heads refuse to answer many questions in open session

of Congress, as seen in the following clip from a House Hearing featuring

former CIA Director John Brennan—


Gowdy/Brennan Interaction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgjY_01FRgs

leaving the public with no real understanding what the status of any/all

investigations might be, or when these investigations might conclude

because of there being “no there there.”

We are hearing leaks about a “dossier” the FBI intended to purchase from a

former MI6 agent to use to justify its investigation of Trump. According to

The New York Times, in early October FBI agents met with Christopher

Steele, a former spy, to discuss the dossier. Steele was supposedly

compiling research on Trump’s and his ties to Russia. Steele was working for

Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm associated with an ally of Hillary

Clinton’s.

Supposedly, Steele and the FBI settled on a $50,000 payout if he could

corroborate information contained in his dossier. Steele was never paid,

according to the sources of the leaks reported by The Times.

Senators have quizzed FBI Director James Comey over whether the political

research firm behind the Trump dossier is part of Russia’s intelligence

apparatus. The connection between the firm, Fusion GPS, and a former

Russian counterintelligence agent named Rinat Akhmetshin is one of the

stranger wrinkles in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga


Fusion GPS was hired in June by an ally of Hillary Clinton’s to research

Trump’s ties to Russia. The firm, founded by a former reporter named Glenn

Simpson, hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on the

Republican candidate. Steele would go on to compile 17 memos full of

salacious and largely unfounded claims about Trump and several of his

campaign advisers.

With the ever-growing complexity of the investigation involving even

possible Russian disinformation confusing the situation—the Spy-vs-Spy

cartoons of Mad Magazine come to mind:

Source: Mad Magazine

Now with a Special Prosecutor on the case, who knows what will be revealed

in the course of time?

Conclusion
There are far too many details left out of this short paper to fully report on

the foreign interventions in our elections and politics; however, the sources

below are a good place to start learning more about these foreign

interferences in our past.

What is particularly bothersome is that this interference in our elections and

politics in the past was not visible to the public at the time the interference

was on-going. In the case of British intervention in the period leading up to

the 1940 election—the details of these activities were classified, or not

revealed, for about fifty years after the end of WWII. Given the stakes on

the table leading up to World War II, and the events that followed—it’s hard

to be upset about the British interference. But what if the situation were

reversed and the Germans had been able to convince US voters to not re-

elect Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie had become President and the non-

interventionists had prevailed in Congress until Britain fell under the boot of

the German Wehrmacht?

Fast forward several decades, into the digital age. Our current surveillance

technology gives government the ability to detect interference activities

much sooner than later. All of the media stories based on anonymous leaks

leave us wondering who is getting the raw data these days, and who has

access to it once it has undergone initial scrutiny and review? One would

think that the intelligence services would report these interferences to the

White House and President. This leaves us wondering if a highly politicized


White House might do nothing if the foreign interference were to be

benefitting its party’s candidate? One would hope that there would be full

integrity of the intelligence services to alert the Executive branch, but this

same possible politicization of the intelligence services could result in this

information not getting to the White House.

Looking at the details of these interferences, as we know them, elections can

be tilted by a small number of individuals with money and press connections.

These kinds of interferences easily can go on in any country that is

ostensibly “democratic”—without the public’s knowing about one, or more,

foreign intervention in an election, or politics, in general.

It will be interesting to see if all of the agencies release enough information

so that the public can understand what happened and “who done it?”

Lastly—a note on “Revisionism”: Hang onto your history books, but don’t

hang onto your beliefs that they are the absolute truth of what went on in

the past.

Example—A 1997 New York Times article on German intervention in the

1940 election claims that the British were not involved in the 1940 election

politics. Two years later, William Stephenson’s book Man Called Intrepid

about the BSC completely changed the history of that period, by revealing

the extent of British involvement in the 1940 election and American politics
concerning Britain. The history of the BSC’s activities was unknown for

almost fifty years.

Questions:

1) Should the government turn on NSA metadata collection (exposed by

Edward Snowden) to determine who in the government is talking to

the press?
2) Should the government use in-house telephone system logging

capabilities to track government employees calls to press?


