ACRU

If You Ever Need an Excuse for a Bad Candidate, Blame Russia

White House - Sunset

This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky was published December 16, 2016 by Conservative Review.

Listening to the hysterical claim of the shell-shocked Left that the Russians “interfered” with the election reminds me of the 1966 comedy “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!” starring Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, and the hilarious Jonathan Winters. In the movie, an island off Cape Cod (obviously modeled on Nantucket) is swept by widely-exaggerated rumors of a Russian invasion after a Soviet submarine runs aground. Today, the same type of sensationalist narrative is being pushed: that Vladimir Putin manipulated the election.

According to Democrats, that must be the reason why their candidate lost, and Donald Trump won the election. Unfortunately for them, nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, so far we have only some anonymous sources and no actual evidence to support these claims. Furthermore, as Peter Brookes of The Heritage Foundation (and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense) points out, the CIA is only one of 17 intelligence agencies, and the FBI apparently disagrees with at least some parts of the supposed CIA assessment. Moreover, Fox News is reporting that the director of National Intelligence, who is charged with speaking for the entire intelligence community, also apparently disagrees with the CIA.

Most importantly, however, is that Democrats and the media are using the broad term “interference in our election” to blur the important distinction between hacking into the DNC’s computer system and actual interference with the election process of voting and counting ballots. There is no credible evidence of any kind that Russian hackers, or any other hackers, interfering with the voting process on Election Day or the counting of ballots across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Despite the traumatic shock this has caused to the political Left and their friends in the media, Donald Trump won the election fair and square.

This should come as no surprise, given the difference between the DNC internal communications that were obtained by WikiLeaks and our election system. As I have previously pointed out:

No one minimizes the threat of cyberattacks by bad actors from the Chinese government to individual hackers. And cyber criminals have managed to get into all kinds of computer systems, from the attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that obtained the personnel files of millions of federal employees, to the embarrassing invasion of the DNC’s computer system. But all of those computer systems have direct access to the internet, which provides the pathway in for hackers once they battle their way through the security firewalls and defenses that are supposed to protect those systems. That is not the case with almost all of our voting and ballot-counting processes. We have the most decentralized election system of any Western democracy, with over 3,000 counties and numerous townships running elections. There is no central computer system running our national elections and the computer ballots used to total votes are almost all standalone computers.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson confirmed in an interview with the Washington Post this week that DHS found no evidence that voting systems were attacked by hackers on election night: “We did not see anything that amounted to altering ballot counts…nothing out of the ordinary.” So there was absolutely no action by any hackers that actually “interfered” with the Nov. 8 election or somehow altered the outcome. Despite the traumatic shock this has caused to the political Left and their friends in the media, Donald Trump won the election fair and square.

As for the DNC emails, let’s assume that what is so-far an unproven claim is true: that Russians hackers —- who may or may not have been directed by the Russian government —- were responsible for obtaining the internal communications from the DNC computer system that have so upset Clinton electors such as Christine Pelosi (House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter). Pelosi has demanded an intelligence briefing prior to the Electoral College vote next Monday. We should note that Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and close associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says that WikiLeaks obtained these documents from a “disgusted” DNC insider, not a hacker.

In any event, the WikiLeaks publication unmasked the false narrative the DNC was projecting of neutrality in the Democratic primary race; it revealed the internal conspiracy between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. (F, 8%) and the Clinton campaign to freeze out Bernie Sanders. It also revealed the behind-the-scenes media coordination with the Clinton campaign, including the revelation that Donna Brazile, a CNN commentator and interim DNC Chair, gave Clinton advance notice about one of the questions she would be asked during an upcoming debate.

In other words, the leaks exposed the truth of what was actually going on inside the Democratic political world and in the biased media coverage of the campaign.

Christine Pelosi and other Clinton electors apparently want an intelligence briefing on who spilled the beans to the American public and showed the true face of her party. It is certainly understandable why they would be upset and embarrassed that the truth got out. But that’s not a valid reason to delay the vote of the Electoral College.

There is no question that we should take this possible intrusion into the DNC computer system seriously. Both the Russians and the Chinese governments have proven track records of hacking into all types of computer systems. But any investigation into this needs to be independent, bipartisan, and allowed enough time to do a comprehensive job.

A rushed internal review before the inauguration, as President Obama’s proposes, would lack credibility and smack of a partisan, political power play. And it is particularly ironic, given the 2016 report of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation that found that the Obama State Department funded a political advocacy organization in Israel that worked to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he ran for re-election in 2015. Apparently, trying to “interfere” in the Israeli election was deemed acceptable.

If Democrats want to know why they lost the election, they don’t need an intelligence briefing to get the answer. They just need to look in the mirror.