Make no mistake, yesterday’s Washington Post revelation that the CIA has concluded that Russia was actively looking to elect Donald Trump as against just “meddling with” the election, is a nuclear bombshell. And if the Post piece is Hiroshima, then today’s New York Times story, which adds the detail that Russian actors also hacked email accounts in the Republican National Committee but did not release those publicly as they did Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails, is Nagasaki.
Hyperbole? Think again. A foreign government may have determined the outcome of an presidential election.
And not Canada or Costa Rica, but Russia: the United States’ chief historic adversary with an oligarchy ruled by a tyrant who may have systematically taken away rights. Bombshells don’t come much bigger.
Oh, wait; yes they actually do. On top of all of the above, leaders of one of our own two political parties, I’ll allow you to hazard a guess as to what type, argued against letting the American public be familiar with all of this before the election, reportedly saying it could be too partisan. That’s not hardball politics. That’s a hair’s breath from treason.
So yes, this can be major. But let’s catch our breath. We don’t know yet for sure the allegations are true.
Both stories originated anonymous intelligence community sources, plus all such cases, the sources have to be considered. So the Obama administration along with the CIA should put this info out there publicly.
And if the evidence is persuasive, what next?
It’s tough to say. It will be easy to convince almost essentially the most purblind partisans that Russia had the intent of electing Trump. But it will be considerably more challenging to prove that Russia did in reality elect Trump. That may never be provable. Unless evidence emerges that Russia specifically altered vote counts, Republicans will almost always be able to say it was something different and transform it back on Hillary.
Good luck getting Republicans to acknowledge anything here. Mitch McConnell? Please. He’s the one who said, at the hush-hush meeting in September where administration officials urged that bipartisan number of 12 legislators go public with concerns about Russian interference in the election, which he wouldn’t participate knowning that if Democrats accomplished it, he’d tell the American people it was just partisan politics.
Think that through. McConnell, based on the Post story, showed no concern about the reality with the allegations. And bear this nugget at heart: This has not been Barack Obama attempting to persuade him to join in this bipartisan effort. This was Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism adviser; and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security secretary; and FBI Director James Comey. McConnell told Comey, basically, to go have a jump inside the lake. McConnell was interested only in party, not at all in country. That’s not treason, but it sure isn’t patriotism.
This obviously cries out for hearings as well as an investigation, or a number of them. If we lived inside a different universe, we’d ideally have a bipartisan investigation by Congress that’s honest and heavy and was capable of be finished or at best to achieve decent conclusions prior to Electoral College votes on December 19, 2016.
But that will not happen. Republicans is likely to make the Democrats do every one of the lifting here after which will cry that they’re being partisan and it’s just sour grapes. (Republican Senator John Cornyn tweeted, All this ‘news’ of Russian hacking: it has been happening for many years. Serious, but hardly news.”) But this really is a genuine crisis. The guy who got 2.8 million fewer votes to start with, and won because he took three states by lower than one percent could have managed to get over the finish line, limping while he was, which has a push from Vladimir Putin.
I know I often say “imagine if Hillary had done this,” but also in this case, it’s not a mere hypothetical. Imagine the situation were reversed, which lurid right-wing dystopic fantasy were playing out before our eyes remembering, I should note, that Trump earlier in the campaign encouraged Russia to accomplish more hacking of Clinton! What would the Republicans do? A few things, I think:
- They’d be calling the election illegitimate and would declare Clinton an illegitimate president.
- They’d ask the electors to seat Trump, citing, and properly, incidentally, the Founders’ view that electors existed for precisely this purpose.
- Noting that Clinton had (within this hypothetical) earlier egged Russia on, they could be accusing Clinton of being a representative of your foreign government; that is, of treason.
- They’d be so legally brilliant and diabolical that it’s far beyond my capacity extending its love to imagine.
And an amount rank-and-file conservatives do? Hard-shell Trumpists? Richard Spencer? The good folks at Stormfront?
What when the Democrats do? I’m not exactly sure. Demand the production in the information. Demand a real investigation, one that can be completed by December 19, 2016, once the electors meet. Pin McConnell’s ears on the wall in every way they could consider, discredit him whenever you can. Liberals groups need to agitate externally. The media must receive the message that conservatives aren’t the one those who get pissed off.
In a word: Fight. Like hell. Obama too. He’s been doing his job, ensuring the peaceful transition of power. But that is merely a custom. He didn’t swear an oath into it. He did however swear an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. That comes first.