Terry McLaughlin: Russia meddled, but not to support Trump
I know many political conservatives who declared themselves to be “#NeverTrumpers” during the 2016 Presidential primary.
When Donald Trump became the Republican candidate for President, many of these same voters told me they planned to cast their ballot for a third party candidate in the general election, with the unwavering belief that Mrs. Clinton would win the election and their vote simply did not matter.
I was urged to do the same because “in California your vote for a Republican is wasted and will have no effect on the national election.”
Unwilling to vote for either candidate, a large percentage of my own family members and friends told me they did, indeed, vote for a third party candidate or none at all in the general election. I can only imagine how many more millions of voters across this country did the same — absolutely certain that the election belonged to Hillary Clinton.
And the morning after the election, not just Democrats were shocked — most Republicans were also.
Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes chronicled the Clinton campaign in their book “Shattered.” So sure of the outcome of the election were both the authors and the candidate, that the title of the book was intended to reference how Hillary Clinton “shattered” the glass ceiling when she became the first female President of the United States. Instead, as the New York Times Book Review stated, “Donald J. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton came as a shock to the world.”
Which brings me to the question of Russian meddling in our election. Who did the rest of the planet believe would win the American Presidential race? Did Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, or Russia believe Donald Trump had any chance of prevailing? Logic tells me that the international community was as certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory as were the American people.
Russia has a long history of attempting to disrupt the governments of other countries and sow disarray, distrust and chaos wherever they are able. A citizenry who does not trust its government, its media, its institutions, or each other is easily taken advantage of by bad actors such as Russia’s Putin. If Mrs. Clinton had won the election, as virtually everyone predicted, this Russian meddling would have made her appear less credible, less trustworthy and less capable, and created a lack of confidence in her administration. That was very likely Putin’s goal — to stir up dissent and create chaos and distrust within our government. There is certainly evidence that Russian agents made deliberate attempts to disrupt the 2016 election in the United States, but to believe that the Trump campaign colluded in this effort is simply not logical.
Why would Vladimir Putin not be as astonished with Donald Trump’s election as was almost everyone in our own country? But when the seemingly impossible happened, Mr. Putin was most happy to take advantage of the shock waves vibrating through our nation, and unfortunately, he has been ably aided in his attempts to create distrust and discord by the losing party and our own American media.
The information that has been released to the public by the Congressional House Intelligence Committee has clearly shown that Russian agents used technology and social media manipulation to, among other things, foment both pro- and anti-Trump rallies after the election. A Trump victory was not their goal, but rather the undermining of our democracy.
In a year of investigation by Special Counsel Mueller, members of Congress from both parties, including California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, have been forced to admit that no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives has yet been discovered.
Memos recently issued by Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have, however, revealed conclusive evidence that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign paid the Perkins Coie Law Firm to hire an opposition research firm called Fusion GPS to “conduct research regarding Candidate No. 1’s (Trump) ties to Russia.” Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, a former British M16 officer, to use his extensive Russian sources to provide information designed to taint Donald Trump. That information was then compiled into the now infamous “dossier.” According to testimony before the Intelligence Committee by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, not one claim in the “dossier” concerning Trump has been proven to be true, and former FBI Director James Comey has discredited it as “salacious and unverified”.
The Wall Street Journal recently opined that “the only definitive evidence of political collusion found so far is that the Clinton campaign paid Mr. Steele to troll his Russian sources for dirt on Donald Trump. The FBI then used this dirt as a reason to spy on Mr. Page (a former Trump campaign aide) and anyone he was communicating with. Imagine how the press would be playing this story if the roles were reversed?”
Most of the #NeverTrump crowd that I know gave up that hashtag the day a new President was elected. #NeverTrump became #ForAmerica.
Love him or hate him, they understood that having as one’s singular goal the desire to resist and thwart Mr. Trump’s every action, no matter the cost, would accomplish nothing that could improve or protect the lives of American citizens.
For the good of our country, they were able to set aside their animus because they love America more than they hate Donald Trump.
Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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