Worst. Band name. Ever.
So the CIA has stated that Russia tried to influence the 2016 Presidential election in the hopes of ensuring that Donald Trump would win and Hillary Clinton would lose. That’s a short sentence to type, but it covers a whole lot of ground.
Would Russia hack us? Yes. Obviously. Did Russia hack us? YES. Says who? Well besides the CIA, who is tasked with the espionage thing, there is also the FBI, who is tasked with the investigation thing, Senators and Congressman, who are on committees about this sort of thing, the Washington Post, who is investigating and reporting on this sort of thing, people from the DNC, people from the GOP (with dissent), intelligence experts, computer hacking experts and, well, pretty much everyone else. You know, people who know about this sort of thing.
It’s a story that has developed all year, not just in the last few weeks. The Russians hacked us. Not just people in Russia. The Russians.
Trump and his army of hangers-on, loyalists, and even some run-of-the-mill Republicans just trying to support a Republican president are absurdly trying to deny this well-known fact. Yes, the word is fact. Russia hacked American computers, American email accounts, and probably hacked the DNC emails that made Wikileaks a great deal of fun for the last few months. (Sorry, but it was.) Not just Trumpublicans, mind you, but some average Joe Republican politicians and pundits.
These are the same Republicans who have been stomping their feet that Russia is a real threat, raising alarms about missile defense, the Ukraine and more. The same Republicans who were incensed that Romney was laughed at for calling Russia a threat. The same Republicans who have repeated ad nauseum that Wikileaks is just a publishing arm for the Kremlin. Those SAME Republicans are suddenly hedging on the idea that Russia would have the wherewithal, gumption, expertise, or motivation to hack emails to mess with our election.
Really guys? Come on, bros. You look dumb. The Russians hacked us. Even the Department of Homeland Security says so.
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.
There are things you have to remember though. The CIA is a Democrat-heavy agency (at the top) that is not above politicking. They didn’t like Bush. They like Obama. They don’t like Trump. As streiff has noted correctly and in detail here at RedState, there’s every reason to think that they’d at worst exaggerate their knowledge of specific Russian gov’t interference and motive in order to cast doubt on the validity of Trump’s election, at best make public things that should be kept secret. It’s a well-founded fear. Appointees and bureaucrats are a real thing. (See also CIA Director John Brennan, Republican-hating Obama mouthpiece.)
And that’s where the sticking point is for more reasonable people who aren’t buying this newest Red Scare. It’s the notion of the specificity of Russia’s aims.
But, and this is a big but, it’s not merely the CIA saying this. That Russia has engaged in cyber espionage is generally being reported by all of the intelligence community.
The FBI feels that the CIA does not have enough information to draw their very specific conclusion. More than fair. While it is definitely not above Russia to try to influence who is elected, there is no direct evidence that Russia did indeed make specific efforts to ensure that Putin’s would-be best friend, long-distance admirer, and kindred spirit Donald Trump was elected instead of Hillary “For Hire” Clinton. It’s entirely possible that they merely wish to sow discontent and shake America’s faith in our voting process.
Certainly the chaos that would result from the election being overturned, or even just an effort to overturn it (apply eyeroll here), based on the idea that our very institutions were compromised by a foreign power would have ample rewards for Vlad and the Gang. (Second-worst. Band name. Ever.)
Still, despite the CIA’s established antipathy to Republicans, there is a broad consensus (something that actually does matter in the field of intelligence,… think of it like multiple fire stations triangulating the location of a forest fire) that Russia engaged in cyberattacks, hacking, or cyberespionage against American institutions.
I hasten to repeat here that this is the kind of thing Russia is capable of, prone to do, and even slyly winks at doing. The fact that the CIA hasn’t produced one of those TV cop show cork boards with faces in a flow chart connected by yarn is not an indication that there is no evidence. In the field of intelligence, evidence isn’t always something you stick a thumbtack in and grimace at over a hot cup of joe in the bullpen.
Still, like almost everything this year, the lines dividing the two sides of argument on the right are thin, but visible. On the one hand, the Trump-addicted mouthpieces who will say anything in his defense, especially if it’s something he already said that they can repeat over and over like some sort of personal empowerment mantra (“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. Om mani padme Trump.”), and simply reject outright that Russia tried to influence the election.
On another hand, you have people who point out the simple fact that there’s no direct evidence that Russia et al tried to win this thing for Donald Trump. A reasonable point of view and definitely the more prudent.
Then there is another hand. This is the one I favor. Even if the Russians tried to influence or disrupt this election, even if they did it with the explicit goal of getting Donald Putin Jr. elected, even granting every possible premise the Democrats are desperately clinging to in their deplorable basket of sore-loserism, there is one question that hasn’t been answered. Was it enough to change the result?
Even if they hacked some voting machines. Even if the emails were leaked to discredit Hillary and the Democrats. Would that have swayed the election?
Unfortunately, I can’t do what I would normally do at this point, which is go to the polling data. Because A) a lot of it was just flat out wrong this year. and B) even though some of it was right, public confidence in polling results pulled a Hindenburg after Trump was elected and nobody is going to believe anything it says anyway.
So I’m just going to rely on my common sense, personal judgment, and position as an obsessed 24/7 consumer of every tiniest morsel of election news this year and say “well obviously hell no.”
NO, it just wasn’t enough. They couldn’t possibly do enough. If there was voter fraud, it wasn’t enough to change the outcome. If there was voting machine tampering, it just wasn’t enough to sway the outcome.
And as for the leaked emails being a sufficient disruption to change public opinion so substantially that Hillary lost the election because of it, I say “BWA HA HA HA HA HA.” The notion that those heavily editorialized (in her favor) tidbits of information being periodically mentioned on some of the news networks somehow altered the eventual outcome of the election, in the face of the wall-to-wall “Donald Trump is the unholy offspring of Hitler and Beelzebub” media blitzkrieg against him, is utterly laughable.
Look, I’m as keen to bash batty Donald as the next guy, but you have to be equally nuts if you think that the comparatively small amount of negative coverage Hillary was given was anything more than a drop of water in the raging sea of anti-Trump coverage. The idea that such a drop would have more impact than the sea is preposterous.
So, no. Russia didn’t hand the election to Trump. I’m fine with the investigation. I applaud it, in fact. Expose the Russkies and their machinations. Let’s out the once and future Soviets as our foes. Good. Do it. I can’t imagine why one would object.
And let’s praise both the CIA and the FBI for being on top of this. Let’s not make fools of ourselves claiming Russians didn’t mess with an election they clearly messed with.
But in the name of all that is logical, don’t try to sell us the idiotic idea that Russia turned this thing for Trump. It’s just not credible.
But then, neither are the Democrats. Trust me, I know. I saw it in their leaked emails.