Well, it took 18 months for President Donald Trump to try to “act presidential.” Remember that call from the #NeverTrump movement and so many afflicted with liberal derangement? It is a non-stop cry from the talking heads on cable news outlets and from many of the voices on talk radio.
How did it take this long? It started with a question from a reporter in Helsinki, while President Trump was standing at a lectern next to President Putin. President Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to the allegations of meddling in the elections? (I put the word “elections” in bold and italics for emphasis, as I will get back to this word momentarily.)
Let me help the aggrieved and agitated out there. I need to explain my opening sentence before I get to the wording of the question from the reporter. Until yesterday, Donald Trump did not walk-back statements made to the media. Instead, he would more often than not, double-down on his comments, often piling further on his own words. However, he tried something yesterday that failed miserably and it made me sad. He decided to “walk-back” his words. He tried to say he meant to use the word “wouldn’t” instead of “would,” as in, why wouldn’t it be Russia who interfered? Here is my exact tweet from yesterday after his attempt to “correct” his words:
Let me be clear. I do not believe he misspoke. Nor do I think HE believes he misspoke. He tried to play the politician. He tried to parse his words. He tried to play the Bill Clinton card — depends on what the definition of “is” is. He looked bad trying on that particular coat. The garment that fits easily across the shoulders of so many politicians, hung loose and baggy around the President of the United States of America. This was not the man who defeated 15 other GOP front-runners to win the Republican nomination. This was not the same person who campaigned tirelessly, handing Hillary Clinton an electoral defeat and winning the presidency. And, this is not the same president who continues to pile-up victories, checking off one campaign promise after another. Even conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro, had to admit Trump’s policies have been the most conservative in his lifetime, even if the rhetoric tends to be ridiculous and inducing of repeated eye-rolls.
President Trump needed to stick to his original response to the question because he was correct! The Russians, without a doubt, are bad actors trying to interfere with campaigns. But, so too are many other nation-states. But, interfering with a campaign is different than interfering with an “election.” Words have meanings and those meanings need to be understood if we are to ever have a decent dialogue in this nation.
President Barack, in a statement to the press on October 18, 2016, just a few weeks before the presidential election, chastised Trump for thinking elections can be rigged in the United States. In his own words, he stated:
The larger point that I want to emphasize here is that there is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part because they’re so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved—there’s no evidence that has happened in the past or that there are instances that that will happen this time. And so, I’d advise Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.
I am not going to delve into voter fraud, illegal voter registration or voter disenfranchisement. Those topics have been written about to much exhaustion (my own piece can be found here) and can be revitalized another day. What we are dealing with is a conscious decision from the Left and the mainstream media to move away from talking about outside entities trying to disrupt a campaign and move it toward “hacking an election.”
To illustrate, both the DNC and the RNC received (as we all do, if we don’t have solid anti-virus and anti-malware protection) multiple spear-phishing emails. We’ve all seen examples or know of them. Click here to begin cleaning your system of viruses…click on the link to reset your password…press the icon to setup one-touch login…etc. These emails can look real because they are coming to you disguised with logos and addresses, seeming legitimate. If you click on these links, you will likely allow malware (malicious software) to be installed on your system. Depending on the malware and how your machine is setup on the network, you can expose the entire organization to hackers. I won’t get too deep into the tech side of this, suffice it to say, we need to have this understanding to move forward for our purposes here.
John Podesta, chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, was the guy who fell for one of these bogus emails. He clicked on a link, exposing his Gmail account and more systems to outside organizations. That same spear-phishing email was sent to approximately 3,900 targeted individuals in government, the military, people who worked for companies in military and government supply chains, journalists and members of political campaigns. And though it proved embarrassing to the Clinton campaign to have so many emails leaked to the world, it was not a “hack of our elections.” It did expose collusion between the head of the DNC (at that time Debbie Wasserman Schultz) and the Clinton campaign to ensure challenger Bernie Sanders would not be the democratic nominee. It revealed what many within the DNC thought of Hillary Clinton. It showed disparaging remarks and comments about Trump supporters and mocked the intelligence of those who leaned toward the GOP.
Again, it was embarrassing. But, it was not a hack of our elections.
In over 18 months, the Mueller investigation has yet to find any collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and anyone in the Russian government. The most recent grand jury indictment of 12 Russians identified for running that spear-phishing campaign did not list a single American co-conspirator. In fact, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein specifically said the scam did not affect the election, nor was it tied to any American.
These phishing campaigns are constantly being used by hacker groups, bad actors and nation states and they will continue. The fact is, no voting machines were hacked. No voting results were hacked. And, even if you believe in the power of your tin-foil hat, how could anyone hack enough voting machines in enough districts to control the output of a presidential election? Barack Obama was correct when he said, “…no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, in part because they’re so decentralized and the numbers of votes involved—there’s no evidence that has happened in the past or that there are instances that that will happen this time.”
I wish Donald Trump did not try to act like a typical politician. I wish he had done what he usually does — double-down. I would have liked for him to say, I do not believe Russian interfered with our elections. Our elections are so decentralized and with the number of votes involved, there’s no evidence they could have done that. They, among others, have certainly meddled or attempted to meddle with emails and servers belonging to campaigns and for that we have already identified 12 perpetrators. But, no, I do not believe they affected our elections, any more than the Chinese or the Iranians or the North Koreans or any of a number of countries opposed to the power and might of the greatest nation on Earth might want to do. I trust our intelligence agencies to work with the private sector to build secure firewalls and software designed to keep our computers and servers safe.
Then, after saying that, I would have loved for him to say the following:
As to affecting an election, how do we look at the drafting of an exoneration email for the crimes committed by a candidate before she is even interviewed? How do we allow someone to destroy government cell phones, laptops and servers to prevent emails from being turned over under a subpoena? What does it say about our system of justice when we allow someone to break the law repeatedly, but sweep those crimes under the rug because everyone knows she is going to be the next president? Moreover, what impact does it have on our election to use opposition research, bought and paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, funnel it through backdoor channels and use it as a means of gaining FISA warrants to spy on members of the other campaign? What does it say when a handful of elite, upper-echelon individuals in the FBI and the DOJ discuss insurance policies to safeguard against a Donald Trump presidency and they would take steps to prevent such an election from happening? Would this be considered “affecting an election?”
And, as the cherry on top, I wish he had closed by saying: How does it look for the husband of a candidate to receive a $500,000 speaking fee on the heels of the Uranium One deal, which put one third of America’s uranium supply in the hands of Russia? What about the many millions funneled into the Clinton Foundation from Russian entities just as Hillary Clinton, as then Secretary of State, allowed that very uranium transaction to proceed? Would this not make for a strong case of “Russian collusion”?
Was there Russian interference in campaigns? Absolutely. And this will not stop, even though Obama famously told Putin to “cut it out.” Vladimir did not listen to Obama’s words anymore than he’ll listen to Trumps. However, did the Russians interfere with the elections? Absolutely not.
President Trump should have stuck to his initial instincts, doubled-down, and made the distinction that so many on the Left and the media want to leave muddled together. Words have meanings and Trump needs to keep using the words he knows instead of trying to become the politician he is not. Double-speak, walking back or massaging words is what politicians do. It is a great tool for those who love to talk.
I prefer actions. I prefer accomplishments. This is something Trump has been able to deliver consistently since taking office and that is the person I want to see continuing his work in the Oval Office.
Mr. President, leave the double-speak behind. The suit you’ve been wearing fits you much better anyway.