Thursday, May 30, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He took every possible position on whether Russia got him elected in the space of 20 minutes.

As usual, Trump spent most of the workday on Twitter, and one tweet in particular generated a lot of attention. In it, Trump said:

Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax...And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist...

It was immediately noticed that Trump was, for the first time, admitting what literally every other intelligence and federal law enforcement agency that has investigated it already knew: that Russia helped him get elected.

Less than an hour later, Trump completely contradicted himself.

Q: Do you believe that Russia helped you get elected? 
TRUMP: No, Russia did not help me get elected. 
Q: That’s what [your tweet] said. 
TRUMP: You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side.

In reality, the Putin regime actively sabotaged the 2016 presidential election in order to get Trump elected, or at least to delegitimize Clinton, the expected winner. It hacked into the Democratic National Committee's e-mail servers and released selected messages aimed at demoralizing potential Hillary Clinton voters. It conducted widespread attacks on state election systems, and compromised election computers in at least two counties in Florida. It hired buildings full of professional online trolls aimed at spreading propaganda and disinformation online. It successfully cultivated relationships with Trump's family members and campaign manager in order to offer them "dirt" on Clinton. And it responded on the very same day of Trump's request on live TV that it conduct cyberattacks against Clinton.

There is unanimous agreement among experts that Russia's attempts to interfere in elections are ongoing, so it matters that Trump is more or less unable to admit that the attacks happened in the first place.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president who can't or won't even try to protect American elections from foreign interference is unfit for office.
  • It's bad if the president is compromised by a hostile foreign power because he needs its help to stay in power.