The Trump Election: The Role of Putin's Intervention

by William Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin

Page text last updated: January 23 2017 (date each entry added to database can be found in database).

Debate on Putin's Intervention: more heat than light

In the period between the election and the inauguration, the highest profile debate about reasons for the Trump electoral win was about Putin's intervention. But that debate produced more heat than light, while key issues such as the common interests of Putin and Trump in promoting the fossil-fuel industry received only marginal attention.

The 31 articles on this explanation I have accumulated in this database do not focus on the day-to-day media battle headlined as the intelligence agencies versus the Trump teams, which seemed to beguile many into reaching conclusions based on their relative distrust of these two antagonists. It does include analytical articles on both more widely discussed and less mentioned aspects of this explanation.

Among my tentative observations:

  • There is no reasonable doubt that there was such intervention, and that, as intended, it affected the election to Trump's favor to some degree. This conclusion does not depend on what U.S. intelligence agencies said when, but on evidence analyzed by independent computer security experts, notably Thomas Rid, who documented his conclusions in an article in October 2016.

  • Although there has strangely been very little effort to analyze the scale of the effects, it was probably marginal in comparison to the multi-year Republican program of voter suppression, but also likely sufficient to account at least for the small margin of votes giving Trump the victory in swing states.

  • While the frame for the debate on Putin's intervention has been framed primarily in terms of geostrategic competition between the USA and Russia, implicitly similar to the Cold War, the common interests of Putin and Trump (and ExxonMobil) in promoting the fossil-fuel industry is probably a better key to understanding both the dynamics and the potential consequences. This point is analyzed by Joe Romm, Rachel Maddow, and Alex Steffen in articles cited below.

Since the week after the election, I have been tracking and archiving in a simple database articles, books, and monographs for 21 "intersecting explanations" for the election outcome. As David Leonhardt noted in a New York Times op-ed, "One of the sillier aspects of postelection analysis is the notion that any one factor determined the result." I argue that instead, there are many factors that acted intersectionally to produce the outcome. In analyzing which were more important, how they interacted, and what implications there are for strategy, that complex intersectionality must be taken into account.

For an overview of the database, and links to sources on other specific explanations, visit

For sources on Putin's intervention see below. Once your cursor is in the database, you can search by using normal search commands, such as control-f (Windows).


This page is part of the No Easy Victories website.