Sign Spotted in Belgrade, Serbia on Dec. 5, 2016
(Written in Russian, Serbian and English)
Nope, back off. I don't want to hear any more about Russia hacking.
First piece here from the Washington Post, in part with my emphasis regarding this headline:
The CIA concluded that Russia worked to elect Trump. Republicans now face an impossible choice.
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
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.”
The report highlights and exacerbates the increasingly fraught situation in which congressional Republicans find themselves with regard to Russia and Trump. By acknowledging and digging into the increasing evidence that Russia helped — or at least attempted to help — tip the scales in Trump’s favor, they risk raising questions about whether Trump would have won without Russian intervention.
Trump, after all, won by a margin of about 80,000 votes cast across three states, winning each of the decisive states by less than one percentage point. So even a slight influence could have plausibly made the difference, though we'll never be able to prove it one way or another.
The cesspool the GOP is in highlighted by a few key points:
While saying that Russia clearly tried to help Trump doesn't inherently call into question the legitimacy of Trump's win —earlier Friday, the White House made sure to emphasize that it's not making that case — it's not hard to connect the dots. And Trump and his party know it. The Post's report cited Republicans who expressed skepticism about the available evidence when presented with it in September, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
From Trump himself:
But even as these probes start to materialize, Trump is singing a far different tune. In his interview with Time magazine for his “Person of the Year” award, Trump suggested that the interference could just as well have come from someone in New Jersey as from the Russian government.
“I don’t believe they interfered,” Trump said. “That became a laughing point — not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’”
Trump added: “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
Trump also maintained over and over again on the campaign trail that he wanted a better relationship with Russia and praised Putin as a strong leader — while minimizing Russia’s favoritism for his campaign. And he did all of this at a time when Putin was very unpopular in the United States and even as the evidence was pointing in the direction of Russian meddling.
In other words, Trump has shown that he's committed to seeing the best in Russia, and it's unlikely another report from the “dishonest media” citing anonymous sources is going to change his mind.
And Trump has every reason to continue to dig in. He doesn’t want to breathe any life into the story line that he owes his election to Russian interference. Trump, after all, is a winner, and the idea that someone else might have won it for him just won't fly.
Then this from the Trump Transition Team (T3 I guess we call them):
Update: Statement from T3, as expected, takes a defiant tone about this report:
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and Make America Great Again.”
The second piece is also from the Washington Post and includes a 2:37 video by Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima below. It very clear and very succinct:
A few highlights from the story we I find very interesting and relevant and reflects, I think, badly on the GOP based on this intelligence assessment statement:
“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. That’s the consensus view.” (This statement was from a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to Senators).
Back in September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.
As stated above by Trump, he says and believes: “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point — not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say: Oh, Russia interfered.” And Trump once said: “It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
The CIA shared this its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear that electing Trump was Russia’s goal.” (According to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters).
Then I conclude with this short video with remarkable background statements that should concern all of us that we must take very seriously for this is the most-serious issue we face right now.
Finally this summary from both Washington Post pieces. It is easy to see the logic they present and just as easy to see why Trump and his loyalists fail to believe, let alone even see the point. Why is that do you suppose – couldn’t be some truth in all this, could it? Shut my mouth – can’t be that, eh?
That Post Summary:
[But] For congressional Republicans, the evidence is increasingly getting to the point where they simply can’t ignore it, and some of them are feeling compelled to act — in a way that Trump isn’t likely to embrace.
Compounding the dilemma for these Republicans is that many GOP and Trump voters are disinclined to think Russia meddled in the election. A poll released Friday (December 9) by Democratic pollster Democracy Corps shows 55% of Trump voters and Republicans who did not vote for Trump say it’s probably true that stories alleging Russian interference in the election are conspiracy theories pushed by Clinton. Many Republicans are undoubtedly concerned about this.
But, as long as Trump is holding fast to the idea that this is all made up in an effort to undermine him, the whole thing could reinforce the long-standing chasm within the GOP, with him and his base pitted against establishment Republicans who will (again) be made to look like they’re trying to take down their outsider president-elect. And you can bet that’ll be how Trump pitches it.
It all presents a possibly inauspicious start for the GOP Congress in the Trump era: a potential Trump vs. congressional-Republicans-battle over the same election that surprisingly installed him as president.
So, stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by. This is not a done deal or a dead issue – not by a long shot