Over the past several months there has been widespread speculation in the some of the media and among Dems that Russia, and more specifically, Putin, interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Some have even accused President Trump, certain of his supporters and/or members of his campaign staff with collusion with the Russians in this matter, implying that his election victory is therefore invalid. Over these several months this matter has been investigated like nothing else since Watergate (by Dems, reporters, Congressional panels, and a special prosecutor), and, to paraphrase former President Obama, not a “smidgeon” of evidence has been unearthed to support that notion.
Give it up, Dems. Donald Trump is our duly elected president. He will not be impeached. He will serve the full four years, and, maybe, even eight. Focus on the important issues facing America, like the economy, jobs, border security, and terrorism, among others.
That said, as an unintended consequence of all this sleuthing, evidence has recently surfaced supporting the notion that Russia did, in fact, attempt to influence the election by hacking into our voting systems. But, any issues of wrongdoing involve not Donald Trump, but President Obama. This story was “broken,” not by Fox News, not by Rush Limbaugh, but by the Washington Post, a notorious left-leaning publication and avowed Trump-hater.
Three Post reporters, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous, contributed to a very comprehensive report on Russian meddling. Subsequently, their story was picked up by several news outlets (including Newsday). The following is a summation of their reporting:
- It began in August 2016 when the CIA delivered an “eyes only” report so sensitive that it was to be read by just four people – President Obama and three senior aides. The report described Russian president Putin’s direct involvement in a comprehensive plan to disrupt and possibly discredit the 2016 presidential election. More specifically, Putin was seeking to damage, and possibly defeat, Hillary Clinton.
- Apparently, Putin and Russian intelligence services had directed hackers to penetrate Dem and GOP computer networks with the intention of uncovering embarrassing or damaging information. As we know, they succeeded in penetrating the Dems systems, but not the GOP’s. Approximately, 22,000 emails of various Dem officials were obtained and provided to WikiLeaks, which subsequently publicized them.
- Around this time, as a result of the above mentioned report President Obama directed aides to assess the vulnerabilities of our election systems.
- At one point, CIA Director John Brennan warned Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Russia’s primary security agency, not to interfere in the presidential election.
- Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson offered federal assistance to each state to secure their respective voting systems, but election officials in many states, fearing federal overreach, rebuffed him.
- For the next five months the Administration secretly analyzed the CIA report and debated various options for deterring the Russians plans as well as various alternative sanctions. By September all the intelligence agencies agreed that it was a Russian operation led by Putin directly, and sanctions were appropriate.
- The plot was not disclosed to the public, however, until the end of 2016. During the autumn Obama had given a few speeches in which he mocked Trump and his supporters for suggesting the election was being “rigged,” or even influenced, by Russia and other external parties and flat-out denied that was the case, even though he knew it was true. Depending on one’s point of view, in this regard Obama was either lying or at least being disingenuous to the American people.
- One of the major reasons for the Administration’s maintaining secrecy was its staunch belief that Clinton would win anyway, so why “rock the boat” before the election. The thought was to deal with it after she wins. In my opinion, this constituted seriously faulty judgment as Obama allowed political considerations to affect his policy regarding a threat on our national security.
- Ultimately, the Obama Administration decided to impose very modest sanctions. It had a plethora of choices, including very serious economic sanctions that would have dealt a severe blow to the Russian economy. It is generally acknowledged that economic sanctions are an extremely potent weapon, and we have the wherewithal to cripple Russia’s economy if we choose to do so. Instead of using this weapon, we merely deported 35 “diplomats” and closed two compounds. These sanctions served no effective purpose. They were merely “window dressing.” Indeed, John Tefft, the ambassador to Russia predicted that Russia would retaliate by expelling a like number of US diplomats from Russia, which would “impair the embassy’s ability to function.” A senior administration official involved in the process derisively labeled them as merely “symbolic.” Even worse, these sanctions were not new. They had been proposed for a different purpose, which was retaliation for Russia’s harassing local US diplomats.
- Before he acted, Obama (1) requested a “high-confidence assessment” from the various intelligence agencies as to Russia’s intent and (2) sought bipartisan support from congressional leaders. This weak and delayed response was very widely criticized, even among Dems, as not being nearly proportionate to Russia’s “unprecedented” attack on our election process. For example, Senator Adam Schiff stated the Administration’s indecisiveness “often left him with a sense of ‘cognitive dissonance.’ ” In addition, Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia under Obama, opined “the punishment did not fit the crime. ……Russia violated our sovereignty, meddling in one of our most sacred acts as a democracy…” McFaul’s view was consistent with that of dozens of current and former officials in the White House and Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security Department, and intelligence services who declined to speak on the record for the Post article.
- This action, though puzzling to many, was entirely consistent with Obama’s overly cautious, some would say “timid,” approach to foreign policy during his presidency. Act only if you absolutely have to and only if backed by a consensus of support from allies both foreign and domestic; don’t rock the boat; and don’t make the situation worse.
Well, we all know what happened. Trump won, and there were no issues with the election process. Nine months and many investigations later, still nothing untoward has turned up – no voter fraud, no manipulations; the system did not “crash.” In the White House the post-election mood was “like a funeral parlor,” according to one official.
The irony of this whole matter is that in their zeal to tie President Trump to collusion with Russia the Dems have created an atmosphere where reporters and others have been diligently digging for the “big Watergate-like story.” Instead, what these reporters found was collusion, lying and incompetence on the part of President Obama.
History tells us that during his second term, with no more elections to worry about, presidents typically become more cognizant of their legacy and become loath to do anything to damage it. The fear among Obama and his senior aides was that his mishandling of this matter would inevitably get disclosed and do just that. History will determine if that is the case.