On Friday the declassified version of the intelligence report blaming Russia for hacking Democratic email during the presidential campaign was released. The report said what almost everybody already knows — Russians were involved in a coordinated effort to boost the campaign of Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of getting elected. But Donald Trump and his supporters have steadfastly refused to admit that their campaign received a boost from Trump’s BFF Vladimir Putin. And nothing in the report from the Office Of the Director Of National Intelligence seems to have changed that.
Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway returned to CNN on Sunday morning to talk about the report. Host Jake Tapper starts with a clip of what Trump had to say about hacking allegations in the September presidential debate. Then he cuts right to the chase, asking Conway, “Now that president-elect Trump has been formally briefed, has he been persuaded that Russia did carry out a comprehensive cyber-campaign against Hillary Clinton, and what is he prepared to do about it?”
Conway, as expected, immediately tries to muddy the waters, mentioning that Russia, China, and other foreign countries have been involved in hacking U.S. institutions for some time. Then she distorts the contents of the report, saying the report indicates any attempt to influence the election failed. Tapper corrects her, pointing out that the report says there is no evidence of Russia directly manipulating votes by tampering with voting machines. In addition, he says, it was not in the investigators’ charge to determine whether hacking changed any votes.
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The issue, which Trump and his cronies refuse to admit, is not whether Russian interference changed anything — the issue is that they were able to access information that was then released in order to attempt to sway voters’ opinions. In other words, it matters less whether the hacking had any effect than it does that it took place at all.
Conway actually claims Trump’s victory proves the Russians were unsuccessful. She tells Tapper,
All of this amounts to a very simple fact. Which is, alleged attacks, alleged aspirations to interfere with our democracy failed. And they failed and we know that because Donald Trump won, because it has nothing to do with the hacks.
So there it is. Polls consistently showed Clinton ahead in several states she wound up losing. The Russians obviously had a preferred candidate, and that candidate won. To a logical person that says the Russians achieved their goal. But to Conway, and to anybody living in Trump’s alternative universe, all of those facts prove just the opposite.
Here is Conway’s conversation with Jake Tapper, via CNN: