How can Trump pretend Russia didn’t interfere?
A commentator on the National Public Radio show “On Point” had an interesting analogy. He said (I am paraphrasing): Imagine if, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush had denied that al-Qaida was involved, or denied that anyone was hurt in the attacks, or even denied that the attacks had occurred. There would have been justifiable outrage. More importantly, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for our security forces to take any effective steps to prevent a future terrorist attack.
We have a president who has consistently denied that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, saying at one point, “It could have been some fat guy in New Jersey.” At times President Trump has even questioned whether there was any interference at all.
Christopher Wray, director of the FBI; Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA; and other heads of national security agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. They were unanimous in opining that the Russians did indeed meddle in the 2016 presidential election, that they have already begun efforts to subvert the 2018 midterm elections and that there was no reason to believe that they would not do so in 2020. They also testified that the president has limited his oversight of their efforts to a vague instruction to “keep me posted.”
If citizens cannot be confident that the president, senators, representatives and other elected officials legitimately won the elections that put them in office, the very essence of our democracy is threatened.
Whether one believes, as I do, that the Trump campaign actively encouraged and colluded with the Russians, the president’s profound disinterest in the matter is troubling, not to say bizarre. We are unlikely to be able to effectively combat the subversion of our elections as long as Trump insists on pretending that it never happened.