Cars pass by a billboard showing US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on Nov. 16, 2016. Putin and Trump spoke on the phone Nov. 15 and agreed on the need to normalize ties between Washington and Moscow, the Kremlin said. (Photo by Savo Prelevic/AFP/Getty Images)
There are lots of reasons why Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won, but the hacking of our election by Russia’s Vladimir Putin is the most frightening.
It is very likely now that Donald Trump will be inaugurated as president of the United States on Jan. 20, in no small part because of the direct intervention in and manipulation of the American electoral process by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s strongman who rose to power as a ruthless agent of the KGB, the former Soviet Union’s secret police.
As we all know, The Washington Post and The New York Times recently reported just how deeply Russian hackers invaded the computers of the Democratic Party, a move intended to confuse voters with leaked excerpts of emails and other documents and thus throw a monkey wrench into the election. Now The Post reports that the CIA believes the Russian meddling was deliberately intended to help sway the vote in Trump’s favor. And NBC News says it was Putin himself who “personally directed” those leaks.
Why did he do this? For one thing, according to Michael McFaul, the former American ambassador to Russia, Putin has a thing about Hillary Clinton. “He has had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton that has been known for a long time because of what she said about his elections back in the parliamentary elections of 2011,” McFaul told NBC News (Clinton had questioned the integrity of the Russian elections). But more important, McFaul continued, “He wants to discredit American democracy and make us weaker in terms of leading the liberal democratic order. And most certainly he likes President-elect Trump’s views on Russia.”
All of which, apparently, now has helped land us in the worst political fix since the Civil War, an electronic invasion that former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson says he believes could be “the largest intelligence coup since the cracking of the Enigma code during World War II.”
Yes, we know some of this remains speculation. Yes, we know Democrats would like to point attention away from some bad, self-inflicted mistakes the Clinton campaign made, mistakes that hurt it on Election Day. That they failed to realize the depth of the anger in the American heartland didn’t help. And neither did the FBI/James Comey intrusion.
Yes, we know the documents handed to WikiLeaks from the Clinton campaign and the DNC were real (although it’s worth noting that as The Times reports, some documents leaked from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation “turned out to have been altered [apparently by the hackers] to make it appear as if the foundation was financing Russian opposition members.”)
Yes, we know that despite all the Russia news, Republican efforts to suppress the vote are ongoing and a huge concern from which we cannot be distracted — and which must be addressed as well. And yes, we know the United States has consistently intervened in and sabotaged elections in other countries, actively working to install leaders who would kowtow to the interests of our government and American corporate interests.