Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

There is no doubt: Russia interfered in our presidential election

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Jennifer Rubin has a good column on yesterday’s hearing:

For months, President Trump has been calling the Russia investigation “fake news.” He has insisted that China or some other country could have been behind the hack of Democratic Party organizations’ computers and the effort to meddle in our elections. In his eyes, it’s all a plot to undermine him, and he is “vindicated” when it was confirmed that at the time former FBI director James B. Comey left the FBI, there was no investigation with his name on it.

Contrast that with this line of questioning from Thursday’s hearing:

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-N.C.): Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple-C systems [the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director, I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

In that same vein, Comey explained how definitive was the information:

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D-N.M.): The president has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election cycle as a hoax and fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and, obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place?

COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high-confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community, and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

HEINRICH: That is a hostile act by the Russian government against this country?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

One simply cannot square the president’s persistent public assertions that the Russia investigation was “fake news” or a “hoax” with such a definitive assessment from the former FBI director and the rest of the intelligence community. This raises the question as to why Trump kept suggesting that the Russians couldn’t be fingered.

Perhaps Trump knew that Russia was responsible (everyone in the intelligence community told him it was beyond dispute) but lied to the American people so as to convince them that he really, really won. Maybe Trump is unable to process facts or think logically, preferring rumors, conspiracy theories and the like. In other words, maybe he honestly did not understand what was going on.  Then again, Trump — if he was trying to remain in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s good graces — could have simply been covering for the former KGB lieutenant colonel. Whatever the reason, he persistently told the public an obvious falsehood, pretending that there had been no assault on American democracy. He needs to explain this disparity.

It is also possible that Trump and the intelligence community were talking past one another. Trump thinks of the Russia investigation as a “cloud” over him. If the story was that Trump personally colluded with Russia, then it had to be “fake news.” That, after all, was the reason he was frantic to have Comey clear his name. This truly is a case in which Trump considered the “Russia investigation” to be only about him.

The intelligence community and Comey, specifically, were of course definitive about an attack on American democracy. Comey declared:

The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.

That entire concept — the threat to democracy, the danger to our system of government, the violation of American self-government by a hostile power — seems to mean nothing to Trump. It’s a non-issue. What more evidence do we need that Trump cannot fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”? Trump’s psyche is geared to “preserve, protect and defend” Trump. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 11:36 am

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