New York, December 31: Retired US Army General Barry McCaffrey has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "actively hoping" that former President Donald Trump wins the 2024 Presidential election as Putin felt "Trump's persecution was politically motivated reflecting the rottenness of the American political system". Trump, the frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, has long been praised by Putin (even suspected of trying to interfere in the 2016 campaign to influence voters) and the former President has often quoted the Russian leader on the campaign trail.
The Russian President himself faces the electorate in his country facing a crisis of confidence fighting "ill health" besides the army's resistance to prolong the war with Ukraine. Putin is rumoured in the Kremlin to be suffering from cancer and that he is operating incognito from a far-off mansion in the outskirts of Moscow and some say he is in Georgia. At a rally in Durham, New Hampshire, earlier this month, former President Trump quoted Putin, who reportedly criticised the numerous criminal charges that Trump is currently facing, denied by the former President and pleaded not guilty to. Donald Trump Denies ‘Bullying’ His Way Into Home Alone 2; Former US President Claims His Cameo Turned Film Into Success
"Even Vladimir Putin... says that Biden's, and this is a quote, politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy," Trump quotes Putin. Putin made the comment during an Economic Forum in eastern Russia as late as September this year. Putin did not name Biden in the original quote which was added by Trump, Newsweek reported in its latest issue, putting Trump on the cover with the caption "Trump, the year that was".
Meanwhile, the relationship between Trump and Putin has been criticised since the former President's 2016 run when questions of Russia's alleged election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign arose, media reports said. "I have never understood this whole relationship between Trump and Putin. Putin is a thug, a murderer; he's gotten the Russian Federation into terrible trouble economically, politically. He stamped out free speech. So, why Trump seems to be in league with this desperado is hard to understand," McCaffrey said, during his interview appearance on MSNBC.
"Yes, Putin and for that matter other criminal enterprises like the North Koreans are actively hoping to have Trump back in office, where in my personal opinion, he would be devastatingly bad for US national security," the retired General said. Some media reports suggested that arch foes of US such as China, Iran, North Korea and Russia were in cahoots to disrupt or influence the 2024 elections using social media to spread false information or propaganda against the Biden administration and eulogise Trump. Russia-Ukraine War: Russian President Vladimir Putin Quietly Seeks Ceasefire With Ukraine, Says Report
McCaffrey, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was in the US Army for 32 years and later served as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bill Clinton. Newsweek reached out to McCaffrey via 'X' direct message, Trump's campaign via email and the Russian government via online form. Following Trump's 2016 win against his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, the Department of Justice (DOJ) probed possible Russian interference. Special counsel Robert Mueller led the investigation and in March 2019, his findings were made public in what is infamously known as the Mueller report.
"Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," the report said. Russia has denied allegations of election inference and Trump has called the Mueller report a "complete and total exoneration".
On the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, the report said, "The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests." "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," according to the report. In March 2021, a declassified US intelligence report alleged Russia also tried to help Trump in the 2020 election, but found no evidence of foreign voter fraud.
Putin authorised "influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating socio-political divisions in the US," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report said. The Kremlin denied allegations that it interfered in the 2020 election, which Trump ultimately lost to Biden. The former President also denied being "given help from any country" in the election.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 31, 2023 08:20 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).