Liberals have been pretty vocal about foreign “attacks” on America’s democracy since Donald Trump became a political force to be reckoned with in 2016 – even if their outrage is selective and partisan.
For instance, they offer full-throated criticism of Russia’s interference – but grow deafeningly silent when it’s noted Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the only one to seek aid from Kremlin-connected operatives.
But now, the U.S. has an ally that is worried President Joe Biden will revert to the tricks in subverting democracy practiced by his last boss, former President Barack Obama.
Newsweek reported on Friday that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán believes the Biden administration will meddle in that nation’s election next spring.
Orbán seeks a fourth term in 2022, and to extend the 11-year rule of his conservative Fidesz party.
Yet Biden snubbed Orbán by not inviting him to the Summit for Democracy, an online gathering of leaders scheduled for Dec. 9 and 10.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called Biden’s action “disrespectful,” and suggested that move indicated the Biden administration would work to undermine the conservative prime minister next spring.
“We don’t live on the moon. We live in central Europe. Of course, there will be attempts” to interfere, Szijjarto told Newsweek. “We have already detected preparations. … I want to reassure Hungarians that all relevant institutions are doing their jobs to fend off external interference attempts in the elections.”
Szijjarto predicted that the U.S. would use the Magnitsky Act to sanction Hungarian leaders in the run-up to the election.
The 2012 law allows the president to slap sanctions on foreigners deemed guilty of corruption or human rights abuses. Those tagged under Magnitsky are subject to having assets held in the U.S. frozen, prohibited from conducting transactions in the U.S., and denied entry into America.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, former President Donald Trump as of October 2020 had identified 107 people for sanctions under the law.
As an example of how the law works, the report noted Taban Deng Gai, the first vice president of South Sudan, was sanctioned for allegedly arranging and directing the disappearance and deaths of a human rights lawyer and an opposition figure.
As some recent examples of how Orbán could run afoul of the Biden administration, his government has passed laws ending recognition of transgender people and banning the sharing of LGBT content with minors, as well as proposing a two-year ban on immigration.
If he needed one, Biden has to look no further for a precedent of U.S. meddling in foreign election than his former boss, Obama.
Under Obama, the U.S. helped engineer the overthrow of a duly elected leader in Ukraine in 2015, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money in an effort to defeat former Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
In 2018, the conservative group Judicial Watch said it obtained federal records that showed Obama’s State Department also meddled in elections held by Russia, Macedonia, Albania, Libya, Egypt, and Great Britain.
Obama “actively went about either destabilizing or trying to influence governments and electoral processes around the world,” Judicial Watch’s Director of Research Chris Farrell told Fox Business Channel at the time.
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