Lewis Morris / December 14, 2016

Russian to Judgment

Democrats’ real goal is to delegitimize Trump.

Democrats have blamed everyone but Santa Claus and their own 2016 presidential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s election loss in November. But now, with Russia as their latest scapegoat, they’re upping the ante to not only place irrefutable blame, they’re even claiming Republican candidate Donald Trump’s collusion in the affair. Their evidence is based on a flimsy claim made by an unnamed spook at the CIA.

An intelligence assessment made public by the CIA claims with certainty that Russia meddled in America’s 2016 presidential election through email hacking, cyberattacks, and good old-fashioned Cold War-style espionage. This corroborates statements by other intelligence agencies who claim to have the identity of individuals with connections to the Russians who sought to sow discord in the American electoral process during the election.

The CIA report, however, goes further by stating that the actual intent was to specifically influence the outcome of the election by leaking information that was detrimental to Clinton’s campaign, thereby boosting Trump and swinging the election in his favor.

As if working-class voters devastated by the Obama economy and slandered as “irredeemable” “deplorables” by Clinton changed their votes because Vladimir Putin told them to.

The FBI argues the Russian objective was to undermine faith in the American electoral system more generally, not to help Trump win.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) also does not share the reported CIA conclusion. While there is general agreement in the intelligence community that Russia played a nefarious role in meddling in our election process, the CIA reached its conclusion based on the fact that only Democrat information was leaked.

“It [was] a thin reed upon which to base an analytical judgment,” an ODNI official told Reuters.

The CIA often deals in the shadows, and it’s not in the habit (nor should it be) of putting specific people on public record in pulling together its reports. But other agencies that deal in intelligence, such as the FBI, operate in courts of law. They need hard evidence and corroborative testimony to make their case. Russia is not our friend, and Moscow isn’t above this sort of dirty work, but the CIA will have to do better if it’s going to lay blame for this mess at the feet of the president-elect.

Our current president hasn’t done us any favors in this regard. Barack Obama, speaking on The Daily Show — “fake news,” anyone? — said, “None of this should be a big surprise. This was reported on before the election.”

Very true, yet at that time, Obama chose to do nothing about the matter other than stump for Hillary with the information. Perhaps he, like every Democrat, believed that Clinton was going to win the election anyway. So why stir the pot? After all, the Russians weren’t really a problem, right? At least according to the Obama worldview.

Obama infamously belittled Mitt Romney in 2012 for trying to remind us that Russia was and still is a menace — our primary geopolitical foe. Obama and Clinton repeatedly misread or completely misunderstood Russian intentions in Crimea, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Syria. Heck, the Clintons cashed in for $500,000 to sell uranium to the Russians.

It should also be pointed out that during Obama’s tenure, cyberattacks against the government and the private sector have increased dramatically. Yet he has repeatedly shrugged them off as the price of doing business in the 21st century — all while his secretary of state was operating an unsecured private email server with his knowledge and participation.

If there is to be an investigation into the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, there should also be a sincere look at just what the Obama administration could have done about it. Because it appears that the president and his cronies only seem interested now that our lack of security allegedly foiled their plans to maintain power in the White House.

There will surely be congressional investigations and a public demand to learn just what the CIA and the White House knew and when they knew it. Although it seems unlikely that Clinton will get her wish to declassify the CIA report for the nation’s 538 presidential electors.

That isn’t to say we should let this one slide. We need to get to the bottom of this inexcusable meddling in our electoral process, flawed though that process may be. We won’t be doing ourselves any favors, though, if we allow Democrats to use this episode to delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency before it even gets off the ground. We may not know with certainty what goal the Russians had in mind, but we certainly do know delegitimizing Trump is what the Democrats want.

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