The fact that this bit of damage control was rushed out under Pence’s name before Trump’s press conference had even finished this morning makes me think Paul Manafort might have actually wet himself over Trump’s public appeal for further Kremlin intervention in the election.
Maybe this will be their new approach to cleaning up Trump’s public statements. Trump: I’m not saying I’d nuke Belgium but I’m not not saying it either. Statement from Mike Pence: We will not nuke Belgium even though maybe they deserve it.
“The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences. That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous. The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job.”
Paul Ryan’s office got cracking quickly on clean-up this afternoon too:
In a statement, Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Brendan Buck said: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”
One thing that got lost in the buzz afterwards but which John noted in his post is Trump saying about the hack, almost as an aside, “If it is Russia, which it’s probably not—nobody knows who it is…” That’s true insofar as the U.S. government hasn’t made a formal accusation yet but to say “it’s probably not” them is self-serving garbage. Everyone who’s looked at the hack so far, from private cybersecurity firms to sources within U.S. intelligence, says it’s them. The latest:
American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.
But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
Julian Assange hinted weeks ago that leaks were coming which he hoped would damage Hillary Clinton. To believe that he, rather than Russian intelligence, made the call on when to release them, you need to believe that Russia was willing to outsource to Wikileaks the decision on whether to inject Kremlin espionage into the middle of the U.S. presidential election or not. Far more likely is that the DNC documents were handed to Assange on the condition that they not be released until Russia permitted it, no? Either way, Trump’s talking straight out of his ass in trying to absolve Russia of responsibility. That’s part of a pattern.
Here’s something else he said today:
— MareikeAden (@MareikeAden) July 27, 2016
The 2014 UN vote on whether to recognize Crimea as part of Russia rather than Ukraine went 100/11 against, with Cuba, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela joining Russia among the 11. Room for one more?
John’s right, of course, that the root problem here is Russia having had easy access to Clinton’s e-mails in the first place and that the theatrical Democratic indignation over Trump is designed to deflect from her own negligence in making that happen. In the end this is a Hillary problem, not a Trump problem, and it’s a Hillary problem that the left spent month after month pretending wasn’t a problem at all — until today. It’s also true that Trump isn’t explicitly encouraging more hacking but rather publication of what’s already been hacked. But publication would expose classified information (yes, liberals, not just yoga schedules) to other foreign intel agencies besides Russia’s. And Trump egging it on for his own benefit amounts to, as Ed put it, “blessing the hack” that’s already happened, which is an incentive for future hacking. Case in point: One Trump fan on Twitter, in response to criticism of what he said today, wondered whether Trump’s critics would have preferred that the wrongdoing exposed by the DNC e-mails stay hidden. By that logic, Russia should hack everyone and expose malfeasance everywhere, at least if it redounds to Trump’s advantage. Maybe that’s the next stage in politicking — come 2020, Russian intel could hack the Democratic candidate and, say, Chinese intel could hack the Republican one and then they can have a fun contest during the campaign of who can release the most damaging well-timed leak. Think of it as next-level oppo. I’d prefer not to have U.S. elections tilted by foreign hacks and timely leaks of private communications, even when there was gross negligence in protecting their privacy, but the genie’s out of the bottle now.
In lieu of an exit question, a Trump classic from 2014: