Earlier today, President Trump tweeted out a video from his official @POTUS account which grossly misrepresented what FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers had been saying about the effects of the Russian cyberwarfare campaign that was waged during the 2016 election.
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), fishing for some useful sound bytes, asked the NSA if they were able to determine whether or not Russian hackers had interfered with the change of vote tallies in Michigan and other battleground states where the vote was very close.
Director Rogers’ response was taken and presented by Trump as proof that this was the end of the issue and that the Russians hadn’t influenced the electoral process – but that was obviously not the question that was asked.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) refused to let Trump get away with such a cheap attempt to exonerate himself. Later in the hearing, Himes read out the tweet to Comey and asked him whether or not he had actually intended to make a comment on the results of Russia’s electoral interference or if he was taken out of context – and Comey’s responses says it all:
“We’ve offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it’s never something that we looked at. It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today.”
While Russia may have not actually succeeded in literally manipulating the vote counts in Trump’s favor – though not for a lack of trying – there is no doubt that the strategic release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hilary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta – and the accompanying conspiracy firestorm that right-wing media was able to spin up about the relatively pedestrian email contents – certainly played a part in swaying public opinion against Clinton.
Whether or not the Russian hacks did or didn’t succeed in swaying public opinion is ultimately beside the point. The important question that we are now asking is whether Donald Trump and his camp were aware of the efforts on his behalf and whether or not they were actively involved in a quid-pro-quo with a hostile foreign power – and we must not rest until we have the answers to those critical questions.
Watch Hines’ question and Comey’s response here:
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 20, 2017