Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa explained in a column for The New York Times that Attorney General Bill Barr and President Donald Trump are using Russian tactics to help them control the narrative around special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Barr came under mass scrutiny for how he handled Mueller's report. After a nearly two year investigation, Barr made the report public only after holding a Thursday morning press conference.
"Mr. Putin’s ultimate victory may have come on Thursday morning, during Attorney General Bill Barr’s news conference. By seamlessly conflating the terms 'collusion' and 'conspiracy,' and absolving President Trump of both, Mr. Barr revealed that the Russian information warfare technique of 'reflexive control' has officially entered American public discourse — and threatens, with his recent allegations of campaign 'spying,' to stay there for a while," Rangappa said.
She explained that "Reflexive control is a uniquely Russian technique of psychological manipulation through disinformation. This is exactly what has happened with much of the American public in the course of Mueller’s investigation."
She noted that Trump's team motives to control the narrative happened earlier on in the investigation. The report also reveals that Trump on multiple times tried to stop the investigation.
"The Trump administration seized on this legal ambiguity early on, with the refrain that 'collusion is not a crime.' The standard set here is that anything falling below criminally chargeable behavior is acceptable. When it comes to the presidency, this is not true. The Constitution lays out the procedure for removing an unfit president from office for 'treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,'" she wrote.
She then explained that Barr will continue to use the Russian tactics.
"We should take a lesson from this current moment, because it is not over. Mr. Barr’s latest accusations of the F.B.I. 'spying' on the Trump campaign once again threatens to flip our understanding of words upside down," she explained.
"Undermining the integrity of law enforcement is a double boon for Russia, which seeks to erode Americans’ confidence in our institutions and constrain our ability to stop their efforts. This time, however, we can stop our reflexive actions to Mr. Barr’s linguistic sleight of hand and keep the focus on the national security threat posed by Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia. If we don’t, Mr. Putin has certainly won," she said.
Read the full column here.