Democratic politicians such as Maxine Waters, Ted Lieu, and neo-cons such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain are publicly pushing for investigations for alleged Russian interventions in the US elections 2016, both in the Congress and within the government, while Russian officials (namely, the President) denied the claim. Some critics are saying that whether or not Russian hacked the election, they used WikiLeaks' release of Podesta emails to openly harm Hillary Clinton.

However, there are a few instances where foreign government officials openly took sides in the 2016 elections:

  • Enrique Peña Nieto, the president of Mexico, compared Trump to Hitler/Mussolini.
  • In a TV interview, when asked if she would support the US election candidate of Scottish descent, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that there was no way she would support Donald Trump.
  • In a BBC Scotland's debate for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Nicola Sturgeon along with other partisan leaders criticized Trump in the conclusion.
  • On several occasions the Merkel administration criticized Trump, including this one.

These show that other governments are also trying to change US voters' decisions, similar to what WikiLeaks did. Why is Russian intervention more important than other foreign governments' interventions?


6 Answers 6


Because openly declaring support or taking a stance is quite different than creating a stealth propaganda operation to skew people's opinions by distorting their views on facts or analysis of facts.

If you have a fake "news" site, which superficially resembles actual news sites, that claims that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are using a pizza restaurant as a conduit for a massive child pornography and prostitution ring, for instance, it gets more credibility and gets circulated and cited more than if, say, some nutter in the Russian parliament stands up and makes that accusation.

Another example is when corporations create phony front organizations to propagate their propaganda. Cigarette companies, previously, and now fossil fuel companies pay people to set up phony "think tanks" and to try and obfuscate actual facts and science. It's not as though they actually believe the propaganda - the tobacco industry, back in the 60s, had scientific research of their own that showed how horrible smoking is for human health, and yet they denied it for decades, aided and abetted by their own network of "skeptics" and contrary "scientists." We know that Exxon/Mobile had internally-funded research done that concluded the climate change was real.

What's funny is now, with the climate change "debate," you see not only the same techniques and the identical arguments about the science on this subject, but you see many of the same so-called "scientists" that were used to make the same claims during the "debate" about health science and smoking.

Now, that may seem like a tangent, but what I'm setting the stage for is this - the tobacco industry, then, and the fossil fuel industry now, have been able to delay and minimize actions against their interests, largely by muddying the waters and creating a faux debate where none actually exists. Now, would they have been able to do so effectively if it was just "Marlboro refutes the medical science" or "British Petroleum denies global warming"? Or were they able to do so because "Concerned Scientists Against Liberal Overreach" (hypothetical front organization name, do not Google for it) trot out a lot of phony arguments that don't hold water, but are a step removed from the obvious bias and self-interest in making the phony claims?

The same mechanism is at work here. If the Russians want to openly support Trump, they are free to do so, but as many or more people (who maybe feel that Russian interests might be detrimental to US interests) would react to that in the opposite direction vs what they want or intend (Russia/Putin loves Trump? Good enough for me!). Instead, they manipulated the elections and information circulating during the elections, but hid that they were doing it.

Open and honest democratic elections are entirely about transparency. The Russians operating via stealth propaganda and other espionage and sabotage of the process is contrary to open and honest democratic elections. That's why it's worse than a government taking an open stand for any administration or candidate.


This question is primarily opinion-based to some extent so I've tried to quote as many sources as possible. Any feedback is welcomed in comments.

It's mainly because it's more complicated and some believed that Russia's actions would undermine the US election and US democracy.

As quoted from the Intelligence Community Assessment report:

Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

(emphasis mine)

As quoted from this article by Quartz:

How big a threat is Russia, really?

It’s a serious threat. Putin seeks to weaken the US, the EU, and NATO to the degree that they can no longer presume to call the shots without his agreement in international affairs. Since western governments are not ordinarily prepared for such stout challenges to their democracies, they are vulnerable to the weapons of doubt he is employing, mainly creating the impression that there are no indisputable facts, that anything could be true, and that everything is either already compromised, or could be. Since trust is the bedrock of democracy, this threatens social stability across the West.

(emphasis mine)

Also, if the Russians are successful this time, they would try to interfere in future elections in the West, such as the French presidential election this year. In this way, they would try to elect leaders who are "more friendly" towards them and develop stronger bilateral ties which would benefit them and put them on the world stage.

You can check out this article for some of the comments made by Republicans lawmakers on the reasons why they're "so obsessed" with the investigation.

Russians officials would obviously deny the claim. Since the Russian government hope to reset ties with the Trump administration, publicly acknowledging that they did it would put Trump in a difficult position should he want to rebuild ties with Russia. Furthermore, the Obama administration had already imposed sanctions on Russia after the election. By publicly acknowledging the claim, it would mean the sanctions would be justified.

The few instances you listed doesn't really interfere with the election since they're just stating their opinions.

For example, if John tells someone that he doesn't support Trump compared to Tom hacking a presidential candidate's emails and releasing potentially confidential and private emails that would reveal discussions within the campaign. This would give the public information that they aren't supposed to know.

One such example is that the DNC had favored Hillary over Bernie to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee. If the emails aren't released, the public wouldn't know that. Similarly, if someone hacked Trump's tax returns and released them, it would also be illegal.

So, the examples you listed basically aren't similar with the scale of the Russian interference at all.

  • 6
    I would like to point that almost all the "anti-Trump" examples have its origin in Trump previously criticizing or making derogatory comments against the country or the people to which these politicians belong.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 8:01
  • Trump did say in a rally that "I don't know what the hell she is thinking. At some point people are going on the streets and overthrow that woman (Angela Merkel)" however 2016 was not Germany's federal election year and the US did not interfere with previous German elections, nor was Trump a government official of the US. @SJuan76 Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:38
  • This answer is very detailed. However, your point that the DNC intended to hurt Bernie in the primaries isn't something significant. Democratic Party's super-delegate system has already given the general public a very negative image that the "establishment" is for Hillary. Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:43
  • Also your point about Russia wants to threaten the social stability across the West is 100% correct. However, WikiLeaks isn't the Russian government and if we want to claim that, we have yet to gather evidence. (also a small thing: NATO does not equal the West because of Turkey's membership, as well as some EU members' absence) Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:47

Why is Russian intervention more important than other foreign governments' interventions?

Because it is political. We dish out more interference than anybody else, on a more violent scale. And that is what governments do: try to influence events for their own advantages.

It bubbles up here because a large group of peoples livelihood is threatened by trump and his strategy towards Russia.

Nothing else.

  • 3
    Can you specify whose livelihood is threatened by Trump? Are they foreign governments (e.g. Merkel's Germany)? If so, why aren't their statements/criticism not counted as foreign interventions too? Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:33

Let's use some common sense: there is an obvious difference between overt and covert behaviour, particularly in the context of the question.

Case A: various people publicly state on the record they don't like a particular candidate for President.

Case B: an organisation suspected to be sponsored by a foreign government covertly interferes with a Presidential election, creating thousands of social media accounts that purport to be Americans supporting radical political groups, waging social media campaigns that favour one candidate and disparage the other candidate, amplifying support for one and attacks on the other, seeking to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the country, fomenting dissent or conspiracies against the government and its institutions, publishing disinformation and fabrications, infiltrating the computer systems of a political party to find controversial or damaging material to leak particularly at opportune times to distract from bad news stories about the other candidate, infiltrating or attempting to infiltrate the election infrastructure, etc etc...

You have to be deliberately obtuse to not distinguish between the two cases.


Because of the potential for collusion with a foreign power.

Let's get something straight here - it does not matter if a foreign political figure supports a candidate for presidency. It may discourage voters if a certain individual voices their support, but there's nothing illegal about getting that support.

It also 'does not matter' if a private Russian-backed organization is attempting to undermine the election process, in terms of whether or not the individual seeking election should be allowed to run.

It does matter, however, if that political figure is working in conjunction with that foreign power to undermine the legitimacy of the election - because that could be considered fraud or even treason.

Investigations are done into activities that could be illegal, not into activities that are 'problematic' to an official. That is why every US citizen, regardless of their affiliation with political groups (as long as they are not an elected official barred from voting) are allowed to support, campaign, and vote for any candidate they want.

But if, say, there are secret documents being leaked by an elected official, or campaigns being run in conjunction with foreign powers to undermine the election process, those are illegal activities that need investigation, and possibly the removal of the individual from office if the investigation proves sufficient wrongdoing.

This doesn't have anything to do with the ethical ramifications of those groups backing the candidate - whether they be a positive or negative impact on their ability to be elected - the fact is, the investigation into the Russian Wikileaks connection was a criminal investigation, to determine if any criminal activity took place.

There may be significant political pressure behind those investigations - and significant political pressure to douse those investigations - but the reason for them being taken so seriously is wholly separate from the level of influence they have over the politicians involved, because they indicate a criminal charge.

Now, that's not to say politically individuals can't use those public connections to discredit the candidate - indeed they very often do. But if your question is 'why is this connection more critically looked at, to the point of leading to an impeachment trial', then your answer is 'because there was the potential to uncover criminal activity'.


In general you may want to consider who it is that is talking and who stands to gain from the various options suggested. But:

In the examples listed a politician spoke to a reporter to dispute controversial declarations possibly mostly meant for the people in their jurisdictions. The German and Mexican statements appear to be responses to intentionally inflammatory remarks of questionable factualness aimed at their countries, and does anyone outside of Scotland care what the Scottish say? Politicians politicking, time to switch back to cat videos.

The wikileaks action seems to be a considered attempt by a sophisticated group to influence America through breaking our laws. If this is the Russian military defeating the security on a major American institution it may be an indication of a hacker gap with serious balance of power ramifications. And certainly carries home implications about how computers need to be considered in the modern world.

In both cases it seems to be professionals using the tools of their trade, but generally we consider foreign politicians' work less interesting than soldiers'.

  • 2
    The foreign politicians' comments might not make a large influence, although Peña Nieto's comments was widely spread though some US news outlets such as Telemundo and Univisión. Also if you talk about influence, right wing fake news probably made a bigger impact on the election result. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 23:19
  • 2
    @DylanCzenski - and a lot of that fake news circulated or cited stories that originated from Russian-run sources. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 14:42

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