Observations On The Donald Trump/ Russia/ Hacked E-Mails Story

Hillary Putin Trump

I swear I am  trying to post on interesting ethics issues that have nothing to do with Hillary, Donald, either party or  their hot-button issues. My issue scout Fred and others have sent me scores of topics that are waiting on the runway. Then things like this happen.

To catch you up: After Wikileaks released embarrassing e-mails, hacked from the DNC, showing collusion by the supposedly neutral arm of the Democratic Party to ensure the nomination for Hillary Clinton, Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook told  ABC’s “This Week,” “It’s troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”

Then Trump said at a news conference in Florida, “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” the Republican nominee “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Immediately Democrats, partisan lawyers, left-wing pundits and Trump-haters flipped out. Carl Bernstein, the far left half of Woodward and Bernstein, said Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.” Others wrote that his comments were “treason” or “virtual treason.” Clinton senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said, “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.”

Trump, predictably, said that he was being sarcastic.

Observations:

1. I trust that my disgust for Donald Trump, his values, his character and his candidacy have been clearly and thoroughly explained here, as they will continue to be. Nonetheless, basic ethics requires that he be treated fairly by the news media, and I will continue to point out the media’s bias against him, Republicans, and anyone standing in Hillary Clinton’s way as she attempts to corrupt the government and the culture by infecting both with her grubby ambition and dishonesty. This is one more episode of journalism bias in what will be a long, long trail leading right to election day.

2. The Democratic Party’s spin on the e-mail scandal is self-evidently desperate and misleading, not that this appears to discourage Clinton-supporters in the social media from adopting it. The central issue is what the hacked e-mails show, and what the DNC and the Clinton campaign did to rig the nomination. Mook’s deflection, which a fair and competent host would have immediately rejected (but George Stephanopoulos is a loyal former Clinton staffer and confidante with a conflict of interest), was a miserable, dishonest tactic. Naturally, it was quickly adopted by most of the party and its partisan journalist supporters. Sad, weak, Martin O’Malley  chimed in,

“For my own part, I’m far more outraged about the fact that the Russians are burglarizing the Democratic National Committee headquarters…And I think, as Americans, more of us should be concerned about why it is that Russians would be attacking the Democratic National Committee.”

That’s right, we should be more concerned about how Wikileaks got the e-mails than the fact that Hillary Clinton and the DNC colluded to fix the democratic process, because we’re going to elect Putin as President. In his statement, O’Malley actually had the brass to reference Watergate, which ultimately was not about Richard Nixon having the DNC burglarized, but his attempts to fix an election using dirty tricks and secret schemes. Sound familiar? And O’Malley was a candidate in the process the e-mails showed was rigged! Never mind, he fell right into line: “Thank-you, ma’am, may I have another?”

3. Reason, which is a non-partisan observer, correctly points out:

“But that the investigation is just now starting hasn’t stopped the Democrats and Clinton campaign to attempt to deflect away from the contents of the leak to try to implicate Donald Trump as Putin’s stooge…And while there’s a compelling case to be made that a Trump presidency would trend toward that direction, this response is a generalized dismissal of what the email contents actually say about the Democratic Party’s direction and how it feels about those who are trying to influence the party’s stances. Putin may or may not have played some role in the hacking of the DNC, and certainly it’s proper that the government investigate and track down who is responsible. But neither Putin nor Russian hackers are responsible for the way the party treated Sanders and its supporters. And this attempt to quickly deflect the subject matter over to Trump and Putin has the side effect (intentional or not) of again dismissively treating Sanders and his supporters’ concerns as largely irrelevant to the establishment.

It is also real, old-fashioned, McCarthyism, an attempt to smear an opponent by linking him to Russia.

4. The “treason” argument is beyond ridiculous, and dishonest. I refuse to believe that anyone—Bernstein, Sullivan, Putin himself–believes that Trump wasn’t being sarcastic. I saw the statement, and I laughed at it out loud. Yes, it was outrageous, irresponsible, intemperate, below-the-belt, provocative, silly…all those things that Trump is on a regular basis. It was also obviously trolling. When the critics say, “It was outrageous! Nobody’s ever said anything like this! It’s incredible!”  shouldn’t the first assumption be that it was tongue-in-cheek, especially knowing the source?

5. Moreover, Trump asked for the e-mails Hillary has already destroyed. He couldn’t possibly call on Russia to hack her e-mails now; either they were already hacked without any encouragement from him, or they can’t be hacked at all. Why doesn’t anyone make that clear?

6. What he was doing, if his statement was serious and there was any chance that it would be taken seriously by Putin,  is calling on a possible hacker to release already stolen e-mails to the press, which would dutifully publish them, thus arguably helping Trump’s candidacy. That is encouraging a foreign power to interfere in our sovereign elections, and that is stupid, reckless, irresponsible creates an appearance of impropriety and many other things, but it’s probably not illegal. He didn’t offer any quid for that quo. He didn’t make his desires known to Russia in secret. No, this was just one more example of what an untrustworthy jerk this man is, and why making him President is like handing nuclear weapon codes to a 10-year old.

