Last Friday, your incoming President elect – President Kumquat, as I like to call him – received the same classified briefing from the intelligence community that our outgoing President – let’s call him President Obama – had received a day earlier.
Naturally, while conceding that the conversation was “constructive” and alleging that he had “tremendous respect” for the intelligence community, the Donald still was not able to concede that Russian hacking had a major impact on our election.
It may have been decisive, although at this point that is frankly hard to prove.
In the coming months we’re going to be talking a lot about Narcissistic Personality Disorder – of which the Donald has an unusually extreme case. Maximum cognitive dissonance. This severe case causes him to believe – and to proclaim publicly – that he beat Hillary Clinton “badly,” when the truth is that he barely beat her at all. And without Russian intervention, he would have had no chance.
As is by now well known, he lost the popular vote to Hillary by almost 3 million votes. No person has ever lost this many votes and still managed to win the electoral college. Even Al Gore only exceeded George W. by about 500,000 votes. These vote totals are completely unprecedented for a winning candidate.
Now, the intelligence community –comprised of principally the Central Intelligence Agency Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA), as well as a dozen lesser known and less important agencies – has issued a “public” version of their classified report, which can be downloaded through the Star Tribune website, among several others.
The intelligence community concluded the following:
- Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.
- Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”
- We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.
The intelligence community report specifically states that it’s not making an assessment relative to the domestic political impact of the Russian hacking, which is essentially beyond the scope of what our intelligence agencies do.
Nevertheless, President-elect Kumquat (and his minions) have concluded that there was “no impact” from the Russian hacking.
Politifact found this claim to be so unlikely that they actually wrote a piece on this issue, and (naturally) found the Donald’s claim to be almost completely wrong.
The only part of the claim where the Donald is correct is that the intelligence community did not find evidence of direct hacking into voting machines and systems on the part of the Russians. In other words, the Russians didn’t, for example, hack into the voting machines of particular counties in Wisconsin to give Trump his razor-thin win in Wisconsin.
However, the drip-drip months-long leak of DNC and Clinton campaign emails, which the Russians provided to WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks obligingly passed along, certainly could have had enough of an impact to swing Wisconsin. And Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Can this be proven at the moment? No, unfortunately.
And James Comey’s incredibly bone-headed decision to re-open the investigation into Hillary’s email server (a dead issue that had no meat to it to begin with) because of the few emails they found in the Anthony Weiner investigation – now there’s a guy that should literally be strung up by the balls – demonstrably moved poll numbers against Clinton in the last week before the election.
As I’ve said before, if it were me – and admittedly, I am a rational human being – I would be enormously humble if I were in the Donald’s place. Instead of preening about how I beat Hillary “badly,” I would be concerned about how to restore faith for the almost 3 million more voters who preferred my opponent, and how I could restore faith in the American democratic system after such an obvious disruption by our former mortal enemies, the Russians.
But the Donald’s überfragile ego does not allow him to recognize the realities as they are, and his emotional constitution apparently does not allow him to be humble. The word humble simply is not in the man’s emotional vocabulary. So he will keep repeating the lie that he beat Hillary Clinton “badly” and that Democratic opposition is just sour grapes, but nobody outside of his (largely deluded) supporters will believe him.
 The intelligence community is worried about upcoming elections in Germany and France, among others, and the degree to which the Russians will seek to undermine the cohesiveness of Europe in general and of the European Union in particular.
 We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.
 As stated by Politifact, “Despite some concern among security experts going into the election that Russia might hack into state and local vote-counting systems and tamper with the tallies, the intelligence community report found that any such efforts by Russia were not successful in changing any votes. The report says that while ‘Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,’ the Department of Homeland Security ‘assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.’
Your contempt for Trump (which I share) is leading you to buy into government propaganda here. That Russia provided hacked e-mails to WikiLeaks is not proven. It is merely an intelligence “assessment”, like WMD in Iraq. If there was proof we’d be shown it. In any event, the allegation sidesteps the point that it was the undisputed content, not the source, of the e-mails that damaged Clinton. And has the US has not interfered much more egregiously in elections in other states, as well as engineering regime change by instigating coups and by military intervention?
I have to disagree with you this time Jakester. It was not the content of the emails that damaged Hillary, which almost no one read. For those who did bother to read her emails, they reported almost universally that she came off as likable and concerned about her staff. And maybe a bit unsophisticated about technology. No, the media kept implying that there were bad things in Clinton’s emails — in this sense they collaborated with Trump and the Russians — and that was enough to bring her poll numbers down.
Also, from whom do you think WikiLeaks got all those emails, if not from the Russians?
I second the defense of the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia provided the hacked emails to Wikipedia. The fact they can’t name their source due to security issues shouldn’t prevent us from believing their stated conclusion. And as someone who actually read many of the hacked emails, I can also say the emails were generally misrepresented. The headlines screamed evil deeds that were not supported in the text of the emails. It was not the hacked content that cost Hillary the election, but the continued and unrelenting coverage of it, some of which was fake and most of which was incomplete.
As to the source, I wonder why you discount the assertions by Julian Assange and his associate Craig Murray that the e-mails were leaked not hacked, and were not obtained from the Russians. They suggest that the DNC leak came from a Sanders sympathiser annoyed at the DNC’s undermining of Sanders’ campaign and that the Podesta leak came from within the U.S. intelligence community, which was monitoring Podesta due to his Saudi links. Whether or not these assertions are true, I would have thought they were enough to lead a self-professed skeptic to question the version promulgated by the government. As to the content, the Podesta e-mails exposed Clinton’s Wall St connections, and the dealings of the Clinton Foundation with foreign governments. This reinforced a widespread public perception that Clinton has a tendency to be economical with the truth. Did this not damage the Clinton campaign?