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Partisanship Should Not Get in the Way of a Russia Inquiry

In the Wall Street Journal, Gerald F. Seib offers two sensible reasons why President-elect Donald Trump and his supporters should not obstruct efforts to investigate alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election process:

The first is that a cloud of uncertainty will hang over his election as long as the charges that Russia somehow intervened to help him remain unexplored and unanswered. Mr. Trump may fear that an inquiry will somehow delegitimize his victory, but the Russian role now has become such a visible and dominant topic that the opposite likely is true: Questions will linger mostly if the issue is shoved under the rug.

The second reason is more substantive. Mr. Trump shows every sign of wanting to execute a significant shift in America’s strategic posture in the world. He seems to want to get along better with Russia while doing more to confront China, a pivot that turns much foreign-policy thinking of the past decade or so upside down. […]

Both propositions are debatable, of course, and they will be debated. But the prospects of making a persuasive case for the kind of change toward Russia that Mr. Trump wants actually will be undercut if it appears that move is part of some kind of payoff for election-year help. Trump loyalists think that suspicion is ludicrous—which is why they should want it addressed head-on.

Two things can be true at once: First, Donald Trump is the legitimate President-elect, having won fair and square in a free and fair, if messy, election. Second, Russia’s apparent hacking of DNC servers is a serious incursion, one that should be identified as such and answered forcefully.

The media have largely blamed Trump and his supporters for politicizing the fact-finding process, citing his irresponsible dismissal of intelligence community assessments. But it’s also true that liberals have sought to use this as a cudgel to tar or even invalidate his victory, raising the specter of Russian interference to push for baseless recounts and and then an Electoral College nullification of the election results. So it is not a mystery why Team Trump’s reflexive response to the Russia allegations has been defensive.

There are a number of reasons why Russia may have released hacked emails embarrassing Hillary Clinton during this election season, including Putin’s personal dislike for her dating back to 2011 and his desire to see Western political establishments thrown into chaos. There is no evidence whatsoever that Trump is some kind of Manchurian candidate.

So the best path forward is to stop making the Russia issue some kind of proxy for partisanship or the legitimacy of the 18-month election process that just took concluded. Trump will be the president, and he should express his intention to address cyber-malfeasance by foreign powers, whatever their motives.

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  • WigWag
  • Beauceron

    It’s all a bit late for that at this point.

    And as far as this utter nonsense: “The first is that a cloud of uncertainty will hang over his election as long as the charges that Russia somehow intervened to help him” one can only say that it’s the Left. The same night Trump one the calls of “Not My President” began to ring out. Nothing the centrists or the right can do will please the Left. The Left have become like radical Islamists. Don’t want to fight with them? Convert to their ideology. They simply are unable to deal with those who disagree with them.
    The Left will hate everything Trump does regardless. The will do everything they can to delegitimize Trump regardless. They despise everyone on the right and to pretend there is something you can do to lift a “cloud” of suspicion over this election is a futile effort. First they lost because of all the whites racists. Then they lost because of the FBI. Now it’s the Russians. Now we have to pretend that Trump is a fascist– and despite not being a particular fan of Trump, accusing him of being a fascist is ridiculous. I am sick and tired of the right trying to please the mad dogs on the Left. It’s best to just accept them as they are and move on. There is absolutely nothing that can be done. The Left is immune to reason. The Left will not compromise. We have to draw a line in the sand and fight at some point.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Bravo!

      I wish I could have said it this well. This entire discussion about ‘investigating the Russian involvement’ is nothing more than yet another attempt by the Left to delegitimize an election that didn’t go their way. To cooperate with this is to simply play into their hands and engage in an endless game of delay, deny, and dispute as their next demand would be for Trump to ‘step aside or defer from executing his authority as President’ while such an investigation is underway. Does anyone believe for even a moment that the Dems would engage in this sort of silliness were the circumstances reversed? Obama violated numerous election laws while running for president, then ignored the investigations afterwards, while the Clinton’s fund-raising scandals included numerous donations from the Chinese that may have played some part in their laxity in permitting critical missile technologies to go to the Chinese during the 90s.

      Trump has now been elected president of the United States, and the time for debate is over. For the last 8 years, those not on the Left have been told to sit down, shut up, and listen to their betters. It is time for the Left to learn (or at least experience, they aren’t terribly good at learning) what this is like. They have chosen the rules, now they will have to play the game.

  • Andrew Allison

    The Manchurian Candidate is, thankfully, about to leave office.

  • Disappeared4x

    What about launching an investigation into the SorosCreamerOverturnElectoralCollegeMoreDeathThreats conspiracy to intervene in same election as another way to “…stop making the Russia issue some kind of proxy for partisanship or the legitimacy of the 18-month election…” ???

  • Boritz

    It would be more useful to admonish Democrats to begin to practice good cyber security. That starts by caring enough about the issue to address it with good industry standard practices.

  • FriendlyGoat

    There is no such thing as an inquiry which does not call the election result into question. There is no such thing as neglect of a serious inquiry which does not also call the election result into question. If there was interference which had no effect, why pursue it? Why not just have it anytime in the future too? You can’t do an inquiry for any purpose which is already declared moot in the moment but somehow important in “the future”.

  • ctobserver

    I’m not sure exactly what is desired by an inquiry into Russian hacking. Anyone who doesn’t expect that Russian (and Chinese, and North Korean, and Mexican, and British, and German, and French, and just about every other country’s) intelligence services will try to hack into important email accounts to gather information is rather naïve. Anyone who thinks that other countries won’t do things to try to influence American officials or voters is also naïve. For recent examples where the US did the same things, remember that we were listening to Angela Merkel’s cell phone, and President Obama made a public speech in the UK urging voters to vote “Remain” on the EU referendum.

    This type of thing is neither surprising nor particularly threatening. It certainly doesn’t call the validity of American elections into question – anyone who thinks it does must believe that we can never have a valid election until other countries cease their intelligence operations and disband their intelligence services.

  • Kevin

    This is sensible, but I think the investigation should also look into the politicization of the CIA and its leaks as well as its general incompetence. (Does the CIA’s charter even extend to domestic counterespionage – has it metasticized from a foreign intelligence service to a generalized secret police? Isn’t counterespionage supposed to be the purview of the FBI?)

    I’d also like to know there has been no effective defense against or even concern about hacking by the administration until it was blamed for costing the Democrats the election.

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