From the first Morning Jolt of the week:
Assuming These Allegations About Russia Check Out… What Do We Do?
So, the Russian government didn’t just want to undermine public faith in the U.S. electoral process, it outright wanted to elect Trump, huh?
If the country as a whole is going to move forward from that conclusion, we’re going to have to see at least some of the evidence declassified. While many people (including myself) will find it quite plausible that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton and were willing to make mischief and unleash limited cyber-warfare to help out the candidate they preferred, this is a big, consequential charge that should have far-reaching consequences for U.S. foreign policy. We can’t just take it on faith from some anonymous sources leaking to the Washington Post.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
Presuming this all checks out, the next big question is, “What do we want to do about it?”
It will not surprise you that some Democrats have concluded that the only fair recourse is for their preferred candidate to win.
So far this weekend, I’ve received phone calls from three electors who say they have doubts that Donald Trump should be chosen by the Electoral College next week (December 19). They tell me they’ve been in contact with other electors who feel the same way.
I don’t want to get your hopes up about this. Chances are, the Electoral College will still give Trump the 270 votes he needs to become President of the United States. But I find it interesting that several electors are at least raising this question.
In my view, electors have a constitutional duty not to vote for Donald Trump. The framers of the Constitution established the Electoral College to guard against two possibilities: either that a demagogue might be elected, or that a foreign power might influence the outcome of a presidential election. Trump epitomizes both of these concerns.
Is Robert Reich speaking to Democratic electors or Republican ones? If he’s hearing from Democratic electors that they think the Republican electors ought to flip… well, duh. Of course they think there’s only one moral course of action for the electors.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill…
“To the extent that foreign interference in the United States presidential elections may have influenced the final result, I believe the electors have the right to consider that,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement to POLITICO on Saturday.
Mark Sumner declares at Daily Kos, “Even if they never touched a voting machine, there’s absolutely no doubt: Russia hacked the election,” revealing that the word “hacking” doesn’t mean anything anymore.
If Russia hawks want everyone to take this accusation seriously, then it has to sound different from the usual partisan whining that the other side cheated.
We’re witnessing the odd phenomenon of Democrats insisting that the election was hacked and the Democratic administration insisting it wasn’t. Back on November 26:
The Obama administration said it has seen no evidence of hackers tampering with the 2016 presidential election, even as recount proceedings began in Wisconsin.
“We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” a senior administration official told POLITICO late Friday.
“The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” the official added. “We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”…
The senior Obama administration official reiterated the government’s accusation that Russia had directed its hackers to go after U.S. political organizations and political operatives’ email accounts with the goal of interfering in the election.
In other words, the Russians hacked the DNC’s e-mails and John Podesta’s e-mails, but that, by itself, is not reason to question the election results. (Quick, find a voter who originally planned to vote for Clinton but shifted to Trump specifically because of either of those leaks.) Democrats who are furious about the election results are deliberately blurring the lines – suggesting that the Russian role in the cyber-break-ins amounts to a Russian role in the election results.
Assuming the evidence is as clear as the Post’s sources suggest it is, does anyone find it odd that President Obama has been so quiet about the topic? It’s been more than a month since Election Day. Yes, the president ordered a review, and he wants it done before he leaves office. But White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco told reporters not to jump to conclusions: “We’ll see what comes out of the report. There will be a report to a range of stakeholders, including Congress.” If an argument against interest is treated as more likely to be true, what are we to make about hesitation against interest?
Do you take that tone if you think the Electoral College is about to certify the wrong winner?