Thursday, July 25, 2024

Trump shooting plays into Russia, China plans to divide US ahead of elections


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The assassination attempt on presidential hopeful Donald Trump over the weekend grabbed global attention as leaders, diplomats and dignitaries alike expressed their shock over what many said was an attack on democracy. 

Questions have mounted regarding the Secret Service’s security failures and conspiracy theories have already begun to circulate across social media platforms – chaos that security officials agree plays right into the hands of the U.S.’s chief adversaries.

“They always look for opportunities to exploit our vulnerabilities,” Dan Hoffman, former CIA Moscow station chief told Fox News Digital. “It’s our greatest strength, our democracy, but to them it’s also a vulnerability because it plays out for all of us to see.

“They’ll weaponize this against us,” he added in reference to the Saturday shooting that took place during a Trump rally in Pennsylvania.

Secret Service agents surround former President Trump onstage at a rally on July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pennsylvania. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)


Nations like Russia and China have long been known to employ soft-war tactics against the U.S. through disinformation campaigns, malware attacks and election interference – all of which are intended to deepen divisions and break down societal trust in Western institutions.

Hoffman said Russia will likely stoke distrust among agencies like Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the FBI by pushing conspiracy theories and playing in to people’s anger.

“They want to divide this country and make Democrats and Republicans hate each other,” he added. “They want us not to trust our democratic institutions.”

Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intel officer specializing in Russian doctrine, echoed Hoffman’s warnings and explained that roughly a decade ago Moscow assessed the societal vulnerabilities mounting in the U.S. and has continued to act on it since.

Biden, Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping

Russian President Vladimir Putin, former President Donald Trump, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Getty Images)

“They saw signs of a society fracturing along various lines,” she said, pointing to political, religious and ethnic divisions persistent in the U.S. 

Koffler explained that just as Washington has deemed Moscow a chief security concern, Russia has also declared the U.S. and the NATO alliance its “number one” security threat. 

“The Russians decided to ‘help’ fracture our society and drive it to that point of social unrest and civil war,” she added. “And that’s what we saw, election interference and things of that nature.”

“The assassination attempt just confirmed to them that that is an achievable goal,” Koffler added. 

Like Moscow, Beijing is also keeping an eye on the U.S. election and any potential unrest that may play into the Chinese Communist Party’s [CCP] narrative of countering democratic values. 

Heino Klinck, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia and military attaché to China, pointed to the CCP’s immediate portrayal of the assassination attempt among its state-controlled media.

Trump supporters are seen covered with blood in the stands

Trump supporters are seen covered with blood in the stands after shots were fired during the campaign event in Butler, Pennsylvania, July 13, 2024. (Rebecca Droke/AFP via Getty Images)

“They’re spinning this, and they are spinning it from the perspective of American democracy is chaotic,” he told Fox News Digital. “It is unsafe, it is violent, it is unstable – with the implication being for the Chinese populace, our system is much better.”

While Russia may look to utilize the apparent instability in the U.S. to further weaken American faith in democracy, China will attempt to use it for its geopolitical aims.

“The Chinese government will utilize this both for foreign audiences, as well as for the Chinese domestic consumption,” Klinck said. “The Chinese government tries to juxtapose itself as a partner for other countries… particularly in the global south.”

“I think what they are going to do is say that Beijing is a much more reliable, a more stable [partner] than the United States.”


Klinck said the CCP’s messaging could be effective when employed against nations with authoritarian leanings.

The China expert said it is not just U.S. democracy that is under threat from attack and pointed to the 2022 assassination of former Japanese Prime Minster Shinzō Abe, who was shot while speaking at a political event, as well as the May shooting of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico following a government meeting.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is rushed offstage

Former President Trump is rushed offstage on July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pennsylvania. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Recent reporting following the assassination attempt on Trump has suggested that there is growing concern that instability in the U.S. could lead to instability among other Western nations

“The assassination attempt has been met with revulsion across the world and as an attack on American democracy. I do think there is tremendous concern about what has happened and a sense of real shock,” Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told Fox News Digital.


But Gardiner also said he believes Trump’s reaction immediately following the shooting “is a demonstration that democracy in America will not be destroyed by the forces of terror.”

“Trump’s response will actually reassure America’s allies that democracy in the United States will not be defeated. It remains strong,” he added. 

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