Paul Ryan appeared on CBS with Norah O’Donnell yesterday and the obvious question of Russian meddling in the 2016 election came up.
NORAH O’DONNELL: I was just listening to the senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and I know you know the leading Republican, Sen. Burr, who you served with. And he said this is so important what’s going on, they are investigating Russia was involved in a covert operation…
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Absolutely.
O’DONNELL: …to influence our election in 2016.
RYAN: They are doing it to other countries right now.
O’DONNELL: Yes, and overt and covert in Europe, Germany, France.
RYAN: Yes. Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and I sent a letter to the secretaries of state before the election saying, “Heads up, be on the watch out, something is happening. Guard your data.” So we all knew this before the election. We all knew, Russia was trying to meddle with our election. And we already know right now they are trying to do it with other countries.
What is illustrative is that Ryan says congressional leadership did something about it, to wit, they warned secretaries of state to be on guard and it appears the warning was heeded and no voting data was compromised (other than in Detroit). Compare and contrast this with the actions of the FBI which is now claiming it also saw the threat and wanted to run an op-ed in the New York Times. When that plan fell through they went on as before.
It is also refreshing is that Ryan comes across as reasonable about the situation. Unlike the “some quarters” who would see this as an “act of war” which Dick Cheney referenced earlier in the week, Ryan knows this is just how Russia operates. The challenge is not to bluster about it but find ways of either counteracting it or making the cost too high for the potential gain.