Agents of the Russian Federation did not act on behalf of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in any official or unofficial capacity in 2016, and no matter how much corporate media bloviates to the contrary, there is no evidence of such interference. If there were, the drumbeat of hyperbolic rants about it would be all across conservative talk radio and Sean Hannity would be printing “Kremlin Colonel Sanders” t-shirts.
Fast forward to four years later and what are we to believe is the new evidence of “Russian interference” on Bernie’s behalf, apart from briefings given by intelligence officials supposedly presented to the House Intelligence Committee but disputed by National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and GOP members of the committee? As the Vermont senator’s fortunes appeared to be rising, suddenly rumors of Boris and Natasha meddling in the election conveniently cropped up in front of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) committee.
Isn’t it funny how it all just seems to happen as if on a seasonal schedule?
Not to be outdone, when asked about aberrant behavior by his own and actual supporters online and elsewhere towards supporters of rival campaigns, Bernie Sanders was not beneath invoking the wild card of “Russian shenanigans” rather than admit that some of his supporters might be violent.
Thanks to his extraordinary lack of a spine, Sanders is likely to allow these slanderous allegations to proceed, and not for the first time. For someone polling so high with Latinos, Bernie should at some point dig down and find the cojones and demand from the media and intelligence agencies tangible proof of these allegations. While he does that, he should also demand to know whether anything that Vladimir Putin is doing to “influence” the election approaches even a shadow of what Michael Bloomberg is trying to do with his $500 million in campaign spending (so far).
Fighting fire with gasoline
Instead of confronting the press and demanding that it substantiate its allegations, Sanders has fed the bears. Recently in Nevada, when asked about harassment by his supporters of rival Pete Buttigieg’s supporters, Bernie deflected, saying “. . . not being too paranoid, all of us remember 2016 and what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our election and divide us up. I’m not saying that’s happening.”
But if he’s not saying that, then why bring it up? By invoking Russia, Bernie Sanders is attempting to prop up what he knows is a major vulnerability of his campaign which is the violent and totalitarian tendencies of some of his supporters.
In January, when staffers in Iowa and South Carolina were exposed on video to be open Marxist-Leninists who believe in revolution by force if not by the ballot and reeducation camps, Sanders’s campaign did not fire the people in question but merely had them protect their social media accounts—even in the case of one who had been arrested on a DUI. One possible reason that the campaign has turned a blind eye to these people is that at this stage of the primary campaign it is too difficult to hire dedicated personnel with the willingness to work in those specific states. Another possible reason could be that a series of embarrassing firings would alienate his core constituency: young radical socialists.
Moreover, there is a distinction to be made between episodes of so-called harassment such as online namecalling and taunting (which is an intrinsic part of modern social media) and actual violent incidents such as the assault committed by one Bernie supporter in recent weeks against a man in a Black Guns Matter t-shirt at one of his events.
Whatever the reason, Sanders is shielding offending supporters and staff by being less than honest, which is part of a shameful pattern of behavior.
When his 2016 campaign was accused in 2018 by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of having been aided and abetted by Russia, Sanders did not voice a clear objection. Instead, he claimed a campaign worker had alerted authorities at the time. Were he to have done only a cursory investigation, Sanders would have discovered—as I did in a National File story published last month—that the person in question had not been affiliated with his campaign but was a hoax journalist attempting to capitalize on the “Russian collusion” hysteria of the early months of the Trump Administration.
The people that the fraudulent tipster John Mattes implicated were real, innocent Bernie supporters and their personal reputations were ruined by these allegations that were featured by mainstream media outlets like Huffington Post, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and Ari Melber. How could a candidate like Sanders, who is so obsessed with “fairness,” think it is fair to tar supporters with the same brush that is now used to whitewash other more slippery supporters who are actually a problem?
The answer is difficult to know but is most likely very simple. While deluded celebrities like Joe Rogan admire Bernie for his supposed consistency, the truth is that most politicians (and even most human beings) are more than willing to bargain their principles in the interest of self-preservation.
In his heart, Sanders knows that notwithstanding obvious differences and the threats that Russia poses, the United States cannot afford not to have a functional and cordial bilateral relationship with it. But once the same DNC that bamboozled him in 2016 decided to scapegoat Moscow for their abysmal loss that year, Bernie Sanders decided to cling to its sinking ship rather than jump into the life raft of his own self-declared “independence.”
While publicly condemning the unfair treatment of the DNC, he collaborates with the party establishment on deceiving the public concerning Russia. Here is a quick list of similar betrayals:
- In July 2018, following President Trump’s controversial conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Senate Democrats introduced a resolution to “Protest American Democracy from Russian Interference.” The senator chosen to deliver the remarks in favor of the bill on the floor was . . . Bernie Sanders.
- In April 2019, after the release of the Mueller report, with no smoking gun nor any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, Bernie called for more investigations into the president.
- In the matter of the Mueller investigation, Sanders once again shows that his rhetoric about the rights of people within the criminal justice system can be applied only based on convenience. He has never raised his voice to object to the blatantly political decisions to indict and convict Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, or Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan for process crimes absent any evidence of a crime related to Russian interference or collusion.
- The intelligence community’s contrived cases for wiretapping and surveillance of Papadopoulos and Carter Page have so far escaped his criticism, even though in 2015 he made a point of making it clear that he was against renewing the Patriot Act under President Obama.
- While objecting to prosecution in Brazil against journalist and supporter Glenn Greenwald, Sanders surrogate Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) omitted any mention of imprisoned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
In every one of those cases, neither ideology nor personal beliefs come into play. Bernie Sanders had the chance to take a stand for his innocent supporters, defusing tensions with a nuclear power and curbing the abuses of the deep state and justice system along the way. And in each case, he chose to go along to get along. That is definitely consistent—consistently treacherous.