If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you may have heard talk of Russia “hacking the election” in favor of winner Donald Trump. But how much interference did Russia really have? To say that the election was really “hacked” is to go too far.
The US intelligence community seems to be in agreement that the emails of important Democrats were stolen, but I caution against using the word “hack.” It should be noted that Donald Trump won legitimately according to our representative democratic system. Hillary Clinton was almost certainly hurt by the leaked information, but the final vote tally was not altered by the Russians.
It doesn’t help things that many people already considered Trump to be sympathetic to Russia. Whether it’s his perceived coziness with the undemocratic country, or his remark (joke?) during the campaign that Russia ought to hack Clinton’s emails, the thought that the election was toyed with in his favor by Russian hackers seemed all too plausible to many. Trump, of course, has gone on the defensive in the months following his victory.
By citing the CIA’s mistaken belief that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, Trump is saying that this hacking scandal may be no different. He also points to claims by Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, that the source of the leaks was not Russia. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not quite ready to totally dismiss the conclusions of our nation’s intelligence based on past mistakes or the testimony of Julian Assange.
If Russia didn’t hack the Democratic National Committee, who did?
Back in September, during the third presidential debate, Trump’s guesses as to who might have been the perpetrator included China and “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” He also seemed to imply that having a young son who is good at computers made him an authority on cybersecurity.
This seems like it could be a recurring problem within the Trump presidency: our president claiming to be more knowledgeable on issues than the experts, to the extent that it undermines public faith in our institutions.
Even some Republicans, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have come forward supporting sanctions against Russia.
According to them, 99 out of 100 senators share a belief in some Russian interference. If the two Republicans are correct, this would put Donald Trump at considerable odds with the legislative branch if he were to continue to disbelieve the intelligence report. It would also create an awkward situation between the commander-in-chief and many of the agencies that he will be relying on for the next four years.
Hopefully, the findings on the Russian hacking will be declassified soon, and the air of speculation surrounding the whole thing will be replaced by transparency. As selfish as his motives for distrusting the CIA probably are, Trump is onto something when he says that the agency has been wrong before.
I would like to see some cold, hard evidence, or else this Russia scandal will start to look a lot like the new McCarthyism.