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Fact Check: Was Trump ‘Installed’ as President in 2016?
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Fact Check: Was Trump ‘Installed’ as President in 2016?

No, contrary to an MSNBC contributor’s claim.

MSNBC show The Cross Connection featured a guest Saturday who claimed that former President Donald Trump was “installed as the president of the United States in order to weaken the alliances that were preventing Putin from achieving his goals.”

The guest, Sarah Kendzior, is a journalist and academic, whom The Cross Connection described as a “scholar of authoritarian states.” She is the author of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America.

Despite Kendzior’s suggestion, there is no evidence that Russia “installed” Trump as president. The 2016 election has been thoroughly investigated, and just like in 2020, conspiracy theories about the election were found wanting. 

Intelligence agencies determined that Trump was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate in the 2016 presidential race, and that Russia had used propaganda, cyberattacks, and disinformation to try to influence the American public. But while the Russian government may have attempted to change public opinion, there is no evidence it “installed” Trump through manipulating the election itself. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee determined that while Russia had targeted the election systems in all 50 states, there was no evidence that any votes were changed. A House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report said the same: Russia “sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process,” but that it had not manipulated the results of the vote. 

Kendzior did not respond to a request for comment.

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Alec Dent

Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.