7.  As it frequently is for Trump–and yes, this does contradict my conclusion that the man is a fool—this episode not only exposed a blatant and important Hillary lie, but induced her campaign to admit to it. Remember, Sullivan said, “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.” The Clinton campaign statement said that Trump calling for the 33,000 missing e-mails were a “national security issue.”  Wait: Hillary stated and has continue to say that she only wiped out personal e-mails with no relationship to the State Department or her government duties. How then could hacking them or seeking them constitute “espionage”? Charles Krauthammer has argued that Trump set a trap, and the Clinton campaign fell into it. If this is a “national security issue,”  Clinton’s repeated assertions that the missing 33,000 emails were all of a personal nature,and  not work-related, must have been a lie.

“So the Clinton campaign ends up admitting that perhaps there really is work-related – if not classified – stuff on the emails which she deleted,” he said, suggesting that could be grounds for a charge of obstruction, declaring that the Clinton campaign has been caught in a “complete contradiction.”

 

___________________________

Sources: TPM, Politico1, 2

Graphic: DC Clothesline

 

15 thoughts on “Observations On The Donald Trump/ Russia/ Hacked E-Mails Story

  1. This election takes one absurd turn after another. This whole election cycle is nucking futs! Eight years of Obama and now this election cycle; it doesn’t matter what happens in this election, or who ends up in office, the view of the United States across the globe is going to be in the shitter, if it already isn’t there now and to be perfectly truthful it probably rightfully belongs there.

  2. Glenn Reynolds has it exactly right:

    TROLL LEVEL: SUPREME GALACTIC OVERLORD. Trump Calls on Russia to Find Missing Clinton Emails.

    Supreme Galactic Overlord, indeed. This may be the highest-level trolling in the history of trolling, and from a man I loath. Still, credit where it’s due.

  3. Worst comment I’ve seen on this kerfuffle: Our President, Barack Obama, when asked whether he thought Russia had hacked the DNC emails said, and I am not making this up, “Anything’s possible.” If anyone knows definitively, shouldn’t it be Barack Obama? And shouldn’t he stop acting as if he’s in a bullshit session in a dorm room?

    • Other Bill said, “If anyone knows definitively, shouldn’t it be Barack Obama?”

      Did you know that the President of the United States is not the sole keeper of all knowledge? Plus; the President of the United States is not “required” to divulge all knowledge he retains.

      • All he’d need to do is ask someone, like his CIA director and then give an adult answer to the question as he sees fit. Instead he said something completely moronic at a minimum most likely in order to keep a Democratic spin operation going.

        • Where did I say only the President would know? Where did I say he was obligated to divulge everything he knows? He’s under a duty not to act like a self-indulgent teenager and not obfuscate in order to gain a political advantage.

          • Other Bill asked, “Where did I say only the President would know?”

            You did say “If anyone knows definitively, shouldn’t it be Barack Obama?” How exactly were readers supposed to interpret that question?

            Other Bill said, “He’s under a duty not to act like a self-indulgent teenager and not obfuscate in order to gain a political advantage.”

            You do realize that you’re talking about President Obama, he is all about gaining political advantage.

  4. A while ago I said that there is a trend “…showing us that the core things that make us who we have been, who we currently are, and who we have the potential to be are being manipulated by the destruction of root moral character.”

    This trend is becoming more and more obvious as this election cycle progresses.

    I think the dumbing down of America is nearing it’s low point. I know that Charlotte Iserbyt is considered to be quite the crackpot by some people but there are some reasonably accurate things that Charlotte Iserbyt said years ago about the dumbing down trend of America and how it would effect the USA, but no one really listened, including me. Look her up if you’re interested but be prepared for a few moments of genuine intelligent enlightenment randomly placed between some really long winded boring stuff. Useful information if you have a tendency to lean that way; my sister really likes this lady. Personally, I think she shared a few valid points about the dumbing down of America, as for loads and loads of accurate predictions and conclusions, not so much.

  5. What he was doing, if his statement was serious and there was any chance that it would be taken seriously by Putin, is calling on a possible hacker to release already stolen e-mails to the press, which would dutifully publish them, thus arguably helping Trump’s candidacy.

    I know this will come as a shock to you, but national intel services have been known to make stuff up, and release damaging letters, emails etc that are actually falsified.

    Difficult to believe, I know.

    They have even been known to release genuine material gathered from other sources, changing the attribution.

    If the originals had been destroyed, how could it be shown that the “released material” is bogus?

  6. “You said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back. Because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”

  7. You know, one cannot help but wonder if this could be a false flag operation.

    If the telltales that indicate the Russians were doing the hacking are known, then they could be counterfeited to implicate them.

    Or so it would seem to me.

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