Is Trump’s Election Legitimate? Russian Influence Cited

Russian hackers were not only trying to undermine public confidence in our November election, they were working to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. So says the CIA in a new, secret assessment according to published reports cited by a number of news agencies. US intelligence agencies say Russian hackers were responsible for infiltrating Democratic email accounts including that of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta. The information was then given to WikiLeaks which engaged in a drip, drip, drip release of Clinton-damaging communication in the weeks leading up to the election. If true, the new assessment calls into question the legitimacy of Trump’s election win.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump, for his part, is dismissing reports that the Russians were involved in any nefarious work. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump transition team said in a statement. “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 president-elect is dismissing intelligence from the nation’s best spy agencies. This is the man who fails to take intelligence briefings more than once a week.

The Washington Post is reporting that known actors for the Russian government were responsible for the Clinton-damaging information being supplied to WikiLeaks. There is little disagreement that the WikiLeaks info played a part in Clinton’s loss.

“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.”

Former Clinton campaign official Brian Fallon tweeted what many people are now thinking.

Putin got just what he wanted: Trump as POTUS and America turning against itself over this intrusion rather than standing together vs Russia.

 It is deeply disturbing—or at least it should be—that a foreign government might have put its thumb on the scale to influence an American election, in this case in favor of Trump. (And can we at least put to rest this claim by the Trump deplorables that he won in a landslide? Clinton got almost 2.5 million more votes. The Electoral College saved Trump’s bacon.) We need to get to the bottom of this potentially catastrophic development.

The biggest obstacle to finding the answers is the cynicism of Trump supporters and Trump himself. We can be sure that if the CIA found no influence by Russian hackers on the results of the election, Trump would be setting off a tweetstorm praising the spies at the agency.

Trump backers, even when faced with evidence of an undue influence, don’t care. They didn’t care about Trump’s stunningly truth-challenged statements during the campaign or those he’s made after the election (remember the “millions of illegal votes” claims?). They didn’t care about his disgusting misogyny, bigotry against Muslims, attacks on the Pope, the handicapped or a Gold Star family. Trump supporters will believe anything he says, fake news and all. It’s sad.

In the long run, there is question about a potentially damaging rift between a Trump administration and the country’s intelligence agencies. If Trump is dismissing the work of these crucial agencies, it spells trouble for the country’s security in the future.

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