Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday's post was accidentally hidden for most of the following day. We apologize for the mistake.

What did Donald Trump do today?

He accused a foreign power of attempting to sabotage American elections--but not Russia.

Trump today claimed that China was targeting him specifically in this year's Congressional elections. "Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration," he told an audience at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Trump insisted that China wanted Republicans to lose seats in Congress because he was "winning on trade." (It's not clear what he thinks "winning" means in this context.)

It certainly could be true that China is trying to influence American voters, although Trump offered no details. Earlier today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that no country would succeed in creating "substantial interference" with American elections. But Pompeo provided no details either, which is not surprising given the enormous reluctance that Trump has shown to engage with election sabotage.

By contrast Trump has steadfastly refused to acknowledge or act on the overwhelming evidence compiled by his own government that the Putin regime used espionage and propaganda campaigns, with the active cooperation of members of his family and campaign staff, to elect him and defeat Hillary Clinton. He has repeatedly called the government's main investigation into that attack on American democracy a "witch hunt." 

Trump has also shown interest in a plan floated by Putin himself to form a joint U.S.-Russia task force on cyber-espionage. This would, in effect, give the Russian government even more information than it already has about how to penetrate American computer networks.

Why does this matter?

  • Threats to the United States are not real if and only if they hurt the president personally.
  • Nobody has less credibility on this subject than Donald Trump.