U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley adopted a rather aggressive posture toward Russia yesterday, accusing the adversary of destabilizing efforts in a variety of areas. It Haley to declare:
"Deny, distract, and lie. We have heard this same song many times before. Whether it was aiding the Assad regime with chemical weapons, whether it was the attempted murder of the Skripals with the dangerous nerve agent in the United Kingdom, whether it was election meddling in the United States -- which didn't work, by the way."
If you watch the clip, it appears the ambassador was referencing pre-written notes, right up until those last six words, which Haley appeared to ad-lib.
And while it's always welcome when the Trump administration acknowledges Russian interference in American elections -- something the president has repeatedly failed to do -- Haley's assertion about Russia's failure struck a curious note.
Moscow's election interference "didn't work"?
Among the most important moments in the Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki two months ago was the Russian president's concession that he wasn't neutral in the 2016 American election: as regular readers know, Vladimir Putin acknowledged that he wanted Donald Trump to win.
Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked the Russian leader if he wanted Trump in the White House. Putin replied, "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."
The acknowledgement was consistent with literally everything we know about Russian efforts in 2016: Putin believed Russia would benefit from Trump and his party's success.
When Nikki Haley says Russian election meddling in the United States "didn't work," the fact that she was named to her post by the Kremlin's preferred presidential candidate suggests the opposite.