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Russian politician: U.S. spies slept, let Russia elect Trump

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/13/2017 William Cummings
Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov speaks with journalists before his meeting with U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden inside the terminal F of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on July 12, 2013. © Vasily Maximov, VAFP, AFP/Getty Images Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov speaks with journalists before his meeting with U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden inside the terminal F of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on July 12, 2013.

A Russian politician ridiculed the American intelligence community during a television appearance Sunday, saying it "slept through while Russia elected a new U.S. president." 

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Duma — Russia's parliament —  made the snide comment during a Sunday appearance on a Russian news program, Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.

"(To achieve world dominance) the U.S. overextended themselves," Nikonov said, according to a translation from CNN. "Because the most recent tendencies, economical, military, even tendencies in the intelligence (services) which slept through while Russia elected a new U.S. president."

"It's just ridiculous, what kind of intelligence in the USA one can even talk about?" he said. "The U.S. sagged in all these aspects for the past two decades. This superpower is losing its ability to define the world."

Nikonov's comments were first reported by Julia Davis who monitors "Russian propaganda" on her Russia Lies website. 

Nikonov served on the staff of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, Davis said. 

"Simply put, Nikonov is an established, reliable state actor, whose messaging is always in strict compliance with that of the Kremlin," Davis said. Davis theorized the comment showed the Kremlin is "reveling" in the failure of American intelligence and as a warning to Trump, who has failed to deliver on improved relations. 

CNN reported that Nikonov's tone indicated he made the comment in jest. 

University of Virginia professor Allen Lynch told The Hill that Nikonov's comments were not meant as a confession that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but were intended to mock the U.S.

"His point in making the remark was that if the U.S. can’t protect the integrity of its own electoral system, then how powerful can it really be?" Lynch told The Hill.

 

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