‘Putin was playing to win’: Former Ambassador to Russia says ‘comprehensive’ 2016 election meddling succeeded
Stanford Prof. Michael McFaul served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia (screengrab)

Former Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul detailed the "comprehensive" efforts by the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin to elect Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

"There have been multiple theories of what the Russians did with the Trump campaign," MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd noted. "Some, that there was a big secret meeting with Trump and Putin who plotted this out."

"Or, more realistically, it was some form of the spread offense by the Russians," Todd continued. "It doesn't seem as if it was one attempt, that it was 30 attempts. Is that fair?"

"Yeah, I like that metaphor, spread offense, for sure," McFaul replied. "And over multiple years and multiple modalities of different kinds of things they did."

"They reached out directly and offered up kompromat on the candidate but then they hacked, they stole data and published it, unprecedented with the DNC and [John] Podesta and then they had another operation on social media and then they had another operation going on with civil society as we would call it generally working directly the N.R.A. to create a backchannel," he noted. "So it was a comprehensive strategy on multiple fronts trying to influence the outcome of the election."

"I like the metaphor, I'll use that Chuck," the Stanford professor added.

Todd put onscreen a graphic showing the nine Russians known to have had contacts with Trump associates.

[caption id="attachment_1410209" align="aligncenter" width="640"] 'MTP Daily' graphic of the Russians in contact with Trump associates (screengrab)[/caption]

"So I think it just underscores that this was comprehensive," McFaul continued. "Putin was playing to win."

"And I do believe, as we talked before, he was seeking to get revenge from what he believed was what Secretary [Hillary] Clinton did during his parliamentary election back in 2011 and he went on the offensive in 2016," he concluded.