3) Should the White House put a sizable bounty in place to convince

government employees to report people likely to be talking to the

press?
4) Can you recognize “fake news” when you see it?
5) Does the quantity of leaks make you think that the Security Agencies

have no control of classified information?


6) Has your impression of the FBI changed because of this so-called

investigation in Russia’s interference in our 2016 election?


7) Are you ready for the Russia investigations to be over?
8) Is the Main Stream Press acting responsibly in their reporting of this

matter?
9) Do you think that Congress’ investigations will yield any positive

results?
10) If the White House did not do anything about proven foreign

intervention, would you support leaks from the intelligence agencies?

Sources
Edward-Charles Genet:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmond-Charles_Gen%C3%AAt

How Hitler Tried to Influence Election of 1940:

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2015/12/how-

hitler-tried-to-influence-the-us-elections-of-1940.html

How the Nazis Tried to Steer US Politics:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/23/us/how-nazis-tried-to-steer-us-

politics.html

1940: FDR. Willkie, Lindberg, Hitler—the Election amid the Storm

Yale University Press, 2013

City College of New York Opposed to War (April, 1936):

http://digital-

archives.ccny.cuny.edu/thecampus/1936/APRIL_58_21/00000086.PDF

British Security Organization (BSC):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Security_Co-ordination

Cynthia—BSC Spy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Elizabeth_Thorpe
Femme fatale foiled Nazis:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3552906/Femme-fatale-foiled-

Nazis-hid-secrets-negligees-never-wore-knickers-seduced-countless-men-

help-Britain-win-war-new-book-tells-story-MI6-s-sexiest-spy.html

Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/sunday/nixons-vietnam-

treachery.html?_r=0

Nixon Interfered in 1968 Peace Talks:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/notes-indicate-nixon-

interfered-1968-peace-talks-180961627/

Iran Hostage Crisis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_hostage_crisis

October Surprise Conspiracy Theories:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Surprise_conspiracy_theory

Teddy Kennedy’s Soviet Gambit:

https://www.forbes.com/2009/08/27/ted-kennedy-soviet-union-ronald-

reagan-opinions-columnists-peter-robinson.html

Declassified Report Says Putin Ordered Election Hacking:


https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/intelligence-

chiefs-expected-in-new-york-to-brief-trump-on-russian-

hacking/2017/01/06/5f591416-d41a-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?

utm_term=.dd6f50c1b592

CNN: Comey Acted on Russian Intel He Knew Was Fake in Clinton

Email Probe:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/cnn-comey-knowingly-acted-fake-russian-

intelligence-clinton-email-probe?

utm_content=buffer004a0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&

utm_campaign=buffer

Russia Interference Explained:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446339/donald-trump-russia-and-

2016-election-controversy-explained

FBI/Steele Dossier:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-

deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.pfqkXVN6M#.slJz6YEN1

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984/Trump-Intelligence-

Allegations.pdf

Barak Obama Sanctions Russia:


https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/29/barack-obama-

sanctions-russia-election-hack

How Team Obama Tried to Hack the Election:

http://nypost.com/2017/05/26/how-team-obama-tried-to-hack-the-election/

How an Unverified Dossier Became a Problem for Donald Trump:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/us/politics/donald-trump-

russia-intelligence.html?_r=0

FBI Used Dossier Allegations to Bolster Trump-Russia Investigation:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/politics/fbi-dossier-carter-page-donald-

trump-russia-investigation/

Carter Page FBI Dossier Used for FISA Warrant:

http://www.businessinsider.com/carter-page-fbi-dossier-fisa-warrant-case-

2017-4

How Much FBI Planned to Pay for Trump Dossier:

http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/22/heres-how-much-the-fbi-planned-to-pay-

trump-dossier-author/

FBI Possessed Anti-Trump Dossier:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/25/fbi-possessed-

studied-anti-trump-dossier-says-form/
Comey Acted on Forged Russian Intelligence Document:

http://freebeacon.com/politics/report-comey-acted-on-false-russian-

intelligence/

Senators Ask Comey about Dossier:

http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/03/senators-ask-comey-is-trump-dossier-

firm-linked-to-russian-intelligence-video/

Foreign Agents:

https://www.opensecrets.org/fara

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