Who would have thought Russia would become an important part of the week of the Democratic convention? They are, because someone hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer system and released evidence that party officers wanted to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ campaign. It is thought that Russia did the hacking. Why? Well they said so, as we reported weeks ago.

On June 13, the Defense and Foreign Affairs team of Oil.com said the emails would be released through Wikileaks, but that the deed was done in Russia.

The reports indicated that the decision as to whether to reveal the intercepts would be made by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, and it was possible that the release would, if made, be through a third party, such as Wikileaks. . .

Moscow’s discreet messaging about a possible leak of the traffic, in time to impact the U.S. elections. . .largely due to Russian concerns about possible U.S. strategic policy in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

And evidence of Russian involvement is mounting, according to NewsMax.

The Democratic National Committee email hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 corresponded with a political publication through software in a Russian language, pointing an even stiffer finger in connecting the hack to Russia, The Hill’s Joe Uchill reported Tuesday. . .

The Hill shared the emails with ThreatConnect, an internet security platform, which confirmed the Elite VPN product used has a website written in Russian with links to English translations and a signup process written solely in Russian.

“The noose is tightening around Russia,” ThreatConnect director of threat intelligence Rich Barger told Uchill.

The leaks led to fury among Bernie Sanders supporters, and an almost immediate resignation by Debbie Wasserman Schultz as party chair.

Democrats are saying that the leak, just in time to disrupt the Democratic convention shows that Russia is trying to manipulate our political system, and elect Trump. Russia denies the charge.

The timing of the emails’ release has led some to speculate that the Russian government wants to hurt the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and help that of Donald Trump, a much more pro-Russian candidate. . . “Moscow is at pains to avoid any words that could be interpreted as direct or indirect interference in the election process,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Meanwhile, Trump also denied involvement.

Trump told CBS4’s Jim DeFede during an interview at his golf resort in Doral. “I mean I have nothing to do with Russia. I don’t have any jobs in Russia. I’m all over the world but we’re not involved in Russia.”

The Russian link stems from the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails which have proven highly embarrassing to the Democratic Party and its nominee, Hillary Clinton. . . “Is that the theory? I haven’t heard that at all,” Trump told the Miami station. “I mean I haven’t heard that. But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

Apparently, that’s not entirely true. . .

Trump has repeatedly explored real estate deals in Russia dating back to the late 1980s. Most recently, Trump chose Moscow as the host city of the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owned at the time. While in Moscow, Trump discussed real estate projects, including with billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov, whose property hosted the pageant.

Several of Trump’s advisers also have connections to Moscow and its allies. His campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, served as a political consultant to Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, a Putin ally who fled to Russia after he was driven out by a pro-Western uprising in March 2014. One of Trump’s few named foreign policy advisers is Carter Page, an investment banker who has worked in Moscow and has advised and invested in the state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom. Another Trump adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has made several appearances on the propagandistic Kremlin-funded Russian television network RT. Last December, Flynn flew to Moscow for RT’s 10th anniversary dinner, where he donned a tuxedo and sat next to Putin at the head table.

Conservative columnist George Will thinks it’s likely that Trump is involved in Russia.

Trump’s comment comes after conservative pundit George Will suggested Monday on Fox News that Trump’s tax returns might show business links to Russian oligarchs.

“Well, it’s the sort of thing we might learn if we saw the candidate’s tax returns,” Will said. “Perhaps one more reason why we’re not seeing his tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others. Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent, it’s probably the reasonable surmise.”

Trump and Putin have mutually praised one another. No doubt, Putin is pleased that Trump recently said that he might not come to the aid of NATO allies, if Russia invaded them. At the convention, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said Russia should not be taken lightly.

“The truth is that a Trump victory in November would be a gift to Vladimir Putin, and given what we’ve learned about Russia’s recent actions, Putin is eager to see Trump win,” Albright said in an apparent reference to accusations that Russia had a hand in hacking the email accounts of top DNC officials. . .

“Take it from someone who fled the Iron Curtain. I know what happens when you give the Russians a green light,” she said.

As a reminder, Trump has been friendly toward Russia and Putin for some time.

Trump’s views on Russia have caused growing concern among Democrats and foreign policy experts for months. Trump and Putin have exchanged flattering words from afar, with Trump praising Putin as a “strong” and “powerful” leader. He also has downplayed allegations that Putin has ordered or condoned the killing of journalists.

Trump has questioned the relevance of the NATO alliance, a bulwark of trans-Atlantic security for nearly seven decades, and groused about the expense of propping up allies who don’t pay their fair share. Last week, Trump suggested the U.S. might not honor its obligation under the treaty to assist a member state that comes under foreign attack. Those words likely pleased Putin, who calls NATO an aggressive threat to his country.

Trump also has taken positions on Ukraine that are obviously to the Kremlin’s liking. His campaign blocked an effort last week to include language in the GOP platform supporting U.S. arms deliveries to Kiev to fight pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east.

On Wednesday, Trump made a drastic break from bipartisan foreign policy consensus, saying he would consider recognizing Crimea — the strategic Ukrainian peninsula Putin annexed in 2014 — as Russian territory, and might also lift U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response. (“We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking,” Trump said in response to a question.”)

Then, Trump went on the offensive.

Donald Trump invited Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on Wednesday, asking one of America’s longstanding geopolitical adversaries to find “the 30,000 emails that are missing” from the personal server she used during her time as secretary of state.

“I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican nominee said at a news conference in Florida. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Reaction to that, from the Clinton camp. . .

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Hillary for America policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.” . . .

An ex-CIA head question’s Trump’s loyalty to the U.S. in a CNN interview.

Today Trump invited Russia to track down Hillary Clinton‘s missing emails, which set off a lot of alarm bells and spurned Twitter cries of treason.

And while it’s not quite at that level, Panetta brought up a pretty serious issue:

Fmr. CIA Dir. Panetta on Trump call for Russia HRC hacking: Trump’s loyalty to U.S. in question & possible “conspiracy” with a foreign power
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) July 27, 2016


He also said that Trump’s remarks were “beyond the pale” and show he’s unfit for the presidency.

Fmr. CIA Director Leon Panetta on Trump call for Russia HRC hacking: “That’s beyond the pale,” unfit to be President pic.twitter.com/bV5rIcOr5O
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) July 27, 2016

Even Republican leaders have felt obliged to condemn Russia’s involvement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office did not mention Trump, but condemned any role for Russia in the U.S. election, with Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck saying, “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

This has been called a modern-day Watergate break-in, except that the “plumbers” are Russian.