Earlier this week, BuzzFeed reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee had begun requesting documents from the campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. The point of the document request, according to Sen. Richard Burr (R.-N.C.), was simple: They were looking for evidence of “collusion with the Russians.” The revelation follows further July requests for all communications between the Donald Trump campaign and Stein.
Thus far, there’s no evidence Stein or her campaign took funds from any Russian or Kremlin-linked actors, nor that she or her campaign, contra Trump’s campaign, sought compromising material on Hillary Clinton from any Russian operatives. As Stein said earlier this summer, “I am certainly not aware of any ties whatsoever, financial or otherwise, to the Russian government.”
Indeed, at this point, offering to send any funds to Stein would appear to be money down the drain for Moscow. By all appearance, Stein seemed more than willing to spout Kremlin talking points at every turn – and all, it appears, for free.
To be sure, Stein received a wealth of support from the Kremlin propaganda channel RT. Not only was her campaign, as NBC noted, “heavily promoted by RT,” but she opted to participate in the 2016 Green Party presidential debate, broadcast on RT. Where other Green Party candidates boycotted the debate because it was hosted on a Russian propaganda channel – one candidate described it as the “worst kind of representation of what the Green Party should be” – Stein instead lauded the hosts, describing the debate on RT as a “step towards real democracy and an inspiration for … millions of Americans.”
Of course, Stein’s most prominent moment during the presidential campaign came via RT – and through an intersection of the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. In late 2015, Stein memorably joined Michael Flynn – who recently pled guilty for lying about his interactions with Russian officials – and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow at a gala celebrating the ten-year anniversary of RT. Stein later described the attendant RT conference as “inspiring.”
Stein also shared the conference billing with Julian Assange – whom Stein in 2016 hailed as a “hero in my book,” and who, remarkably, even made a speaking appearance at the Green Party’s convention.
Stein’s visit to Moscow, along with her other odd views, sent ripples of condemnation throughout Green Party and environmentalist circles in Russia and Europe. A pair of Russian environmental activists blasted Stein publicly, saying they were “shocked by the position [she] expressed during [her] visit in Moscow.” Or as Balthasar Glättli, a Swiss Green Party member, said, “Some of the points that Jill Stein makes are delusional, I have to say.”
It remains unclear if Stein met Putin during her time in Moscow. On her website, Stein says she “met Russian President Vladimir Putin,” while she recently told Vice that she “didn’t meet” Putin. Unlike Flynn, though, Stein says she didn’t receive any funding from Moscow while she was there, turning down RT’s offer.
But Stein’s willingness to praise Russian propaganda outlets and push Kremlin talking points didn’t end in Moscow. Indeed, she challenged – and arguably surpassed – Trump in crafting the most Moscow-friendly campaign of 2016.
For instance, Stein made the strange claim multiple times that NATO had “surrounded” Russia with nuclear weapons. As she told The Intercept, “This is the Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse, on steroids – in fact, on crack.” (Less than 10 percent of Russia’s land border touches any NATO member-states.) She also said last year that NATO is only fighting “enemies we invent to give the weapons industry a reason to sell more stuff.”
Likewise, Stein claimed that Ukraine’s 2014 revolution was, in reality, a “coup” that the U.S. “helped foment.” Only two other leaders have described Ukraine’s toppling of former president Viktor Yanukovych as a “coup”: Putin and Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose country remains a security ally of Russia. Stein even spent time last year saying that “Russia used to own Ukraine.”
For good measure, Stein selected a vice presidential candidate who brought his own Russia-friendly conspiracy theories along. According to Ajamu Baraka, the destruction of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine didn’t come from Russia-backed separatists, as all evidence indicates. Rather, it was a “major false flag operation” designed “to be blamed on the Russians. And that’s exactly what has happened.”
While Stein and her campaign were pushing this kind of analysis, fake Russian Facebook accounts were likewise propping her campaign, as POLITICO uncovered in September. As one of the ads purchased by these accounts read, “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” including the #GrowaSpineVoteJillStein hashtag. The pro-Stein material also appeared on the Twitter feed of the most popular fake Russian account yet uncovered, which called on followers to “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
As for Stein herself, it appears she thinks congressional investigators won’t turn up anything nefarious between her campaign and Russian operatives. After all, as she revealed earlier this month, she’s still not convinced Moscow actually attempted to meddle in the election. As she told Vice, Stein still hasn’t seen anything to convince her “it was Russians” who attempted to interfere during the campaign.