The first question you have to ask about the trove of some 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee is "who benefits?"

A.   Donald Trump and the Republicans

B.    Vladimir Putin and the Russians

C.   All of the Above

The correct answer is "C."

The FBI and other cybersleuths are fairly certain this was the work of Putin's KGB and GRU intelligence agencies and that they were given over to WikiLeaks to be released at the beginning of the Democratic convention this week. 

The Brookings Institution reports there are "well-documented connections" between Julian Assange's WikiLeaks and the Russian state.

WikiLeaks postings have described some of its Jewish critics as being peppered with anti-Semitic slurs, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The goal of this round of leaks – and more are expected — is to sabotage Hillary Clinton's candidacy.  Putin is smarting over what he claims has been American meddling against Russian interests since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and more recently resentment over Clinton comparing him to Hitler over the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine. And, according to the New York Times, "Assange has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency."

The Trump-Putin bromance is troubling to many.  The Russian autocrat called Trump "bright" and indicated he'd like to see the Republican win in November.  When the leaked DNC emails story broke this week, Trump denied complicity but tweeted "Putin likes me." 

Most endearing to Putin and troubling to most Republicans and Democrats alike is what they see as Trump's readiness to abandon our NATO allies.

In a far ranging foreign policy interview with the New York Times last week, Trump said that if Russia attacked the Baltic states he would first determine whether those nations "have fulfilled their (financial) obligations to us" before deciding whether to fulfill America's treaty commitments to come to their defense.

That terrifies the Baltic states, I learned on a recent visit to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  NATO is their protection against Putin trying to take their countries the way he's taken part of Ukraine to fulfill his vision of a new Russian empire.  Trump's attacks on NATO and our European allies sound to them like an invitation for Putin to move in while the US steps aside.

If Trump could so easily abandon the Baltics he could easily abandon Israel, notwithstanding campaign rhetoric about loving Israel.

Dan Schueftan of Haifa University said Trump is "a threat to the peace of the world" and his talk about abandoning NATO allies is "supreme irresponsibility."  His threat could bring Putin to the wrong conclusion about American reliability.