By Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine
In 2016, Vladimir Putin reaped two of his greatest foreign policy triumphs in quick succession. The United Kingdom voted narrowly to exit the European Union, advancing a longstanding Russian goal of splitting Western allies that have long been united against it. Later that year, the United States voted even more narrowly to elect Donald Trump president.
On Friday evening, the New York Times revealed new detail about Russian involvement in the Brexit vote. The more we learn, the more clearly the pattern of behavior in the two countries becomes similar, and the more suspicious the denials of Putin’s partners grows.
In both countries, the right-wing pro-Russian populists indignantly insist there is no more incriminating information to be found beyond what was known at any given moment, even as the bounds of what is known at any moment continues to expand. In Britain, billionaire businessman Arron Banks financed the Brexit referendum with the largest donation in British history. Initially, he copped to having one meeting with Russian officials. After the Guardian obtained secret documents blowing up this claim, he admitted there were actually three meetings.