And now comes the report by the CIA that the Russians tried to throw the election to Donald Trump.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about this situation but the biggest one is "Why has Trump failed to ask for a fuller investigation or even a CIA briefing on this?"
Instead he has screeched in a night-time Twitter, "I don't believe it!"
He says we can't trace the hacking. If he is so ignorant as to not know hacking can be traced (I'm 80 and I know it), why does he screech without checking out the possibilies? He has earlier said about Clinton's emails being hacked that "it coud be China or someone sitting on a bed somewhere." Who gives him these ideas? Has he been assured by someone that hacking by Russia can't be traced? And if he was thus assured, who did the assuring and when?
We don't know if the Russians' hacking was all their own idea or they acted in collusion with Trump. We do know, however, that it was Russian done. These things are in fact traceable, though Donald Trump says otherwise.
We don't know if the Russians actually attempted to tip the election scale in favor of Trump. But the CIA says the evidence is high. Judging by what we know of the Russian interference in Democratic House campaigns, there can be little question but they intended to affect our elections. And it certainly seems the attack on the House campaigns did indeed have an effect. How Moscow Aimed a Perfect Weapon at the U.S. Election
We don't know if Trump's appointment of a Putin "friend" to be our Secretary of State is a payback for the purported effort by the Russians to tip the election to Trump.
What we do know is that any attempt by any outside government or other outside entity to "rig" our elections is a worse attack on us than war. We can recover from a military attack; we may never recover from an attack on our elections, our most basic democratic institution.
If Russia even so much as tried this, it must be punished by sanctions at least. And Trump, no matter his friendly feelings for Putin and Russia, must institute such punishment. If he does not, he is thereby at least an accessory after the fact, helping a cover-up and effectively colluding with Russia in an attack on this country. He will also flagrantly be defying the oath a president takes to defend this country.
For either of these "high crimes" it is the absolute duty of the Congress to impeach him. If he went beyond this and actually colluded with the Russians prior to the acts, he has committed something akin to treason. (See the postscript as to an act being treason even when outside of wartime and even with a country not officially an enemy.)
I would have let this matter become clearer before commenting, but things have happened since the story broke about the CIA report. After four days, much is still cloudy in this matter, but two things have become clear to me.
1. I have already alluded to the first, i.e. any attempt by Russia to interfere in our elections must be punished. This is necessary to deter others and also to reassure our people that our elections are being guarded by sanctions falling on those who trespass into these elections.
2. Guilt speaks with a loud and quick voice. I was for a time a criminal defense lawyer. It wasn't my job to decide whether a client was guilty or not, and I can honestly say I never did, but I did notice some things about the behavior of the accused: those who yelled loudly that they were innocent and did so before being identified as suspects, often soon faced a mountain of evidence against them. And that was my job: to be alert to the possibility of such a mound of evidence coming at my client and me. Thus when Trump leaped in the night to Twitter that he did not believe the CIA report, he sounded an awful lot like my clients against whom a pile of evidence would be coming.
So I ask you this: why would an innocent president-elect dismiss out of hand an intelligence agency report going right to the survival of our democracy?
Wouldn't he be as anxious as anyone—even moreso than anyone—to have the matter thoroughly investigated?
One would certainly hope so.
Meantime the GOP leaders of Congress have indicated they want to do an investigation. Will they do one that is honest and thorough? Again, we don't know.
But I think they might. This is a more serious and clearer-cut matter than was Watergate at this stage. They know that. They also know that if they fail to meet this challenge, they have not only failed their fundamental sworn duty to protect this country and the Constitution but risk the GOP losing even the tiny shred of credibility it yet may have in the wake of Trump's takover of the party.
Further, I do believe that at some level these GOP leaders actually care about this country.
Maybe this ghastly Russian shadow will draw us all back into the basic understanding that we all, regardless of party, do indeed love this country. Maybe we can actually all pull together to fix this terrible thing that may have happened.
Could some good come out of this threatening situation? Could a threat of this magnitude bring us together.
We don't know the answer to that yet either, do we? But let's see if the GOP Congress now takes up its duty and starts its investigation.
Call (not email) your Congressional representatives and senators and say you want an investigation right now and want Russia punished with sanctions.
It's your country. If you can keep it.....
P.S. For an act betraying our country to be prosecuted successfully it is not required that a perpetrator "give aid and comfort to an enemy" identifiable as such because of a state of war. Betraying one's country is a broader concept, e.g. the government employee who stole US secrets in order to give them to Israel, which of course is our ally. These acts are generally prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917. Precisely how an act to destroy an American election would be classified requires some research.