Violence mars Mexico vote as country prepares to elect first woman president

Trump’s attacks on the US justice system following his conviction could be used by autocrats, experts say

Following his historic guilty verdict in the silence case, Donald Trump attacked the US criminal justice system, making baseless allegations of a “rigged” trial that echoed Kremlin remarks.

“If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” Trump said Friday, speaking from his namesake tower in New York on Friday. Thousands of miles away, Russian President Vladimir Putin was probably “rubbing his hands with joy,” said Fiona Hill, a former senior White House national security adviser to three U.S. presidents, including Trump.
Hill and other analysts say Trump’s attacks could serve Putin and other autocrats as they seek to strengthen their position among their own citizens, potentially influencing the upcoming U.S. presidential election in which Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermining the global stability of the United States. influence.
Some autocratic countries reacted quickly in support of Trump.
Moscow agreed with Trump’s assessment of Thursday’s verdict, calling it “the elimination of political rivals by all possible legal or illegal means,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. In September, Putin said Trump’s trial was political revenge that “shows the rot of the American political system.”
After the verdict, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called Trump a “man of honor” and urged him to “keep fighting.”
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times suggested that Trump’s conviction adds to the “farcical nature” of this year’s US presidential election, adding that it will exacerbate political extremism and lead to “more chaos and social unrest”.
Putin is especially likely to view the latest unrest as an opportunity, analysts say. He has long sought to widen divisions in Western societies in an effort to promote a Russian worldview. Since invading Ukraine, and ahead of this year’s crucial elections across the West, Russia has been accused of carrying out multiple sabotage attacks and targeting dissidents abroad to stoke anxieties and sow discord.
Moscow has been accused of meddling in the 2016 US election won by Trump by creating a troll factory, hacking Hillary Clinton’s campaign, spreading fake news and trying to influence officials linked to Trump.
“What harm must it do when there are people within the American system itself who denigrate it and tear it down?” Hill said of Putin.
Political chaos can benefit autocratic leaders by distracting Washington from key issues, including the war in Ukraine. Russia’s goal is to move voices from the “fringes of political debate to the mainstream,” said David Salvo, managing director of the Alliance for Ensuring Democracy at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, DC.
The Kremlin does this in part by pushing Russian viewpoints under the guise of news reports and social media posts that appear to originate in the West.
Salvo noted that disagreements in Congress that delayed an aid package to Ukraine followed a Russian social media campaign aimed at Americans. This led to Russia gaining the upper hand on the battlefield.
Attacks on the American justice system by Trump and his allies are “perfect fodder” for another “major propaganda and influence operation,” Hill told the Associated Press, suggesting Russia could be targeting voters undecided in battleground states ahead of the November election.
For generations, U.S. presidential administrations have portrayed America as a bastion of democracy, free speech and human rights and have encouraged other states to adopt those ideals. But Trump has suggested that the justice system is being used to persecute him, which happens in some autocratic countries.
Leaders, including Putin, “must love” the fact that Trump is criticizing “key institutions of democracy” in the way autocratic states have done for years, so as to legitimize them in the eyes of their own people, Graeme Robertson said , professor of political science at the University of Washington. North Carolina to Chapel Hill.
Trump considers himself a “strongman ruler” and looks to Putin for inspiration, Hill said. His attacks encourage any nation – from those with mild resentment to those openly hostile – to “have their moment to take down the behemoth,” Hill said.
The message to Chinese and Russian citizens watching the drama unfold in the United States is that they are better off at home. The message to countries that Russia and China are courting as they seek to expand their influence in Africa, Asia and Latin America is that Moscow and Beijing can offer more reliable partnerships.
The threat from the “new authoritarian axis,” which includes Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, is “daunting,” as these states work closely with overlapping interests, said Matthew Kroenig, a former defense official and vice president of Atlantic Council. Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.
Moscow in particular, Kroenig said, will likely seek to exploit the political turmoil in the United States to divide the NATO security alliance. It could try to turn public opinion in NATO states against the United States by encouraging them to ask whether they have “shared values” with Americans, he said. If successful, this could lead to a fundamental reshaping of the global security architecture – a goal of Russia and China – since the end of the Cold War.
Some Western governments, meanwhile, are caught in a delicate dance between not wanting to ostracize Trump as the potential next US president and the need to respect the US justice system. Others, such as EU member Hungary, openly court it.
“For Putin it has to be perfect because it creates chaos that he can try to take advantage of,” Hill said.

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