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The Durham report on Russiagate

Travis Cunha

May 28, 2023

Former District Attorney for Washington D.C., John Durham, released the "Durham Report" on May 17. This report presents the findings of an investigation into alleged Russian interference in U.S. affairs. Since the 2016 United States presidential election, Russiagate has been a major topic of discussion in the mainstream media. With a substantial length exceeding three hundred pages, the Durham Report aims to dispel the assertions that former president Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to enhance his chances of winning the election. The Mueller Report, published in 2019, lent credence to the claims that Russia utilized social media accounts to impersonate U.S. citizens and defame Hillary Clinton, thus promoting their favored candidate, Donald Trump.

The reality is that the Russiagate narrative has proven to be advantageous for the U.S. government, as it aligns with their imperialist agenda of tarnishing Russia's reputation and fostering animosity towards Vladimir Putin among the American public. The involvement of Donald Trump, in the context of Russiagate, is of secondary importance to the broader objective of advancing the U.S.'s aggressive foreign policy stance towards Russia. By capitalizing on the divisive nature of Trump's presidency, the Russiagate hoax effectively ensured that it would remain in the headlines for an extended period. It is worth noting that similar accusations of collusion with Russia have emerged against members of the African People's Socialist Party, yet they have received minimal media coverage in comparison.

Both parties have engaged in fervent attacks on Russia for the claims they used Internet Research Agencies (IRA) to sway public discourse in favor of politicians friendly to the Kremlin. An excerpt from the Durham Report reads, “(The) investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Notice, while seemingly exonerating former president Trump, they are still insinuating meddling in internal affairs by Russia still happened by stating “election interference activities.”

Both political parties have launched vigorous criticisms against Russia, accusing them of utilizing the Internet Research Agencies (IRA) to manipulate public discourse in support of Kremlin-friendly politicians. A passage from the Durham Report states, "(The) investigation did not find evidence to establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." Notably, while the statement ostensibly absolves former president Trump, it still insinuates that Russia engaged in election interference activities and meddled in internal affairs.

The report continues, “Despite Moscow's denials, the direction and financial involvement of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, as well as his close ties to high-level Russian government officials including president Vladimir Putin, point to significant Kremlin support, authorization, and direction of the IRA' s operations and goals.”

They have yet to provide evidence which proves the Russian government funded these IRAs or any of the other claims from both the Mueller and Durham Reports, but the overwhelming coverage of the Russiagate hoax has successfully swayed the public in favor of taking any means necessary to bring down Russia, and especially Vladimir Putin. Many political analysts including John Mearsheimer have discussed how the United States and NATO have been planting the seeds for the Russia/Ukraine conflict to take place since 2008. With Russia being portrayed as an evil empire attempting to subvert our democratic institutions, giving aid to Ukraine was very popular among the public following the start of Russia’s Special Military Operation, and support has not changed much among both parties.

To date, no concrete evidence has been presented to substantiate the claims of Russian government funding for the Internet Research Agencies (IRAs) or other allegations outlined in both the Mueller and Durham Reports. However, the extensive coverage of the Russiagate narrative has effectively influenced public opinion, creating a favorable environment for taking any necessary measures to undermine Russia, particularly Vladimir Putin. Numerous political analysts, including John Mearsheimer, have discussed how the United States and NATO have been laying the groundwork for the Russia-Ukraine conflict since 2008. By portraying Russia as a malevolent empire seeking to undermine democratic institutions, providing assistance to Ukraine gained significant public support following the initiation of Russia's Special Military Operation. This support has remained relatively unchanged across both political parties.

In a peculiar twist of irony, the U.S. government has managed to convince a significant portion of the American public that Russia is primarily responsible for a crime in which the U.S. itself has a considerable share of blame. Surprisingly, even NPR acknowledges the long-standing history of U.S. interference in the internal politics of other nations, particularly in elections. In a 2016 article, NPR states, "The United States is the most frequent user of election influence, with our estimate being 36 cases between 1946 and 2000." While news outlets like NPR may acknowledge these facts about election interference, it is unlikely that mainstream media will ever admit any wrongdoing in their reporting on Russiagate. In fact, some media organizations have received prestigious though undeserved awards for their coverage of Russiagate. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for their extensive reporting on the subject. Not only are unverified claims of Russiagate disseminated widely, but they also receive one of the highest honors in the field of media and culture, further lending them credibility. In a more recent development, The New York Times and The Associated Press have received additional Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of the Ukraine conflict.

A particular quote from Vladimir Lenin remains relevant in today's context, particularly concerning the questionable independence of various news agencies. Lenin's words, from a 1915 essay titled Bourgeois Philanthropists and Revolutionary Social-Democracy, "The Economist, a journal that speaks for the British millionaires, is pursuing a very instructive line in relation to the war. Representatives of advanced capital in the oldest and richest capitalist country are shedding tears over the war and incessantly voicing a wish for peace," hold significance to this day. Just as in Lenin's era, the imperialist elite today manipulate the media to propagate their own narratives. However, instead of pretending to desire peace, they openly fan the flames of conflict, and insist that war must be fought “to the last Ukrainian.”

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