The controversy over whether Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders’ campaign for presidency helped sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 is reignited again after discoveries from the Russian indictments found that Russian bots were helping to boost Clinton’s campaign as well as Donald Trump’s, reports The Washington Times.
The indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three entities on Friday found that they were working behind the scenes on behalf of Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary and for Stein with the Green party’s campaign.
“By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” said the 37-page indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller.
“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,” said the document.
Days before the November 2016 election, a Russian-run Instagram account called “Blacktivist” posted the message, “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote,” according to the indictment.
Stein has been accused of her own involvement with the Russian government. Democratic Coalition co-founder Scott Dworkin responded by calling Stein a “Russian pawn,” while there is a photo of her at a December 2015 dinner for the Moscow network RT with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“They were pushing votes, just to give one example, to Jill Stein,” said Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Her vote in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was greater than the gap between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in those states.”
He added, “So we can’t prove that it did affect the outcome, but it certainly seems likely that it had some impact.”
David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama presidential campaign, pointed out that Stein received 50,700 votes in Michigan, a state the Republican Trump won by fewer than 12,000 votes.
“If Russians sought to redirect alienated HRC voters to third parties, as the indictment alleges, it was a shrewd ploy,” he tweeted.
Sanders and Stein have both condemned the meddling in separate statements, but Stein didn’t help her cause with a Sunday interview with MSNBC’s Alex Witt.
In the interview, Stein continually kept trying to deflect questions about whether Russian interference helped her campaign by diverting attention to allegations that the Democratic National Committee rigged the primary in favor of Clinton.
“We don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. Yes, there was Russian interference, but remember, there was very compelling interference going on by way of media, by way of the DNC — did the DNC not rig the primary?” Stein asked.
She argued that the Mueller indictment only mentioned “one Facebook post,” adding, “This doesn’t pass the laugh test.”
RawStory mocked Stein after the interview, saying she became “unglued” and “attempted a frantic defense” by citing the DNC and estimates that Mr. Trump received $6 billion in free airtime from the networks.
Meanwhile, Sanders also gave his defense on Sunday saying that the interference by Russian hackers ahd been reported during the campaign, calling the revelations raised by special counsel Robert Mueller “kind of old news.”
“It’s what most Americans know,” said Sanders on NBC’s “Meet the Press, adding that there were posts on Facebook saying “all kinds of horrible, horrible things about Hillary Clinton.”
Sanders even tried to defend that he and his team tried to address the interference after he lost the nomination.
“And it turns out that one of our social media guys in San Diego actually went to the Clinton campaign in September and said, ‘Something weird is going on. Bernie’s not in the campaign, hundreds of these people are now coming on his Facebook site. So I think we already knew that it was an effort to undermine American democracy,’ said Sanders.”
Still, the crazy loyal Hillary fanatics were only fueled by the indictments discovery and going back to their usual claim that Sanders had impacted the election negatively for Clinton.
“#BErnieSanders helped this happen,” tweeted actress Lisa Ann Walter, referring to the Trump administration.
The indictment says that the Russian interference effort began in 2014, well before any of the candidates had entered the 2016 race, and that the amounts spent were relatively minuscule.
“To the extent it mattered, it would have blended into the background and had a cumulative effect over the entirety of the campaign,” concludedFiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver.