Once upon a time the Republican Party claimed to be patriotic. For instance imagine how the GOP leadership would have reacted to the news 8 years ago that Russian hackers, spies and secret agents had gotten Obama elected. Imagine how white evangelicals would have reacted to having a “communist president.” Oh, wait a moment they did call him that and lots of other things too! Now according to the CIA president-elect Trump has been put in power by Kremlin dirty tricks the GOP is on the de-facto side of the sworn enemies of America. With Trump we now have gone through the looking glass. The American right is now pro-Russian dictator and anti-American freedom.
The Washington Post is now reporting that the CIA has concluded something “widely suspected but never flatly stated by the intelligence community: that Russia moved deliberately to help elect Donald Trumpas president of the United States — not just to undermine the U.S. political process more generally.”
The Post article (I’m citing here and borrowing from as a news recap) is a bombshell: it reports officials who say they have identified individuals connected to the Russian government who gave WikiLeaks emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta. One official described the conclusion that this was intended to help Trump as “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.
If Republicans play down the issue, they risk giving a pass to an antagonistic foreign power that significant majorities of Americans and members of Congress do not trust and which, if the evidence is accurate, wields significant power to wage successful cyberwarfare with the United States.
Already, House Democrats have begun pushing for something akin to the 9/11 Commission to look into allegations of Russian meddling. During the campaign, they pushed for hearings on the same issue.
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.
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.
A statement from Trump’s transition team, took a defiant tone about The Post’s 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.’”
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.
Meanwhile I wonder how the white evangelical voters and their leaders will feel about having been shills for the Kremlin’s candidate? Did Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr., ever foresee they’d be working for a Russian dictator against American interests? And what of Trump’s military cabinet picks? Is this what they teach Marine generals these days? I think not. …
P.S. If you want to know a little more about where I’m coming from and my perspective on politics, religion and the intersection of faith and life– here’s a new movie about me. (It’s below the poster on YouTube) scroll down and watch it for free…