Russian Ratf*cking: Why the Special Counsel Must Investigate Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders

 In the May 17, 2017 letter instituting the Special Counsel and appointing Robert Mueller in this position, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave Muller a mandate to investigate any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and "any matter that arose or may arise directly" from the investigation of that Russian interference into the US presidential elections in 2016.

One matter that should rise directly from the Trump-Russia investigation is the Russian manipulation of social media, news, and popular opinion. And as a matter of fact, the Special Counsel is already investigating this link, having asked and received detailed documents from Facebook on Russian ads purchases during the election under a search warrant.

It is now being reported that some of those ads, which are now on their way to Congress, specifically endorsed Green Party candidate Jill Stein, while others targeted the Left's resentment of Hillary Clinton. The 3,000 Russian-paid ads on Facebook perfectly align with Putin's mission: to sow discord and chaos into the 2016 presidential campaigns, and do as much damage as possible to Hillary Clinton. Stein, Sanders and Trump were all beneficiaries of that effort. According to Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner, these ads are only the tip of the iceberg in a coordinated, sophisticated Russian operation to use social media microtargeted by artificial intelligence to defeat Hillary Clinton.

I am sure completely coincidentally, just as Russia was manipulating ads and other traffic on social media against Hillary Clinton, Putin's puppets at Wikileaks concentrated on the same exact target.

Of course, being mere clawing, gasping-for-straws opponents to Hillary Clinton - whether by damaging her and then refusing to concede a primary campaign long after it was clear one could not win mathematically or by seeking to siphon away votes on the Left in the general election that would have been more than enough to deliver Clinton the White House - cannot subject one to a federal criminal investigation into the electoral malice committed by a foreign adversary, as despicably irresponsible as both moves were.

Being the direct beneficiaries of Russian ratf*cking, though, can reasonably raise questions whether Putin's patronage came at a price. Already, we know that Jill Stein was present and accounted for at the same table as Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin in an event honoring Russian propaganda network RT. We also know that RT lavished praise on and served as essentially a campaign mouthpiece for Jill Stein, and to a lesser degree, for Bernie Sanders in their zeal to take down Hillary Clinton. As if the dots weren't already connecting themselves, in the middle of that very campaign - about seven months after the propaganda dinner - Stein openly offered to step aside if Sanders would agree to take the top spot on the Green Party ticket.

Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee became interested in communications between Stein and Donald Trump Jr., the Trump spawn who met with a Russian lawyer salivating over promised Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. If the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into this, chances are Mueller is a few steps ahead already.

Bernie Sanders is hardly even one step removed from Stein, given the aforementioned political love affair and Trump's own crocodile tears for Bernie during the campaign. Bernie bears his own gifts for Putin, though, being one of a lone pair of Senators to have voted against sanctions on Russia. Sanders also hired as his chief strategist during the campaign Tad Devine, a close associate of Paul Manafort's. Among Manafort's numerous connections to the Kremlin is his work for corrupt and pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Victor Yanukovych in the immediate aftermath of Barack Obama's election to the US presidency. None other than one Tad Devine was Manafort's close confidant in that effort. Evidently the two pro-Kremlin American political consultants grew so close that Devine made direct contacts with Manafort during the 2016 campaign in an attempt to set up a Trump-Sanders debate. Yanukovych is currently exiled in Russia and wanted in Ukraine for high treason.

It is entirely possible that both Stein and Sanders received positive Russian press and in one way or another worked to benefit completely coincidentally. It's possible they were innocent bottomfeeders in Putin's scheme to damage Clinton and elect Trump. It's also possible that one - perhaps the one sitting at Putin's table - was in deep and the other was a bystander who benefited from the loot. It's possible that the role that Stein had to fill herself by literally cozying up to Putin was conveniently filled by a high level campaign official for Sanders, just as it was for Trump.

We won't know, until there's a full investigation into both their campaigns. We won't know, until Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein's campaigns are scrutinized in the way Trump's is.

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