Donald Trump has gone all in on accusing Hunter Biden of corruption in Ukraine, and on accusing Joe Biden of corruptly helping him. He was furious that the second debate didn’t focus on foreign policy, as he had planned to use that as his lead-in to bringing up Hunter and Ukraine (and also China), but he managed to work it in anyway. He’s been encouraged in this by Giuliani, who hates Biden for reasons of his own (“a noun, a verb, and 9/11”), and who has let himself be conned by foreign actors into accepting disinformation on Hunter and Joe.
Intelligence agencies and basically anyone who understands reality have been thinking it was Russia behind it all. Dizinformatsiya is an old Russian technique from the days of the Tsars, and Putin was trained by the KGB in such techniques. And Putin has, not very credibly, denied that Russia had anything to do with it. But today he made a somewhat different observation:
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.
Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
This undercuts a major Trump attack line. It’s not likely to be picked up by too many of Trump’s cult, but you can be sure Trump will learn of it. And Trump will be even less happy with the analysis of why Putin is saying this:
Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favour with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.
Also, remember Trump’s charge that Hunter got money from the mayor of Moscow’s wife? Putin wasn’t happy about that one, either:
Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.
Former US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul has said that Putin is a better tactician than a strategist. So these could be signs of irritation with Trump’s tactics rather than a signal that Russia is changing its strategy, which is still and always to diminish the United States as a competitor to Russia. But it reads like Putin has decided Trump is toast and that he needs to hedge his bets with Biden.
I haven’t seen any reaction yet from Trump, who may not yet have realized that those marks on his back are tire tracks.