Coming at the end of a hyperbolic week of allegations and machinations flying back and forth, this fact check from Jake Tapper almost seems … quaint. At the very least, it’s nostalgic, hearkening back to lighter days when anything Hillary Clinton said mattered, and usually wasn’t truthful anyway. In that sense, it’s good to see that nothing’s changed.
Tapper partnered with FactCheck.org’s Robert Farley to dismantle Hillary’s claims about Donald Trump in an op-ed at The Atlantic. Does Trump really show a “complete unwillingness” to stop Russian interference in the midterm elections? Has he really done nothing to “stop it or protect us”? Really really?
Er … no:
Jake Tapper, in partnership with https://t.co/AktQdXZKhT, looks at Hillary Clinton's misleading comments about President Trump's actions to deter Russian election interference https://t.co/Qbk9Yiu85t pic.twitter.com/iKh0VMHCgZ
— CNN (@CNN) September 21, 2018
At some level, one has to wonder whether this column was worth targeting at all. Had it been written by anyone else, probably not. The passage that gets fact checked is so shallow that one has to wonder why it was included at all, other than to fill in a bullet point:
Second, the legitimacy of our elections is in doubt.
There’s Russia’s ongoing interference and Trump’s complete unwillingness to stop it or protect us. There’s voter suppression, as Republicans put onerous—and I believe illegal—requirements in place to stop people from voting. There’s gerrymandering, with partisans—these days, principally Republicans—drawing the lines for voting districts to ensure that their party nearly always wins. All of this carries us further away from the sacred principle of “one person, one vote.”
This is such a weak talking-point regurgitation that Hillary had to graft gerrymandering and voter-ID laws onto it to fill it out past a single sentence. Gerrymandering is hardly new, and for that matter the Republican version of it is hardly more innovative than Democratic versions. None of this has anything to do with “one person, one vote” modeling, either. It’s word salad at best.
Still, Tapper and Farley squash this no-see-um with a sledgehammer. While there certainly has been room to criticize Trump for some of his statements on the matter, the Trump administration has in fact taken significant action against Russia for its election interference:
- The Department of Homeland Security has developed partnerships in all 50 states to help state and local election officials defend against interference in their elections, providing services such as vulnerability assessments and expertise in technology security.
- The FBI director says his agency has been working with social media and technology companies, sharing “specific threat indicators and account information, and a variety of other pieces of information so that they can better monitor their own platforms” to combat influence campaigns such as the one Russia engaged in during the 2016 election.
- The Office of the Director of National Intelligence led an inter-agency working group of cyber and intelligence experts to improve election security.
- Trump expanded sanctions against Russians who were involved in or facilitated interference in the 2016 election.
- Trump signed an executive order that will, among other things, give the president discretion to impose sanctions on foreign countries that interfere in U.S. elections.
Just four days prior to Hillary’s op-ed, Farley further notes, Trump signed an EO declaring a national emergency over the threat of interference in the midterms:
I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that the ability of persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure or the covert distribution of propaganda and disinformation, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Although there has been no evidence of a foreign power altering the outcome or vote tabulation in any United States election, foreign powers have historically sought to exploit America’s free and open political system. In recent years, the proliferation of digital devices and internet-based communications has created significant vulnerabilities and magnified the scope and intensity of the threat of foreign interference, as illustrated in the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.
That certainly seems like an indication of concern. Granted, it’s not the same level of concern as blaming a YouTube video for an attack on a consulate and later declaring “What difference at this point does it make?” when proven wrong, but still.
It’s an excellent debunking, for what it’s worth. The better fact check might have been on The Atlantic, however, for implying that Hillary Clinton has anything reliable and interesting to say.