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From Russia with love: Putin’s state media unmask whistleblower in response to Rand Paul’s request

November 7, 2019

Russia, are you listening? Standing in solidarity with Donald Trump at a rally in Kentucky on November 4, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) demanded that the media “unmask” the whistleblower whose report about the president’s alleged extortion of Ukraine had set off impeachment investigations in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While American news organizations were loath to identify the patriot who had spoken out in the interest of national security, Kremlin-controlled state media promptly jumped on Paul’s request, The Daily Beast reported on November 6.

Very quickly after Senator Paul tweeted out an article that speculated in considerable detail about the identity of the whistleblower—with a photograph, a name, and details about the purported political history of a CIA professional—Russian state media followed suit, the news outlet said.

As if on cue, Putin’s state news organizations—TASS, RT, Rossiya-1—disseminated the same information. But unlike Rand Paul, one of the Russian state media outlets didn’t seem to find the source—Real Clear Investigations—to be particularly impressive, and claimed falsely that the material was published originally by The Washington Post.

This was the most egregious—but certainly not the only example—of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading for Trump’s fight against impeachment as proceedings against him continue to unfold with growing speed, The Daily Beast reported. Immediately, the talking heads on Fox News picked up on Trump’s talking points—and they also have been echoed across the pond, albeit with a tinge of irony.

“Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?” asked Russian TV journalist Vladimir Soloviev, the host of the show Evening with Vladimir Soloviev.

“They say Trump is making Russia great. That’s basically accurate,” pointed out Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio and a prominent fixture on Russian state television. “The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”

For his part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian client whose regime teetered on the brink of collapse only to be saved definitively by Trump’s chaotic approach to the Middle East, recently said that “President Trump is the best type of president for a foe.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast