Russia worked to beat Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump become President of the United States, says the CIA:
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view” [Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Secret CIA Assessment Says Russia Was Trying to Help Trump Win White House,” Washington Post, 2016.12.09].
We can’t trust the CIA, says Trump:
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the Trump transition team said in a statement late Friday. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and “Make America Great Again'” [Nahal Toosi, “Trump Team Rejects Intel Agencies’ Claims of Russian Meddling,” Politico, 2016.12.09].
First, it’s hard to take seriously an indictment of trustworthiness that the Russian candidate punctuates with a patently false claim. By the results of each state’s popular vote, Trump has won 306 of the Electoral College’s 538 votes. That’s 57%. 45 out of 56 Presidential elections have seen the winner claim a larger percentage of the Electoral College than Trump’s apparent take; the highest were George Washington’s 100% Electoral takes. Barack Obama’s Electoral win percentages were 68% in 2008 and 62% in 2012.
Donald Trump has 36 more Electoral College votes in his column than the 270 necessary to win. 36 Presidential elections have produced winners with larger raw numbers of electoral votes above the victory threshold; the highest raw margin was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s in 1936, when he won 523 Electoral College votes, 257 more than necessary. George Washington’s unanimous win raw margins were 34 in 1789 and 65 in 1792. Barack Obama’s win cushions were 95 in 2008 and 62 in 2012.
So even as Trump claims the CIA is wrong, he’s lying about basic arithmetic and historical fact.
Second, the President-Elect is now delegitimizing the United States intelligence apparatus the same way he delegitimizes the press. But that apparatus is about to be his source of information to justify foreign policy. Two months from now, when President Trump says, “We need to invade/sanction/tariff/Tweet-bomb X,” and we ask “Why?” and he says, “Our intelligence shows…,” we can all say “Ha!” and Congress can refuse to authorize or fund an action built on lies. Delegitimize the intelligence services, the press, scientists, voters, the Cabinet (by selecting wealthy toadies even less qualified for their posts than Trump is for the Oval Office) and the only basis for Presidential action becomes the President’s will and whim… and that’s a scary recipe for failure.
Third—what are you thinking, America? In 1888, incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost his home state and the Electoral College because of perceptions that President Cleveland was too palsy-walsy with our friendly rival Great Britain. Now, two weeks before the Electoral College votes, we have evidence that a far less friendly rival with the power to nuke us put its thumb on our electoral scale. Patriotic electors already had a plethora of reasons to do their duty and pick Clinton or Pence instead of Trump. Now they have an assault on our sovereignty by the nation that the Pentagon last February called the greatest threat to national security and that the GOP nominee before Trump called our biggest geopolitical foe. Do we shrug at a President picked by Putin instead of the popular vote?
This is how Red Dawn really happens. The Soviets, Cubans, and Nicaraguans don’t parachute in and shoot up Colorado. Instead, KGB alumnus Putin dispatches his arms-length hackers to get the President he wants. So much simpler and cost-effective.