On 2 September, ABC News revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had withheld publication of an intelligence report warning of a supposed Russian scheme to influence the US elections by promoting “allegations about the poor mental health” of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
According to the media outlet, the bulletin titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Election”, was submitted to the agency on July 7 but has never been distributed to the DHS's federal, state and local law enforcement partners. The document also touched upon China and Iran's alleged efforts to hurt Trump's re-election.
Americans Need No Foreign Scheme to See What's Going On
Reacting to the media revelation, a DHS spokesperson later explained that the intel report was delayed as it did not meet the agency's standards, adding that the department usually does not comment on any leaked documents.
"The report that you referenced was, at the end of the day, a very poorly written report", Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told Fox News last Wednesday. "I had questions about it when I talked to career officials in I&A [Intelligence and Analysis] in the office that produced the report."
Nevertheless, the story was widely disseminated in the US mainstream media, which insisted that the authors of the aforementioned bulletin said with "high confidence" that "Russian malign influence actors are likely to continue denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health to influence the outcome of the 2020 election". Besides this, the bulletin argued that four years ago Moscow supposedly tried to sow "serious doubts about [then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s] physical capability".
"On a sad and serious note, for years one might question the sanity of anyone who might seek the US presidency," says Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist. "Without help from outsiders, thoughtful Americans, interested in facts certainly see Biden today as a much diminished version of his hapless self from 1988 while listening to his incoherent babbling, and watching his poor choices and prescriptions for the future."
As for rumours concerning Hillary Clinton's physical capabilities, everyone saw that on 11 September 2016 she collapsed after leaving a memorial ceremony in New York City, the analyst recollects. He adds that no foreign actor was needed to spread the rumour since the video of the incident quickly went viral on social media.
'US Voters Face a Clear Choice'
Following the ABC News leak, the Biden campaign jumped at the opportunity to accuse the incumbent president's team of throwing into question the Democratic nominee's health and claimed that Russia and the Trump campaign "are speaking from the same script of smears and lies".
"We now know far more about the lengths to which Donald Trump will go to manipulate and conceal intelligence for partisan political purposes, and to strip our country of its defenses against foreign attacks on our democracy," the Biden campaign's spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to ABC News, also referring to the decision by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to suspend in-person congressional briefings on election security over previous leaks of sensitive information.
For its part, Wired connected the delayed report to Ratcliffe's recent move, and Attorney General William Barr's decision to replace the head of the Justice Department’s national security Office of Law and Policy, alleging that Trump is "eroding election security" ahead of the 2020 vote.
"Each move would be concerning on its own, but the combination is uniquely troubling and should raise fresh questions with Capitol Hill, state and local election officials, and voters about how seriously the Trump administration is committed to combating election interference," the media outlet claimed.
Commenting on the media speculations, Ortel notes that the Democratic establishment and its allies have long been promoting "a criminally false narrative against Team Trump that the corrupt MSM, academia, and crony capitalists willingly embraced starting the day Trump and his wife announced his candidacy in 2015".
Drawing parallels between today's attempts to shift the blame to Russia and Trump for flaws and setbacks of the Democratic campaign in 2016 and 2020, the analyst recalls that it was Hillary Clinton who "cockil,y then foolishly, failed to show up seeking vital support in key swing states" as the election day neared and apparently therefore lost. Nevertheless, the former Democratic hopeful pinned the blame on Russia for her defeat and reiterated it in her book "What Happened" (2017). Moscow has repeatedly and resolutely denied the accusations of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election in the US as groundless.
Trump-Russia Hoax No Longer Works
Meanwhile, it appears that American conservatives have been left unimpressed by the worn-out Russian bogey exploited by the left-leaning US media and Democratic politicians over and over again.
The Federalist, a conservative American online magazine, subjected ABC News' report to ridicule and cast doubt on the much-discussed intelligence bulletin last Thursday:
"If talking about Biden’s mental fitness is a Russian scheme, for example, what other seemingly legitimate concerns might the Kremlin be planting in our minds? Preferring lower taxes? Opposing partial-birth abortion? National mask mandates and lockdowns seem an obvious target," Christopher Bedford, the magazine's senior editor, wrote in an op-ed titled "ABC: Joe Biden Isn’t Senile, You Guys, That’s Just What The Russians Want You To Think".
According to Ortel, "Joe Biden and his team are failing spectacularly themselves" without any foreign interference.
"Blaming others is like saying your dog ate your homework after you failed to turn anything in," he notes, adding that this scenario as well as the "Russia-Trump hoax" are thinly veiled and could hardly produce any effect on Trump's base or thoughtful voters.
The timing of the new accusations against the Trump campaign is remarkable given the upcoming revelations by US Attorney John Durham, who has been investigating the FBI and DOJ's handling of the Trump-Russia probe for quite a while, according to Ortel. On 30 August, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox News that he is coordinating efforts with Durham and plans to declassify "additional documents" soon.
Voters in America can weigh up the pros and cons themselves and they need no perspectives from abroad to make their choice on 3 November, the analyst concludes.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.