Putin engages his psychic powers to establish a link with Will Byers.
Putin engages his psychic powers to establish a link with Will Byers. ID1974 / Shutterstock.com

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Okay, so someone somehow got ahold of the DNC's emails, uncovering incontrovertible proof that it is incredibly boring to work at the DNC. Other than that, there's nothing in there we didn't already know — politics are sleazy (surprise!), the system would be rigged if insiders were competent enough to rig it! — but the leak is at least an excuse to feign outrage at a gun that we've been watching smoke for decades.

The leak is also, according to people who seem to know what they're talking about, the work of Russian spies. I know Stranger Things has us all feeling nostalgic for the '80s, but this is one throwback we could really do without.

How do we know the Russians are to blame? We don't, exactly, but it seems likely. The hackers ceased work during a Russian holiday; they used Cyrillic text; and they're consistent with Russian attacks on government servers from last year. Then again, these clues are awfully convenient, so maybe it's Iran's way of throwing us off their trail. Who knows!

But whether they were involved or not, what we do know is that Russia seems awfully keen to see Donald win this election, and the email leak has undermined the Democrats somewhat. This wouldn't the first time Russians have exploited internal political strife: according to Fiona Hill at the Brookings Institute, in the 1980s, the US was planning to bolster European defenses against the Soviet Union, so the USSR sowed division in the British Labour Party to derail the effort.

And then there's the ongoing romance between Trump and Putin. Each has lavished praise on the other. Not to mention Trump's suggestion that if Putin wanted to invade a Baltic state or two, America might break the 70-year-old NATO treaty and let him go right ahead. (This is particularly worrisome since the Baltic states are so close to Scandinavia, and many of us will probably consider fleeing to Copenhagen once Trump is elected.)

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And Trump certainly hasn't been a stranger to Russian politics and business interests. Recently, he's used the Miss Universe pageant as a cover for meeting with Russian oligarchs, but the family's financial ties with Russia go back decades.

His campaign has ties to Russia, too: advisor Paul Manafort worked for the Putin-backed President in the Ukraine, amed Viktor Yanukovych, who crushed a democratic uprising before being crushed by a subsequent uprising. Another Trump advisor, Carter Page, worked for Putin's energy company Gazprom on behalf of Merrill Lynch. And advisor Michael Caputo was on Gazprom's payroll too, with the mandate to soften America's opinion of Vladimir Putin. (This was back in 2000, and Caputo later said that he was "not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy." Haha no, of course not, Putin was an angel in the 90s.)

So where do Democrats go from here? Well, maybe if they're clever about it, they can use the leak to tie Trump to Putin. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook did his darndest this weekend, telling news shows that Russia would like nothing more than to see a President Trump. If they can tie him to Moscow, maybe they can destroy his career. Hey, it worked for Joe McCarthy.

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