The Washington Post seems to be in a bit of a snit that the narrative they, at the behest of the Obama administration, have been pushing for the last couple of months is not gaining traction with Republicans.
Donald Trump this week finally came around (kind of) to the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia engaged in hacking in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. election. But he remains dubious about its conclusion that the effort was intended to help him — or that it did so.
And as it turns out, so do the vast majority of Republicans.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll — conducted, notably, before the Wednesday news conference at which Trump said he thought Russia did it — 64 percent of Republicans disagreed that “the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election through hacking.” Just 29 percent agreed.
Digging down deeper, of the 29 percent of Republicans who agreed that Russia tried, just 43 percent of them said it was intended to help Trump. A majority — 51 percent — disagreed.
So that’s about 1 in 8 Republicans who believe the intelligence community’s consensus conclusion that Russia hacked and that it specifically did so to help Trump in the 2016 election.
(The whole poll is worth reading because it shows Democrats believe Trump is too friendly with Israel, and that they are just as likely to support the Palestinians as they are Israel. Unsurprisingly, Democrats show strong support for Obama’s foreign policy.)
Of course, you can’t have arrived at this conclusion by weighing the evidence, you have to have arrived at it because of Trump.
So here we are in a situation in which a large portion of one political party in the United States doubts and dislikes the intelligence community — owing in large part, no doubt, to Trump’s frequent efforts to continue to sow that doubt.
Actually, I’m pretty much in the sample that the Post’s Aaron Blake is sniveling about.
These are the questions that he is talking about:
Do you think that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election through hacking, or not?
The answer to this, to anyone who has been awake, is no. Attacks were made of the voter registration systems in a few states. Those systems were not tampered with. There is no allegation, much less proof, that any votes were actually cast or lost because of the Russians. The 95,000 votes that mysteriously appeared in North Carolina to give the Democrats the governor’s mansion had much more of an impact than the Russians.
36a. (If yes/interfered q36) Do you think that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election specifically to help Donald Trump become president, or not?
Answering ‘yes’ to this question really speaks much more to the respondent’s dislike of Trump and their blind acquiescence to what they are told to believe than it is based on any weighing of evidence.
So far the sum total of the evidence we, the public, have seen is two Obama appointees, James Clapper and John Brennan, saying “trust me.” Clapper is the same guy who claims the rise of ISIS and the crapstorm in Syria were beyond the ability of humans to predict… though they were predicted by a lot of people. Clapper is the guy who lied to the US Senate under oath.
The report the FBI and Homeland Security released on the hacking of the DNC has been revealed to have been based on an investigation conducted by a private company hired by the DNC and the DNC refused to let the FBI examine their email servers. In short, it is not an impartial report, it is a “work for hire.” Since its publication the report has been savaged by virtually every other cyber-security expert, even by those who agree with its conclusions. The FBI report, however, has actually had the effect of decreasing certainty about what happened with the DNC. So, while I’m open to believing that Russians hacked the DNC and they did so at the behest of the Russian government, right now we have zero empirical proof that compels us to either believe this is the case or be rightfully accused of refusing to accept the truth.
Even if I believe the Russian government was behind the hack, there is absolutely no evidence that it had any intent beyond sowing discord and confusion. The idea that releasing the DNC emails helped Trump is ridiculous on its face. If it did anything at all it simply angered Bernie Sanders supporters. If the campaign was aimed at helping Trump we should be laughing and pointing at Putin because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and her lead in the polls and approval rating went up in the weeks following the release of the DNC emails.
Some of us, we who were alive in 2003 and 2004, have other reasons to be skeptical.
We remember the ridiculous Valerie Plame affair which was largely cooked up by the CIA. We remember the CIA’s public affairs office rushing the clearance of a vehemently anti-Bush book by the former head of the “bin Laden unit” so it would be published during the presidential campaign. We remember the steady stream of leaks out of the CIA designed to cast a false impression on what was happening in Iraq. We’re looking at the steady stream of leaks from the intelligence community that are obviously intended to damage Trump. And we think, “trust me” is really not a very strong selling point.