Greg Sargent of The Washington Post reported today that Donald Trump has been lying about the Russian effort to influence the U.S. election. Trump tweeted Thursday:
If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?
This is not true. The entire intelligence came out with a joint statement on October 7th stating clearly the Russians were responsible for hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee. This morning Trump acknowledged there were complaints made about the Russians before Hillary lost in the tweet below.
Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate? 6:09 AM – 16 Dec 2016
Sargent argues that this tweet this morning demonstrates that Trump knows complaints were made Russian hacking before November 8th.
Trump is referring here to news that broke in late October: That a hacked email showed that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile may have leaked a Democratic primary debate question to Clinton’s campaign in advance. Brazile publicly blamed this leak on Russian hackers who were out to divide Democrats by feeding the perception among Bernie Sanders supporters that the DNC was putting its thumb on the scales for her. This built on a formal statement that the intelligence community put out earlier in October declaring itself “confident” that Russia was trying to interfere in the elections by hacking into DNC emails.
And so, by referring to this episode, what Trump is inadvertently revealing here is that, yes, the complaint about Russian hacking to hurt Clinton did in fact precede the election, and this was widely and publicly known.
Sargent is therefore making the case that these two tweets demonstrate the the president-elect of the United States is knowingly lying about the counterintelligence program of a foreign power. Trump is now claiming there were no complaints made about Russian hacking prior to the election; this is demonstrably false and his tweets demonstrate that his is aware they are false.
The fact that Trump would knowingly lie about something as obvious as whether complaints were made about Russian hacking before the election forces one to acknowledge that he may also be lying about other things: like whether our country knew the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC.
The final presidential debate took place on October 19th, 12 days after the joint statement described above was released. In this debate, Secretary Clinton referred to the joint statement from the intelligence community that blamed the Russians for hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee. In response, Trump stated,
She has no idea whether it is Russia, China or anybody else. She has no idea. Hillary, you have no idea. Our country has no idea. Yea, I doubt it. I doubt it. She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has out smarted her every step of the way. Excuse me. Putin has out smarted her in Syria. He has out smarted her every step of the way. (4:25)
A senior U.S. Intelligence professional told NBC news in October that Trump’s comments were a “willful misrepresentation,”
To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation, said the official. The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear.
When Trump says “our country has no idea” whether Russia was responsible for hacking the emails of the DNC, he misleads the American people and he gives aid to the Russian counterintelligence program described in the joint statement released by the intelligence community on October 7th. When Trump implies there were no complaints about Russian hacking before the election, it is another lie that provides us more evidence he was also knowingly lying in the third debate.
Let’s put Trump’s behavior in perspective. He has told multiple lies that provide cover for the counterintelligence program of a foreign power. During WWII Toguri D’Aquino was convicted of treason for her participation in wartime radio broadcasts called The Zero Hour during WWII (under the popular name of “Tokyo Rose”). It was the first of many radio programs broadcast by Japan in World War II featuring Allied prisoners of war (POWs) reading current news and playing music and messages from POWs to their families back home and former fellow soldiers and sailors still serving in the Pacific theater. All this was mixed with demoralizing commentary and appeals to surrender or sabotage the Allied war effort.
D’Aquino was arrested by the U.S. military authorities and transported to San Francisco on September 25th, 1948 where she was charged by federal prosecutors with the crime of treason for “adhering to, and giving aid and comfort to, the Imperial Government of Japan during World War II”(Duus, Masayo (1979). Tokyo Rose: Orphan of the Pacific (Kodansha International Ltd.), pp. 129, 133-34). Trump’s tweets and comments during the debates have “given aid and comfort to” the Russian Federation during their cyberattack on the U.S. election.
Sargent describes how Trump’s dishonesty will serve to further isolate him going forward.
There will soon be confirmation hearings for two retired generals Trump has picked for his Cabinet — James Mattis as defense secretary, and John Kelly as head of the department of homeland security. They will be asked about the intelligence community’s confidence that Russia did try to swing our election, and what should be done about it. One presumes they will treat the topic with the gravity it deserves. Meanwhile, Trump — and let me remind you, he will soon be doing this as president of the United States — will be dithering around with tweets designed to spin his own reality about what happened that everyone knows is straight out of la-la land, including (presumably) him.
That can’t go on for too much longer. Can it?
These confirmation hearing can therefore be used to draw sharp contrasts between responsible cabinet appointees who must tell the truth in order to get confirmed and a president-elect who has continually lied about the Russian effort to influence the election. These confirmation hearing can therefore also be used to demonstrate the president-elect has been engaging in treason.