On Sunday morning, Senator Rand Paul was a guest on the CNN show State of the Union with Jake Tapper. Among other things, the two discussed NATO and Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.
When it came to maintaining the integrity of U.S. elections, Senator Paul mentioned some ways he’s advocated for strengthening the process: decentralization down to the precinct level and storing data in a safe place, including a backup.
He then gave an answer that absolutely shocked the host.
SENATOR PAUL: “It’s tricky. Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways, but I think in the bottom line we’ve wanted the Russians to admit it. They’re not going to admit it the same way we’re not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukranian elections or in the Russians elections. So all countries that can spy, do. All countries that want to interfere in elections…and have the ability to do, they try.”
TAPPER: “It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election, and it might sound to some viewers that you are offering that, uh, statement as an excuse for what the Russians did?
SENATOR PAUL: “No, what I would say is it’s not morally equivalent but I think in their mind it is. And I think it’s important to know in your adversary’s mind the way they perceive things. I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections…One of the reasons they really didn’t like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the U.S. in their elections under the Obama administration…”
“I’m not saying they’re equivalent – or morally equivalent – but I am saying that this is the way the Russians respond.”
The interview went on from there.
Though the senator himself stated that election interference by the U.S. is not in any way equivalent to what was done by Russia in 2016, damage has been done.
It’s an extremely dangerous thing to place us on the same level as Russia and unfortunately, by saying “we all do it” Senator Paul has done that. Stop being an apologist.
There’s a tendency for individuals on the Right to say that because there’s no proof of actual collusion between the Trump administration and the Russians, then election meddling isn’t that serious or worse, should be shrugged off. This is a huge, partisan error. We absolutely should be bothered by election interference, even if, as Senator Paul implies, it’s expected from countries that are capable of it. And we should seek to safeguard the process, whether our candidate is victorious in the end or not.
If Senator Rand Paul was looking to smooth things over on Sunday morning, he did the exact opposite.
By not taking a hard stance on the hot-button issue of election meddling, he’s made a mess for himself and has given the president and his administration another lousy talking point.