Why the "Russians Helped Trump" Story Is Hogwash

TRIGGER WARNING. If you are a deranged anti-Trump wacko, don’t read any further. If you do you will need to seek a safe space.

A couple of weeks ago someone in the CIA leaked a “consensus” judgment, allegedly of the intelligence community that the Russians had mucked about in the US election for the express purpose of electing Donald Trump. As we’ve seen since then, the FBI disagrees with that assessment as does the director of national intelligence. In fact, the latest spin flatly contradicts everything that has been revealed to date:

A US official familiar with the US intelligence assessment of the Russia election-related hacking said the understanding is that the operation was carried out with sophisticated hacking tools, the equivalent of those used by the US National Security Agency.

The official said the sophistication of the tools used means that a higher-level Russian government authority would have been required to carry the prolonged effort to steal emails and data from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, among other targets.

Except we know that is utter hogwash. The investigation into the DNC hack determined that is was more likely than not a Russian hacking group that had an extensive history. They were recognized by some to the sloppiness of their work, not by their sophistication. And we no for a fact that the only “tool” used to hack Podesta’s email was the tool who told him a transparent phishing attack was a legitimate email.

Another claim made by the same unnamed source was that the RNC was hacked but their email was not released. In fact, the FBI did a forensic analysis of the RNC server while investigating the DNC hack and found that it was not compromised. This, by the way, supports exactly what the RNC has been saying: that attacks were made on their email server but were not successful.

Be that as it may, one can believe that a) the Russians were involved and b) the attacks were aimed at meddling with our election and c) that the efforts were cleared by Putin and his mistress and still laugh at the idea that the hacks were designed to help Donald Trump.

The most important evidence is actually laying in plain sight. If one had to point to a single event that cut into Clinton’s already epic unpopularity it was her email scandal. In fact, her people, in addition to blaming the Russians, the phase of the the moon, partriarchy, and global warming for her defeat are also blaming FBI Direct James Comey’s letter to Congress shortly before the election. If one subscribes to the theory that the Russians were actively hacking stuff and trying to help Trump then one has to explain why her emails were never released.

Authorities are operating under the working assumption there is a high chance Hillary Clinton’s private server was breached, one source with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigation told Fox News – though there still are no digital fingerprints proving a breach.

The source said the server may have been hacked by up to five foreign intelligence agencies.

You might claim that the Russians are not among the “up to five” agencies that hacked her server but I think that makes you look somewhat less than serious.

The DNC hack got virtually zero traction in the media. Podesta’s got even less. The simple reason is that those emails were inside baseball. They were hugely amusing to people who follow politics closely but they were not even negative about Hillary Clinton and 99% didn’t even concern her.

But, arguendo, let’s go along with the idea that the Russians did prefer Trump over the woman who led the “reset” and who gave Russia exclusive rights to exploit all the uranium in the United States. Did it succeed?

First, let’s look at opinion of the voters. Surely, anything that led swarms of voters to decide to forsake Hillary for Cheeto Jesus would show up there.

This chart starts on July 1, 2016. Two dates to keep in mind. The first tranche of hacked DNC emails were released by Wikileaks on July 22, 2016. The publication of the Podesta emails started on October 7.

What is notable about this chart is that on July 1, Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable was 40.1/55.6. That is as stunning 15 point deficit. On November 7, she was at 41.6/55.0. Statistically she was unchanged. But you could even say she had gained a point in favorability since July.

If the Russians were trying to help Trump, it didn’t do much to damage Clinton’s image with the voters. Well if it didn’t hurt Clinton did it help Trump? Again, this is favorability ratings starting July 1.

Trump’s favorability rating is actually worse than Clinton’s throughout the course of the summer and the tightening begins after November 1. In fact, Trump won the election with a worse favorable/unfavorable rating than Clinton.

Finally, let’s look at the polling for the same time frame

As you can see, Hillary jumped out to a lead after the DNC emails were released. After October 7, Clinton again increases her lead. She continues to gain strength until after October 17.

Credulous, partisan, ill-informed people will believe what they will. There are Democrats and Rand Paul supporters who still believe Bush stole the election and we went to war for Haliburton. But the body of facts indicates two things. First, the Russians did not try to help Trump. The most effective way to help Trump would have been to assist the investigation into Hillary Clinton by leaking emails, particularly personal ones, that were stolen from her email server by the Russians. Second, even if they tried the Russians did not help Trump. Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable rating improved slightly over the course of the hacks and each of the email releases correspond with Clinton gaining in the polls. I’m not saying there was causation but we can say rather conclusively that those email leaks did not hurt Clinton.

If the Russians were trying to help Trump they were either not very good at it or they were playing some kind of 11-dimensional chess that is only visible to Putin and the CIA.