Reporters and politicos are muddying the waters on President Trump’s alleged ties to foreign interests by claiming inaccurately that Russia “hacked” the 2016 presidential election.
The Russians were involved in stealing emails from accounts belonging to Democratic National Committee staffers and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence report.
“We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report read.
It added, “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for [President Trump].”
The emails, which were released in batches during the election by the hacking group WikiLeaks, did Clinton and her team no favors, especially when it was revealed that certain DNC staffers colluded to rig the Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
It’s not incorrect, based on what the U.S. intelligence community has reported, to say Russia likely meddled in or interfered with in the presidential election. It’s terribly misleading, on the other hand, to say Russia “hacked” the election.
Former President Obama, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have each stressed since the Nov. 8 election that there is no evidence to suggest voting results were interfered with in any way, either electronically or manually. The “hacked” narrative has been so pervasive that each of these entities felt compelled to assure the electoral process itself was not manipulated by a foreign government.
Yet, it’s March 2017, and some in political and media circles are still peddling the very misleading claim that Russia “hacked” the election [emphases added]:
“GOPers on House intel committee more outraged that Flynn’s call with Kislyak was leaked than Moscow hacked a presidential election,” Mother Jones’ David Corn said Monday as the House Intelligence Committee interviewed FBI Director James B. Comey on Russia’s alleged involvement in the election.
Corn is the same journalist who penned an article shortly after the Nov. 8 election titled, “The NSA Chief Says Russia Hacked the 2016 Election. Congress Must Investigate.”
NPR contributor Litsa Dremousis said, “What [GOP] doesn’t get: we’re NOT enjoying this. We’re sickened our election was hacked. Nation above party.”
The Washington Post’s Lois Romano said, “I so hope they spend another five hours on leakers instead of focusing on whether a foreign power hacked our election.”
“Rep Rooney (R-Fl) doesn’t seem angry that a foreign power may have hacked our election. Now Rep Gowdy will attempt more sleight of hand,” said New York magazine’s Rob Tannenbaum.
An interesting aside: A fair number of media appeared unaware Monday that House members stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Obama and the U.S. intelligence community in warning against the dubious “hacked the election” narrative.
To be clear, there’s nothing to show the Russians “hacked” any formal function of the presidential election. There are no reports showing any manipulation of official government or election office duties or functions.
To date, all we know is that two private entities, the DNC and Podesta, were hacked during the election, and that the Russians were most likely behind it, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
That’s it. It certainly doesn’t live up to the promise implied in the phrase, “Russia hacked the election.”
There are questions that must be answered regarding Trump’s connections to people like his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and campaign manager, Paul Manafort, whose roles during the 2016 election are all the more interesting considering their respective ties to foreign governments.
It will be harder to get answers on these issues, however, so long as people who should know better further confuse things with misleading narratives and unfounded conspiracies.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner