<figure> <img src="https://cdni.rt.com/files/2018.08/article/5b6f4be4fc7e93fd508b45bb.jpg"> <figcaption>White nationalist protesters clash with counter-protesters in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. © Joshua Roberts / Reuters / <span class="copyright">Free</span></figcaption> </figure> <strong>A lot has happened on the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville riots. Donald Trump has said he condemns racism, his critics have criticized him and, true to form, someone in Washington found a way to blame the Russians.</strong> When there's no evidence proving Moscow was behind election-meddling or collusion, it's time to throw the <em>"Russia did it"</em> bombshell elsewhere. Congressman Tom Garrett found the perfect opportunity to do just that during a slot on CNN on Saturday.
Citing a conversation which he says he had with the director of the FBI, Garrett (R-VA) added a new chapter to the endless tome of unsubstantiated claims against Russia.
“I sat in a closed session briefing about two months ago about Charlottesville with the director of the FBI,” he told CNN. “[I] asked if Russian intermeddling had to do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville. I was told, ‘Yes, it did.’ I asked, ‘Is this information classified?’ They said, ‘No, it’s not.’”
He went on to state that “Russian intermeddling” is aiming to “pit Americans against Americans to undermine confidence in Western-style democracies,” though he failed to provide any sort of example of what Moscow supposedly did.
It’s a rather interesting claim from a lawmaker who actually met with the organizer of the ‘Organize the Right’ white nationalist rally that sparked the Charlottesville violence.
While Garrett’s comments certainly seem far-fetched, they aren’t surprising in the current political climate of Russian scapegoating. It comes after another lawmaker claimed that Russians had already penetrated election systems in some Florida counties ahead of mid-term elections – a claim that officials pushed back on, claiming they have “zero information” about whether that is the case.
And then there is, of course, the claim that Moscow supported the Black Lives Matter movement. The list of finger-pointing is long, as having actual facts is way down the list of priorities when it comes to Russia-bashing.
Garrett has been a US representative for Virginia’s 5th congressional district since May 2016, with Charlottesville being part of his constituency. He previously served in the Virginia State Senate from 2011 to 2017. In May, he and his wife were accused by former aides of treating their staff like their personal servants. Just days later, he announced he would not be seeking re-election in November, admitting he is struggling with alcoholism.
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