If Vladimir Putin were so inclined, I might expect to see the Russian president unfurl a banner in Red Square that reads, in Russian of course, “Mission Accomplished.”
The Russians meddled in our 2016 election. They sought to influence its outcome. They attacked our electoral process. They declared a form of war against our democratic process.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded as much. I believe them. The winner of the 2016 presidential election, Donald John Trump, has yet to draw that conclusion.
Oh, no. Instead, he has disparaged our intelligence apparatus. He has sought to deflect criticism of the Russians through equivocation, saying that “it could be anybody” who meddled in our election.
Now, do I believe the Russians actually swung the election in Trump’s favor? Do I believe their meddling, by itself, resulted in a Trump victory? No. I believe the president defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton legally. I also believe Clinton made too many fatal mistakes down the stretch to salvage a campaign that she should have socked away long before Election Day.
But you see, the Russians have succeeded famously. They have thrown the U.S. political discussion into near hysteria. Accordingly, they have accomplished one of their primary missions, which is to cast doubt on our electoral process.
We’ve got congressional committees examining the interference. The FBI is examining it, too. The president fired former FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing,” and the Justice Department has appointed a first-rate special counsel, Robert Mueller, to conduct an independent probe of that Russia matter.
There might be indictments forthcoming. The president himself might find himself in a world of political hurt. Trump has been so consumed by this investigation that he cannot take the time he needs to fill critical spots within the nation’s executive government branch.
I cannot predict how all these investigations will conclude. I feel fairly confident in suggesting that no matter the outcome, that Vladimir Putin has succeeded wildly in undermining the electoral process of the world’s remaining superpower.