On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.
The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia. To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base for then-candidate Donald Trump did not wane even after he rejected the tough tone of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s No. 1 foe, and repeatedly praised Putin.
The burgeoning alliance between Russians and U.S. conservatives was apparent in several events in late 2015, as the Republican nomination battle intensified.
Top officials from the National Rifle Association, whose annual meeting Friday featured an address by Trump for the third time in three years, traveled to Moscow to visit a Russian gun manufacturer and meet government officials.
About the same time in December 2015, evangelist Franklin Graham met privately with Putin for 45 minutes, securing from the Russian president an offer to help with an upcoming conference on the persecution of Christians. Graham was impressed, telling The Washington Post that Putin “answers questions very directly and doesn’t dodge them like a lot of our politicians do.”
The growing dialogue between Russians and U.S. conservatives came at the same time experts say the Russian government stepped up efforts to cultivate and influence far-right groups in Europe and on the eve of Russia’s unprecedented intrusion into the U.S. campaign, which intelligence officials have concluded was intended to elect Trump.
Russians and Americans involved in developing new ties say they are not part of a Kremlin effort to influence U.S. politics. “We know nothing about that,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said. Brown said activists in both countries are simply “uniting together under the values we share.”
There are some however within the intelligence community who seriously doubt that last statement:
“Is it possible that these are just well-meaning people who are reaching out to Americans with shared interests? It is possible,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015 after managing Russia operations for 30 years. “Is it likely? I don’t think it’s likely at all. . . . My assessment is that it’s definitely part of something bigger.”
The article goes on to explain how the Russians were able to gain support from the NRA by complaining that Obama's sanctions in response to the invasion of Crimea interfered in their ability to buy certain guns.
This inspired the NRA to speak out against the sanctions.
Putin was also able to sucker Franklin Graham by telling him that his own mother maintained her Christian faith even during the communist rule.
That was all Graham had to hear in order to convince him that Putin was an ally and to start pushing for more positive interactions with Russia from the Evangelical community.
Perhaps that's why Putin's poll numbers increased so dramatically with the Republicans.
So to put it all in perspective, the election of Donald Trump was not an anomaly, but rather the result of a long ranging plan to manipulate American conservatives into jumping through Russian held hoops.
And it worked out perfectly.
But remember, we're not supposed to disrespect the Trump supporters, or call them stupid.