The company President-elect Donald Trump keeps is troubling to say the least. From the mundane (national security pick Monica Crowley is accused of plagiarism in her latest book) to the disturbing (his ties to mob figures), to the dangerous (Putin). But perhaps none is more disturbing than his choice of who Trump believes on national security issues: the US intelligence community or Julian Assange.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly invoked Assange’s Wikileaks website as proof that Hillary Clinton was not trustworthy, the Democrats were devious and the Russians should try to find missing US emails.
Let’s be clear: Assange is a hacker first and foremost; a character of the most troubling kind. His “career” first consisted of breaking into Australian and US government agencies. He then graduated to Wikileaks where he published the work of other hackers.
Along the way, it became clear Assange’s criminal activity was not confined to the computer. In 2010, he visited Sweden where upon his departure, he was accused of sexual assault by two women. He denies the charges. He retreated to the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he remains. He won’t leave, fearing extradition to the US to face charges stemming from his release of highly classified material.
Assange would be just another Edward Snowden-like coward if it was not for Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential election. But the New York b[m?]illionaire repeatedly turned to Assange and Wikileaks, highlighting them every time a new cache of stolen emails was released.
Trump’s sycophantic, right-wing journalists like has-been, desperately-trying-to-stay-relevant Sean Hannity, are trying to give Assange cover and credibility. How many other accused rapists would get an “exclusive” interview with Hannity?
Trump says he doubts Vladimir Putin and Russia were behind the Clinton-damaging Wikileaks information because Assange says they weren’t. Huh? Does he think we’re really that stupid?
In essence, Trump has decided to believe Assange over the vast network of US intelligence agencies that unanimously agree Putin and Russia were indeed responsible for the hacking of Democratic email accounts. That should trouble all Americans.
The intelligence community also says there is no direct evidence that the Russian hacks swayed the results of the election. There was no hacking of voting machines. But because there is no direct evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Trumpers seem to have difficulty distinguishing between the hacks by Russia and whether they actually lead to an illegitimate result. If we assume for the sake of argument that the election would have gone Trump’s way simply because Clinton was an awful candidate and people didn’t trust her, that doesn’t negate the fact that Russia at the very least tried to influence an American election—a direct assault on the basic tenets of our Democracy.
Continuing to doubt what the intelligence community has affirmed leads one to believe that maybe Trump himself doesn’t believe he could have won without the Russian hacks and the subsequent release of information by Wikileaks. It does indeed look bad. Trump and VP-elect Mike Pence both said during the campaign that Putin was a stronger leader than President Obama. Trump has signaled a strong desire to be Putin’s pal. Russians hacked into Democratic email accounts. Wikileaks published the information.
Do the math. It’s not that tough.