USA

Actually, Putin would prefer a President Bernie — but it’s America’s voters who’ll decide

Russia’s overarching goal in all its overseas disinformation work is to destabilize its rivals. That was true with its meddling in the 2016 US campaign — and it’s just as true for 2020.

So it was maddening to see media coverage last week suggesting that the US intelligence community had determined that Vladimir Putin’s hackers aim to reelect President Trump — period.

It’s now indisputable that this was a serious distortion — the product of partisan leaks out of a classified hearing, spin readily accepted by Trump-hating media.

After all, it fits into the denialist explanation for how Trump won and offers an excuse for any defeat this November.

But come on: Moscow has to prefer a Bernie Sanders win. Sanders is determined to defund the US military, end most economic sanctions and pull troops away from any overseas engagement — and his policies are guaranteed to sink the US economy, too.

Above all, he’s dead-set on banning fracking — which has made the United States the world’s No. 1 energy exporter and pushed down global energy prices, depriving Putin of billions in income. Indeed, the biggest single theme of Russia’s overseas propaganda is encouraging the Free World to shut down oil and gas production.

And, in fact, news dropped late Friday that US officials have briefed Sanders on Russian efforts to help him this year. Indeed, that fact was also part of last week’s intel briefing to House lawmakers — omitted by the leakers.

In fact, as the Mueller report noted, Russia’s Internet Research Agency told its operatives in 2016, “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them.” That was the logical “more chaos” approach when Clinton was seen as the sure winner.

Sadly, the media-Democratic tendency to obsess on Trump-Putin fantasies has served the Kremlin well: The collusion delusion hobbled the president for years.

Trump has had far more nice words for Putin than we’d like. But not actions: For example, he’s gotten other NATO members to spend more on defense, strengthening the alliance. Sanders, by contrast, has blamed NATO for provoking Russian aggression.

All that said, any Russian trolling on behalf of anyone is just a tiny fraction of the vast outpouring of political speech in this country; it’s not going to swing any election.

If either Bernie or Trump win in November, it won’t be Putin’s fault — but the American voters’.