Although President Donald Trump continues to go along with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that the Kremlin did not meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there are now leaders on both sides of the U.S./ Russia divide who no longer try and shy away from the fact that, yes, Russia meddled in our election.
On a Russian talk show known in English as “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov,” Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov said that “U.S. spies slept while Russia elected a U.S. president,” as journalist Julia Davis first revealed to the western world.
According to an alternate translation, Nikonov said that U.S. “intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.”
To be sure, University of Virginia professor Allen Lynch commented that, according to his understanding, Nikonov mentioned Russian meddling in the U.S. election as more of a hypothetical possibility than as a fact. The comments from the Russian Parliament member came as part of a broader conversation on the allegedly declining power of the United States.
As Lynch put it:
‘His point in making the remark was that if the U.S. can’t protect the integrity of its own electoral system, then how powerful can it really be?’
Even still, for Nikonov to find it nothing to quip as he did shows that the idea that Russia “stole” the U.S. presidency is, at the very least, not far fetched enough in his mind so as to keep it from being a topic of respectable conversation. Indeed, he might be privy to information which has yet to reach the U.S. investigative teams looking into Russia’s activities related to our electoral processes; who knows.
For now, Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller’s investigation of the alleged Russian meddling in our election is continuing. Some of the most striking recent developments include that Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and other members of the president’s inner circle met with a Kremlin connected lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya in 2016 for the express purpose of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
For the American government, the main question is no longer whether or not Russia worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election — we know that they did. The main question is now whether or not the beneficiary of Russia’s efforts — Donald Trump — helped the Kremlin along.
Check out Twitter’s thoughts about Nikonov’s comments below.
Featured Image via Alex Wong/ Getty Images