For Republicans, Russian Sabotage Of Our Elections Is No Big Deal

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For Republicans, Russian Sabotage Of Our Elections Is No Big Deal

 

The White House / Flickr trump pence ryan...
The White House / Flickr

On Monday we actually saw the American president stand next to the Russian dictator and say that he takes the dictator’s word over that of the entire intelligence community, followed by CIA director John Brennan tweeting, “Republican patriots, where are you?” Where they are and where they have been is getting help from Russia themselves. The whole lot of them are complicit. Washington Post:

While we’re all (properly) asking how deep the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians went, we should also be taking a good hard look into the collusion that apparently took place between the Russians and others in the Republican Party, not to help Trump, but to help Republicans running for Congress.

On Friday, Democratic candidate for Congress Brad Ashford announced that Russian agents hacked into his 2016 campaign emails a few months before he lost his re-election bid to his Republican challenger. Associated Press:

Ashford, who lost his seat to Republican Don Bacon by 3,464 votes, said hackers obtained all of his campaign’s email correspondence with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He said he was notified of the breach in the summer of 2016 by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office and was told that the Russians were likely responsible.

“I wasn’t concerned about anything that would be untoward or inappropriate (in the emails), because I knew there wasn’t anything like that,” Ashford said in an Associated Press interview. “I was fearful that they would know things about our campaign’s strategy and focus, and that it would somehow get into the hands of a dark money group. It was stuff you don’t want the other side to get.” […]

Ashford is the latest candidate to confirm Russian interference in his campaign. The Guccifer 2.0 blog posted a stolen DCCC memo in August 2016 that the noted possible weaknesses in the campaign of Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo, who lost her 2016 congressional primary in South Florida after her campaign’s documents were hacked and publicly released. […]

Ashford said his district was likely targeted because his race was viewed as competitive and because Nebraska has the ability to split its electoral votes in presidential races, making the Omaha-based 2nd District a potential pickup for Democrats.

Ashford is not contending unequivocally that the meddling cost him the election, but he did say, “I do think it’s important for people in my district to know how close to home these Russians can get.” The Russians were all over the board in 2016, and the Republicans were gratefully accepting their help. Here’s a paragraph from Friday’s FBI indictment:

“On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.”

We don’t know who that candidate is, but suspicion has centered around a group of Republican members of Congress from Florida. In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that a campaign consultant for one of those members, Rep. Brian Mast, said, “I did adjust some voting targets based on some data I saw from the leaks.” The Mast campaign has issued denials that it used any hacked data.

As the Post points out, it would be nice if Mueller would reveal the name of the candidate so that his or her constituents can know before casting a ballot in November.

When it comes to Republicans, we’re faced with two related issues. First, there are members of their party who actively benefited from Russian manipulation of our election, and even sought out help that turned out to come from Russia, whether they fully understood it at the time. Second, much of the rest of their party is now arguing that it’s really no big deal if the Russians manipulate American elections, so long as the GOP is the one that benefits.

So true. The Republicans are blase about what happened in 2016. Remember what Ron Johnson had to say about it?

“I’ve been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” he told the conservative Washington Examiner. “We’ve blown it way out of proportion — [as if it’s] the greatest threat to democracy . . .

Would he feel the same way if Russia interfered in his 2016 reelection campaign to help Russ Feingold, his Democratic opponent?

“Johnson’s remarks to the Examiner were highlighted by Russian state media,” Roll Call reported. “The Russian news agency TASS reported on Johnson’s comments, as did Sputnik International.”

Johnson’s totally in bed with Russia. And here’s Rand Paul

“They are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same,” said Paul, citing a study that he said shows the United States interfered in the elections of other countries 81 times during a 50-year period in the last century. “So, we all do it. What we need to do is make sure our electoral process is protected.”

And Richard Shelby

“Most countries would meddle and play in our domestic elections if they could, and some of them have,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said recently. “We have to be realistic [that] nations are going to do what is in their [national] interest. We’ve done a lot of things, too.”

Shelby later sought to clarify that he was not saying Russia and the U.S. are the same, and that he is not excusing everything Moscow has done. “I was just stating the reality of it,” he told the Daily Beast.

The Republicans are just fine with colluding with the Russians. They’re going out of their way to normalize it because it’s to their benefit to do so. They forget the words of their fearless leader, Ronald Reagan, who told the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983, “I urge you to beware the temptation of … blithely declaring yourselves above it all and to label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”

Trump has remade the Republican party in his own image. With a few exceptions, they are the party of Trump. Maybe they should change their name to Russiapublicans?

We all know how eager the Trump campaign was to work with the Russian government when the campaign believed the Russians had dirt on Clinton to share. But just as we’ve seen so many times before, Trump’s naked corruption is merely a more unapologetic version of what’s happening within the Republican Party. So the question now is: Is this still going on? Are any Republican candidates currently receiving information obtained through Russian hacking about their opponents?

We can certainly hope not, but it isn’t something we should take for granted. Nothing they have said or done would lead us to believe they’d have any qualms about getting more Russian help if they thought they could get away with it.

Abraham Lincoln is oft quoted these days, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Here comes the GOP with the wrecking ball.

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