Apparently it wasn’t a hoax after all!
Throughout the chaos that has continuously emanated from this White House, there is one message that has remained steadfastly clear. That any assertion that the Russians meddled in our election for the purpose of helping Trump is inherently false. That the Russian investigation is a witch hunt; a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats to explain away their unexplainable defeat in the 2016 presidential election.
Friday, the Department of Justice issued a damning repudiation of that narrative.
Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the federal grand jury handed down indictments against 13 Russian individuals and 3 Russian business concerns for engaging in a criminal conspiracy to interfere in our democratic process. In story telling fashion the 37 page indictment lays out in extraordinary detail how beginning in 2014 the Russians worked toward: “a strategic goal to sow discord in the political system, including the 2016 presidential election.” Rosenstein detailed a sophisticated multi-million dollar operation in which Russian operatives used fake identities and stolen bank accounts to appear to be American political activists. Through the use of hundreds of social media accounts, false political ads and political rallies the Russian operatives spread disinformation designed to disparage Hillary Clinton and promote candidates they believed to be more in line with Russian political interests. In 2016 the Russian operation shifted its efforts toward assisting Donald Trump.
Rosenstein made a point to note that “THIS” indictment included no findings of collusion on the part of any American individuals nor did “THIS” indictment make any determination that the Russian operation had any impact on the 2016 election results.
In normal times we would expect our president to respond forcefully to what has clearly been revealed to be covert foreign espionage operation by a hostile power orchestrated with malicious intent to undermine our democracy. We would expect our president to praise the intelligence community for its outstanding efforts in uncovering the plot. We would expect our president to condemn the hostile operation, promise swift justice and a proportionate response and promise to take every necessary step to make certain such an intrusion never happens again.
But these are not normal times and Donald Trump in not a normal president. The narcissist that occupies the oval office responded via twitter in the self-aggrandizing manner that we have come to expect:
“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong-no collusion.” This the beginning of 13 post presidential tweet storm focused specifically on the personal defense of one Donald Trump.
No personal appearance from the Oval Office. No outrage over the Russian meddling. No patriotic call to arms. No promise to keep the country safe. No praise for the hard working individuals in the intelligence community who continued to professionally do their jobs in spite of this president’s contestant criticism. Just another self promoting litany of misrepresentations and false assertions.
Trump would have us believe that because the Russian operation began in 2014 it could not have impacted his 2015-2016 campaign run. An absurd claim absent any basis in fact.
Trump’s assertion that the Russian operation did not impact the election is absurd at best and a fraudulent effort to distract us from the truth at worst. We will never know what impact the tsunami of false information perpetrated by the Russians had on the election. Rosenstein rightly pointed out that no such magical prognosticative powers exits in the DOJ. But to have an election decided by only 170,000 targeted rust belt votes out of 130 million cast causes one has to wonder.
In spite of his obviously defensive efforts to distract, Trump is correct on one account…the indictments did not include any findings of collusion on the part of the Trump campaign nor any findings that the election results were impacted by the Russian operation. Rosenstein was clear that THIS indictment does not include any such findings. However what Trump fails to mention is that the absence of any culpability in this particular filing doesn’t mean that such findings and indictments will not be forthcoming in the future. For it is important to note that missing in these indictments are any statements of exoneration of anyone. Nor did they offer any indication that…in spite of the president’s false assertions…the investigation had reached its conclusion.
What we have here is clear evidence that the Russians attempted to subvert our democracy and the first public acknowledgement…however grudgingly offered…by the president that the meddling occurred. What we do not have is any sense that this president has any intention of taking any steps to assure us that it will never happen again.
We can however take some comfort from the knowledge that the fine men and women in the intelligence community…in spite of unjustified withering criticism from the president…continue to look out for our best interests. It is perhaps the first public evidence of such professionalism and patriotism in the last two years. If only we could find a glimmer of such behavior from within the Oval Office.
Having now learned the extraordinary extent to which the Russians attempted to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump we are left with an even more puzzling question.
Why would the Russian government engage in such a massive multi-year, multi-million dollar covert operation to put Donald Trump in the Oval Office?