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Among the many public comments for which New York businessman Donald Trump, now President-Elect of the United States, has been attacked since he began his quixotic campaign for the highest elected office in the land has been his purportedly scripted (and intended to be humorous) comment that he would accept the results of the election – if he won.
Yet in the aftermath of his flabbergasting victory in the Electoral College, it has been his adversaries who seem unable to accept the results.
From the tear-stained faces of supporters at the Jacob Javits Center on election night to the stony-faced Valerie Jarrett and White House staff at a White House press opportunity the following day, Democrats and others who simply cannot envision the profane, blustering political neophyte with the unorthodox haircut as occupying the Oval Office and commanding the United States military have sought refuge in every possible excuse.
First, it was FBI Director James Comey’s fault for investigating whether Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server violated any federal criminal laws. Never mind that it was Clinton’s decision, not Comey’s, to set up such a system in the first place. Never mind, also, that despite a parade of memory lapses, destruction of documents and devices, inaccurate answers, and a curious meeting on the tarmac between Hillary’s husband and the head of the Justice Department just days before his announcement, Director Comey cleared the former Secretary of State of any criminal wrongdoing.
Then it was President Obama’s fault for not quashing the Comey investigation in the first place. Never mind that the president leapfrogged over his own vice president – the able and willing Joe Biden – to help cement Mrs. Clinton as his designated successor and vigorously campaigned for and with Mrs. Clinton in the closing days of the campaign. (Then again, given the apparent unpopularity of the president’s policies, maybe it was Obama’s fault.)
Then it was the fault of the antiquated Electoral College system with which the United States has chosen every president in its history, from George Washington to Barack Obama and including Mrs. Clinton’s husband, Bill, who never won as much as 50% of the popular vote in either 1992 or 1996. Never mind that, based on actual certified results of every county in the country, according to the Cook Political Report, Mr. Trump won the popular vote of 49 states combined, plus the District of Columbia, losing to Mrs. Clinton in the popular vote tally on the strength of California, which was still voting after most of the rest of the country’s polls had already closed.
Now it’s the fault of the Russians.
If Mr. Trump had lost the election and had made that claim, he’d have been laughed all the way back to Queens and been offered a tinfoil hat.
But Democrats are so adamant that some evil must have been afoot that, as reported by Brendan Bordelon at Morning Consult (firstname.lastname@example.org) on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, a group of nine Democratic Senators have requested a formal intelligence community finding regarding the scope of the Russian government’s alleged “intervention” in the U.S. presidential election process.
According to Mr. Bordelon, the senators sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper requesting a “National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE — a formal, authoritative statement issued by the director that’s intended to reflect the collective conclusion of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies on a specific issue.” For good measure, Mr. Bordelon emphasizes, “[s]tatements of this nature carry significant weight in international relations and among congressional leaders who are tasked with overseeing defense and security operations.”
Not only have the nine senators, including former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken (D., Minn.), requested an unclassified summary of the intelligence community’s “key judgements,” they’ve also asked that the document be issued before President-elect Trump takes office January 20.
The same group of lawmakers also reportedly wants outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch to confirm that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the Russian government’s alleged “campaign to influence the election.”
In view of the FBI declining to recommend prosecuting Mrs. Clinton for using an unsecure email system in the first place, the notion of the U. S. Justice Department prosecuting Vladimir Putin or his emissaries for taking advantage of email system vulnerabilities of others in order to help sway votes is ludicrous.
All of this is ultimately based merely on anonymous speculation by “unnamed intelligence officials” quoted in The Washington Post and other news outlets saying they “believe” Russia made attempts to help Mr. Trump win. But even if they’re right, so what? The U.S. tries to influence foreign elections and governments all the time. President Obama flew to Great Britain to lecture Parliament on why it should not vote to leave the European Union. Both Presidents Bush invaded Iraq and the younger President Bush had its leader captured and killed.
But never mind all that. Let’s look at what the Department of Homeland Security, which is tasked with monitoring such things, has already actually reported and said.
In a “Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security,” released October 7, 2016, DHS reported simply that “[t]he U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”
Why is it so confident? Because “[t]he recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by … Guccifer 2.0” are “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.” Never mind that Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks, who should know where he gets his material, has denied that his source is Russian. Never mind also that other actors may well have been at play, including disgruntled Democrats.
According to the Washington Examiner on December 14, 2016, for example, Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who claims to be close to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says he personally received some of the leaked emails from “disgusted” Democratic whistleblowers upset at “the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”
Nonetheless, “[t]hese thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process,” DHS continues. How DHS “knows” this it doesn’t say, but as we all know from Director Comey’s clearing of Mrs. Clinton, intent is very hard to prove, even when you can prove the actual activity itself and it’s undisputed who the actor is. According to a December 13, 2016, Reuters report, both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, established after the September 11, 2001, attacks and currently headed by James Clapper, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation agree.
“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” Reuters quotes one of three unnamed U.S. officials as saying. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”
According to Reuters, the FBI – the evidentiary standards of which require it to “make cases that can stand up in court, declined to accept the CIA’s analysis – a deductive assessment of the available intelligence – for the same reason,” according to the three unnamed officials. In short, intelligence is often a conglomeration of facts, deductions, and inferences, especially when it comes to determining intent.
As for the Russians – or anyone else – actually changing vote tallies once they’ve been cast, forget it. Even DHS goes on to say that the USIC and DHS “assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion.”
This assessment is based, DHS continues, “on the decentralized nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place. States ensure that voting machines are not connected to the Internet, and there are numerous checks and balances as well as extensive oversight at multiple levels built into our election process.”
Put more simply, despite widespread hysteria to the contrary, the U. S. has absolutely no evidence that the election itself was actually “hacked,” and no conclusive proof even that the leaked Democratic emails are or were a Russian attempt to boost Donald Trump’s electoral chances. It’s simply another narrative put out by the left in an actual attempt to undermine the American people’s confidence in the results of the election, which the left has difficulty comprehending much less accepting.
First it was recounts, then it was “but we won the popular vote,” then it was calls for electors to ignore the actual results in their states when they gather on December 19, and now it’s the Russians in a desperate last gasp to persuade electors to vote against the president-elect.
Russia was no doubt rooting for Mr. Trump to win, and Mr. Assange himself has made clear his distaste for Mrs. Clinton. Russian cyber-hackers – even directed by their government – may have helped release some of the embarrassing emails about Mrs. Clinton, her advisors, and her supporters in the media and the DNC.
But ultimately it was Mrs. Clinton, her advisors, and her supporters who generated those emails, not Vladimir Putin or even Julian Assange. It was the DNC that conspired to withhold the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders (who some suggest may have been able to beat Mr. Trump in the electoral college), and it was Democratic operatives like Donna Brazile, embedded at CNN, who leaked debate questions in advance to Mrs. Clinton.
In short, Russia may have helped sway some voters’ minds but it didn’t actually alter any U. S. voting totals, because – according to the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Intelligence Community – it couldn’t have even if it wanted to. And both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say they can’t even prove that the Russians wanted to, because intent is hard to prove.
Instead, as leaked emails and general news reports have shown, it was the White House, the Justice Department, the DNC, the entertainment industry, Silicon Valley, and nearly every major American newspaper who worked overtime in combination and often behind the scenes in a vain effort to get Mrs. Clinton elected. In the end, it simply wasn’t enough.
It’s enough to make a grown woman cry.