In addition to the indicted conspirators themselves, the charges handed down today against 12 Russian operatives by the Department of Justice includes allegations against a variety of unnamed co-conspirators. I happen to know one of those unnamed co-conspirators personally because I hosted a podcast with this co-conspirator for nearly a year. We’ll circle back to this, I assure you.
It’s important, first, to make one thing abundantly clear. The indictments allege that the 12 Russians charged in today’s explosive court filing are operatives employed by the Russian GRU, the “Main Intelligence Directorate” which is the Russian government’s military intelligence agency. This means the attack against the election was engaged by the Russian government and the Russian military against the United States. Full stop.
Contrary to Donald Trump’s propaganda, the attackers weren’t 400 pound men in their basements, or some other perpetrator — this was an attack by the government of Russia against the United States. It was an attack against American democracy and our national sovereignty with the intention of electing Donald Trump. And these particular GRU operatives include the now infamous hackers “GUCCIFER 2.0” and “DCLeaks,” so anytime you hear about American officials communicating with GUCCIFER 2.0 during the election, it’s entirely fair and accurate to say those officials were conspiring (wittingly or unwittingly) with Russian intelligence agents.
One of the Americans who was allegedly suckered by GUCCIFER 2.0 happened to have been my old podcast partner Lee Stranahan, who previously was a protege of Andrew Breitbart and who currently hosts a radio show for the Russia state-controlled Sputnik radio network. The last we heard from Stranahan, he was mentioned by name in the House Intelligence Committee’s “Minority Report” issued by the panel’s Democratic members. You can read all about the report and the surrounding news in this piece I published back in March.
On page 16 of today’s indictment, however, it appears as if Stranahan is further entangled with Russian intelligence agents, specifically GUCCIFER 2.0.
On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an alticle about their release.
According to Marcy Wheeler, the “reporter” in this section is none other than Mr. Stranahan.
The journalist who obtained the Black Lives Matter documents was then Breitbart and current Sputnik journalist Lee Stranahan. https://t.co/O7YlzGPYdX
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) July 13, 2018
Marcy linked to the entire text conversation between Lee and GUCCIFER 2.0 — who, again, turns out to be a Russian GRU intelligence agent who was absolutely a combatant in a state-sanctioned attack against the United States. Click to enlarge:
Now, it’s entirely possible that Stranahan had no idea who he was dealing with. It’s also possible that Stranahan won’t be indicted. Likewise, knowing how his name has popped up in this fiasco more than once, it’d be safe to assume he’s at least on Mueller’s radar. Furthermore, he allegedly conspired with Roger Stone to mask GUCCIFER 2.0’s actual identity as a GRU agent.
And let’s not totally bury the lede that Stranahan’s intent was to smear the Black Lives Matter movement, leaving the rest of us to wonder why he’d resort to the extreme act of collaborating with Russian military attackers in that endeavor. Stranahan didn’t strike me as a racist when I knew him, even though he turned against Barack Obama rather quickly after having supported Obama during the 2008 campaign. In observing Stranahan’s switchover from an Obama-voting progressive to a Breitbart conservative, I always assumed he did it purely for the money and notoriety. I might be wrong, but that’s how it looked, and not just to me but others who knew him pre-Breitbart.
Life is weird, especially knowing I’m one-degree-of-separation away from a man who might be indicted by the grand jury in the probe into the Russian attack. But nothing’s more bizarre than the reality that perhaps millions of Americans were suckered by the Russians, too, further underscoring the toxicity of social media and the inability of our fellow citizens to discern between agitprop and factual reality. By the way, I’m not limiting that “suckered” criticism to Trump voters. There were more than a few Democratic voters who turned against Hillary Clinton due to the attack.
One last thing for those of you who knew him: Oh, how I wish my old friend Chez were here to see this story.