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‘Likely Putin knew about Operation Infection’: James Risen explains how Hillary attacks were like AIDS smears

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Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen explained to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Friday how Russia’s covert meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign was similiar to a KGB effort that sought to falsely blame America for the HIV-AIDS crisis.

“Real pleasure to have you here. You have been covering intelligence for literally decades, you’ve co-written a book with someone who worked at the CIA specifically about the KGB,” Hayes noted. “Just start there with your knowledge how the KGB and successor agencies operated and how that looks, the indictment today and what we know about Russian interference with that history in context.”

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“The Russian interference in the 2016 election fits perfectly into the past history of the way the KGB has operated over the years,” Risen explained.

“They are experts at covert action programs that are designed to inject disinformation into foreign countries,” Risen continued “and one of the cold war cases that I talk about in the piece is called Operation Infection in the early 1980s where the KGB went to great lengths through cutouts and intermediaries and using, you know, unwitting news organizations, to spread the rumor and the false story that the United States was behind the HIV-AIDS virus — and that had an insidious effect in the third world for a long time.”

“It was kind of the precursor to fake news,” he explained.

Risen also wondered what Vladimir Putin knew and when he knew it.

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“I think one of the interesting things, there were East German scientists involved in spreading this rumor, at a time when Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer in East Germany and so it’s very likely he knew about Operation Infection,” Risen suggested.

“And he then later, as you know, became director of the FSB in 1998 even before he became President of Russia,” Risen reminded. “So he has a long tradition steeped into the KGB’s history of covert action.”

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Is Donald Trump a traitor?” Hayes asked.

“People dismiss it because it seems too much to contemplate, why is that to you the core question?” Hayes wondered.

“What all this is saying, was Donald Trump elected with the help of Russia?” Risen clarified.

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“Did he cooperate with a foreign government to take control of the United States government? That to me is almost a textbook definition of treason, and if he did that, if collusion is proven, then I think almost by definition he’s a traitor,” Risen charged.

“I think everyone is afraid of the consequences of using that word because it’s so fraught, but that is essentially what it is,” Risen explained. “If you collude with an adversary of the United States to take over the government of the United States, you’re a traitor.”

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Lawmaker Rashida Tlaib calls for boycott of Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’ over Israel comments

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., suggested a boycott against HBO host Bill Maher after he denounced the international movement to boycott Israel as a "bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class."

This article first appeared on Salon.

"Maybe folks should boycott his show," Tlaib wrote in a tweet on Saturday. "I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn't work then and it won't now."

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GOPer Joni Ernst booed and peppered with questions about guns at tense Iowa town hall

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In videos uploaded to Twitter, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) received a chorus of boos and shouts from a town hall crowd after she tried to blame mass shootings on mental health issues, with one person shouting, "Do something!"

According to a report from Iowa Starting Line, the embattled Iowa Senator whose approval numbers have dropped, due in part to President Donald Trump, was pressed by one local teacher about changing gun laws so she can get back to the job she was hired for.

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Every morning we wake up and the nightmare that is Donald Trump seems to go on. Most nightmares, even recurring ones, eventually come to an end. We must hope this one will eventually end as well.

As a columnist, it’s difficult to keep writing about what seems to be the same thing over and over — Trump being a racist, homophobic, sexist pig. Then he, his family or someone in the administration does something else that boggles the mind. Last week, he retweeted a conspiracy theory that the Clintons were responsible for Jeffrey Epstein’s death. Every time you think he can’t sink lower he does.

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