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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Republican Party sources in Pennsylvania say this week’s indictment of six Russian military intelligence officers for cyber-warfare operations in the Ukraine, Georgia, the UK, and South Korea is a highly effective political advertisement for the local US Attorney,  Scott Brady, 51, (lead image, right). The sources say Brady is running to become the Republican candidate to be the next state governor or senator in 2022.

The timing of Brady’s announcement this Monday was driven, the sources say, by the withdrawal of the incumbent Republican senator Pat Toomey, reported on October 4; and by Brady’s calculation that, win or lose in Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump will lose the national election on November 3. When that happens, and until Inauguration Day on January 20, Brady will have to resign his post for replacement by the incoming Democratic president.

“The Republican nominations for governor and senator are wide open,” a well-known state Republican attorney says. “Brady comes from a Trump county in the west; his reputation in Pittsburgh is that of a Trump loyalist. If he’s the only Republican candidate from the west of the state, he stands a good chance of splitting the eastern county votes and winning the party primary. By making this indictment of the Russians public now, he’s drawing enormous free advertising of his credentials for the race – if Trump wins next month, and especially if Trump loses.”

Brady’s case against six officers of the GRU is unique in laying charges against Russian Army soldiers for espionage, computer hacking and cyber disruption operations on battlefields outside the US, where Russia is under attack from US and NATO forces. For details and analysis, read this.  

The allegations were filed in Pittsburgh, at the US federal district court for Western Pennsylvania,  on October 15, and unsealed for the press on Monday.  The region centering on Pittsburgh concentrates leading US computer engineering firms and Carnegie Mellon University, whose consultants have reportedly been advising the prosecutors and FBI investigators.

Source: https://www.justice.gov/

According to Brady, he had been at work on the case against the Russian Army since 2018. “For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption and destabilization, representing the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks in history. The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm.  We have an obligation to hold accountable those who commit crimes – no matter where they reside and no matter for whom they work – in order to seek justice on behalf of these victims.”

Washington lawyers acknowledged that the indictment publicity will be the only result the prosecution will achieve because it’s unlikely the Russians accused will ever be caught outside Russia and brought to trial in Pittsburgh. “The government learned from its mistakes in the Concord case where a corporate entity was charged with similar cyber-warfare operations,” a US attorney explained. In that case, Concord was able to enter a plea and retain US lawyers without having to expose individuals to arrest and prison. The defence lawyers then pressed for disclosure of the US espionage evidence against the Russians. When that was withheld, the case collapsed. For details of the Concord story, read this.

Republican party sources in the state say that Brady’s job has been a political launch platform since Dick Thornburgh, a native of Pittsburgh, was appointed by President Richard Nixon as the US Attorney for Western Pennsylvania in 1969; he was 37 at the time. Thornburgh continued in that office until 1975, when he was promoted to Assistant Attorney-General in Washington, and then returned to the state to win the governorship in 1979. Thornburgh held that  post until 1987, and was then promoted by President Ronald Reagan to be the US Attorney-General between 1988 and 1991.

Left to right: Attorney-General Dick Thornburgh; Senator Pat Toomey; Governor Tom Wolf.

Two of the top state political posts, senator and governor, will be up for election in November 2022. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, first elected in 2014 with a 10% margin and re-elected in 2018 with 18 points, cannot run again. Republican Senator Pat Toomey first won his Senate seat in 2010 and again in 2016. At the start of this month, Toomey announced that he would not run for a third term and was retiring from politics.

Brady comes from several generations of blue-collar workers in Allegheny and Mercer counties in the west of the state.  Mercer is Trump country – in the presidential election of 2016, Mercer voted two to one for Trump. Brady’s backing for Trump was rewarded by his nomination as US Attorney for Western District in November 2017. The post is presidential patronage; when the president changes, the attorney is replaced.

Brady had to promote himself quickly, according to a Republican source. “The Russian indictment is his first move. The local politics are the reason for the move. He will be campaigning for the party primary votes as Trump’s man, and also the man who’s stood up to the  Russians.”

Pennsylvania polls indicate that the margin for candidate Joe Biden ahead of Trump is far from certain, and the momentum in the last days may be in Trump’s favour.  

Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

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