News and Commentary

5 Times Democrats Tried To Work With The Russians To Swing Elections

The Left has been screaming for Donald Trump Jr.’s head after it became known that he met with a Russian government attorney with the intent of obtaining opposition research on Hillary Clinton. While this was wrong (but not illegal), the Democrats aren’t really in a position to lecture about Russia collusion since their party has a history of attempting to work with the Russians to swing elections.

Here are five times Democrats attempted to work with Russia to influence elections.

1. Former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) twice reached out to the Soviet Union for election help. According to Michael Reagan, Sen. John Tunney (D-CA), at the behest of his friend Ted Kennedy, lobbied the Soviet Union “to sabotage [Jimmy] Carter’s foreign policy efforts,” as this was during Kennedy’s primary challenge against Carter in 1980.

“One 1980 document stated that Kennedy offered to condemn President Carter’s policy toward the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in exchange for KGB help,” wrote Reagan. “News accounts of that period prove that Kennedy did, in fact, openly criticize Carter’s Afghanistan policy.”

Additionally, in 1983 Kennedy reached out to the Soviet Union in an attempt to undermine Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and weaken his re-election prospects in 1984, even going as far as offering to set up television interviews in America in order to make the Soviets come across as more “peaceful.”

2. In 2012, Barack Obama said to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president at the time: “After my election I have more flexibility.” This now-infamous quote was from a hot mic; Obama was telling Medvedev that at that time he just needed Vladimir Putin, who had won Russia’s presidential election earlier that month, “to give me space” on Russia-related issues until after his election. Medvedev told Obama, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”

During one of the 2012 presidential debates, Obama snarkily said to Mitt Romney, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Obama won re-election, and Putin proceeded to take advantage of Obama’s “flexibility” with his invasion of Crimea and calling the shots in Syria.

3. Jimmy Carter tried to work with the Soviets during the 1980 election to improve his chances against Ronald Reagan. Michael Reagan also noted in his column that Carter, through his political ally Armand Hammer, lobbied for the Soviet Union to let “Jewish ‘refuseniks’ emigrate to Israel” to strengthen Carter’s standing in important states, but the Soviets rebuffed Carter.

Interestingly, Reagan biographer Craig Shirley wrote in one of his books that during the 1976 election, the Soviet Union “had made overtures to the Carter campaign,” even going as far as suggesting “that they could possibly pursue policies that could affect the outcome of the election so as to favor Carter.”

4. Bill Clinton pledged to support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996 if Yeltsin agreed “to clear up ‘negative’ issues.” The Washington Times unearthed a confidential memo in 1996 that revealed the following:

President Clinton, in a private meeting at the recent anti-terrorism summit, promised Boris Yeltsin he would back the Russian president’s re-election bid with “positive” U.S. policies toward Russia.

In exchange, Mr. Clinton asked for Mr. Yeltsin’s help in clearing up “negative” issues such as the poultry dispute between the two countries, according to a classified State Department record of the meeting obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Clinton told Mr. Yeltsin that “this is a big issue, especially since about 40 percent of U.S. poultry is produced in Arkansas. An effort should be made to keep such things from getting out of hand,” the memo said.

Bill Gertz, who reported on the memo and is now an editor for the Washington Free Beacon and a columnist for The Washington Times, explained that the memo “exposed the Bill Clinton style of leadership — going to bat for his political donors and other vested interests in his home state of Arkansas.”

5. When Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, he wanted the Soviets on the Democrats’ side during the 1984 election. According to Michael Reagan, O’Neill told the Soviet Union’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Dobrynin, “that it was in everyone’s best interests if the Soviets would help the Democrats keep ‘that demagogue Reagan’ from being re-elected.”

“O’Neill warned Dobrynin that the ‘primitive instincts’ of this ‘dangerous man’ would plunge the world into war,” wrote Reagan.

Each of these examples, with the possible exception of the Clinton-Yeltsin one, were easily worse than Trump Jr. agreeing to a meeting with a Russian government lawyer for dirt on Hillary Clinton. Again, this does not excuse Trump Jr’s sleazy behavior, but it does show that the Democrats are more than happy to do the same thing when it helps their side.

Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter.