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Obama, Trudeau, and the Morality of Electoral Interference

Barack Obama's recent endorsement of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is an example of why not all foreign efforts to influence elections are wrong.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau (2016).

Over the last three years, many Americans have been angered and distressed at Russia's efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, and concerned about future foreign interference. The assumption underlying much of the discussion of this issue is that foreign influence on electoral outcomes is inherently wrong, and should be avoided as much as possible. For understandable reasons, liberal Democrats have been especially incensed at foreign interference, given that it was used to help bolster their political adversary Donald Trump.

A few days ago, however, former President Barack Obama endorsed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is in the midst of a very tight campaign (election day is tomorrow). The election looks to be very close. Obama is very popular in Canada, and his endorsement could potentially help swing the outcome.

Some of Trudeau's Canadian political opponents denounced Obama's endorsement as reprehensible foreign interference. But negative reaction in the US is noticeable by its near-total absence, particularly among liberal Democrats. Is it hypocritical to denounce Putin's actions in 2016, while giving Obama a pass? Is it all just a matter of whose ox is being gored?

One possible distinction is that Obama was no longer president when he endorsed Trudeau, whereas Putin was and is the ruler of Russia. But, if foreign electoral interference is inherently wrong, why should it matter whether the perpetrators were government officials or not? Few of those who denounce Russian interference in the 2016 election would be mollified if it turned out that it was all the work of Russian private citizens, without direction from the Kremlin.

Moreover, Obama sought to influence foreign political processes when he was president, as well. For example, he publicly urged British voters to reject Brexit in the 2016 referendum on that issue, just as Donald Trump supported the other side in that referendum, and in later political fights over Brexit. Was that morally reprehensible interference in the British political process?

In my view, the answer to these questions lies in recognizing that foreign influence on electoral processes is not inherently wrong. Its justification depends on goals pursued, and the methods used. These factors are what differentiate Obama's actions from Putin's. Moreover, in most cases the justice of attempts to exercise electoral influence does not depend on whether the person attempting to influence the outcome is a foreigner or not.

I expounded on these points in greater detail here:

I agree with the conventional wisdom that Russia's intervention in the 2016 election was morally reprehensible. But the morality of electoral interference is not as straightforward as most people think….

Many discussions of electoral interference implicitly assume that elections should be decided by a nation's voters without any influence from foreigners and their ideas. But such a position makes little sense. The origin of an idea says nothing about its validity. As the great  libertarian economist F.A. Hayek put it, "The growth of ideas is an international process… It is no real argument to say that an idea is un-American, un-British, or un-German, nor is a mistaken or vicious ideal better for having been conceived by one of our compatriots." If ideas developed or conveyed by foreigners influence American voters for the better, we should be happy to see that happen….

In some cases, attempts to influence foreign elections are not only morally permissible, but even praiseworthy [depending on the issues at stake]…

Sometimes, the problem with electoral interference is not the intervention as such, but the tactics used. For example, the Russian government was likely behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Hacking private computer servers is a violation of property rights and privacy, and is certainly morally reprehensible. But the nature of the wrong does not depend on the identity of the perpetrator….

The Russians also relied heavily on deception and misinformation intended to exploit voter ignorance and bias. This too was wrong. At least as a general rule, there should be a moral presumption against deceiving voters. But, once again, it's not clear that it's worse when done by foreigners than by citizens of the country being influenced….

Sadly, lying and manipulation of public ignorance are not the sole province of Russian agents. They are standard political tactics of native politicians in both the US and many other countries….

The point… not to excuse Russian deception by  "whataboutist"  invocation of lying by US politicians. Far from it. Rather, it is to highlight the fact that the nature of the wrong here does not depend on the nationality of the perpetrator….

This gets us to what may be the most reprehensible aspect of the Russian intervention. The hacking, trolling, and lying was in the service of a deeply unjust cause: promoting the interests of a brutal authoritarian regime and furthering Russian President Vladimir Putin's global campaign against liberty and democracy…. That motive makes the Russian effort particularly reprehensible. But, again, the reason why it deserves condemnation has little to do with the nationality of the people involved….

When judged from the standpoint of goals and methods, Obama's attempts to influence the Canadian election and the Brexit referendum look very different from Putin's efforts in 2016. I am no great fan of Justin Trudeau and his ideology, and would not endorse him myself. But promoting him for the sake of strengthening progressivism in North America is a far cry from Putin's awful agenda. Similar points apply to the debate over Brexit (an issue on which I actually largely agree with Obama, though there are serious contrary arguments). Obama also did not use such reprehensible tactics as hacking or spreading disinformation in promoting Trudeau and Brexit (though he has not been above using deception in some of his domestic political battles).

It may well be that Obama's attempts to influence British and Canadian politics were unwise. They may fail to achieve their objectives (as clearly happened in the case of Brexit), and may needlessly antagonize key constituencies in two of America's closest allies. There are good pragmatic reasons why political leaders in liberal democracies generally remain neutral in each other's elections. But what Obama did was not intrinsically wrong.

In sum, there are good reasons to differentiate between Obama and Putin. But the price of doing so is recognizing that not all foreign attempts to influence electoral outcomes are wrong. In some situations, information from foreign sources might actually have a beneficial effect on voters. And, when "electoral interference" is morally wrong, it is usually for reasons having little to do with the nationality of the perpetrators.

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216 responses to “Obama, Trudeau, and the Morality of Electoral Interference

  1. I have no problem if Putin had (or will) PUBLICLY announced that he supports Candidate Trump . . . or even that Russia supports the election/re-election of Trump. The public will assess the endorsement, the source of the endorsement, and will–quite rightly–conclude that this endorsement is a net plus or net negative. And that is what Obama did, of course.

    It is the deception that makes it so insidious. (I, personally, see a big difference between deceptive advertising from American citizens and similar deceptive ads from hostile foreigners–Americans, presumably, act out of the interest of working for what they see as the country’s best interest, while foreigners will very very often be motivated by very different factors.)

    If you can show me that Obama helped spearhead a *stealth* campaign, then I’d start to make more of a moral equivalence between Obama and Putin on this one issue.

    1. What is the evidence that Trump spearheaded a ‘stealth campaign’ with Putin to steal the election? I thought so. Also every major nation always interferes with every other major nations election. Its not a concept that was invented in 2016 like the MSM would have you believe.

      1. Either read the Mueller Report or Seth Abramson’s Proof of Conspiracy.

        1. You mean the ‘I won’t say either way but the ball’s in your court hint hint’, report? Yeah, if this is the best they could get from a guy who clearly hates trump its not exactly the slam dunk video of Putin ordering around Trump in a Sith robe that the media acts like they have. Really, the gulf between reality and the narrative you’re trying to put out is hilarious.

          1. ” if this is the best they could get from a guy who clearly hates trump its not exactly the slam dunk video of Putin ordering around Trump in a Sith robe that the media acts like they have.”

            Hell, the most damning thing the media has is from someone who absolutely LOVES Trump. Rudy does more damage to Trump than any 10 FBI agents.

    2. And when obama sent his campaign team to help influence Israel’s election, they did so quietly. Likewise when hillary asked for help from the Ukraine and Steele. Funneling money through a law firm to hide it.

      If you were not such an ignorant hypocrite your statement would be funny.

      1. Steele wasn’t a foreign government – including ‘Ukraine’ as a player in that story is deceitful.

        But I do think Obama and Israel was a bad idea.

        But it’s nothing like the level of what Trump is asking other countries to do – i.e. gin up fake investigations to play on the world stage. Or what Russia did, i.e. Internet manipulation.

        Of course, even if it were at the same level, that doesn’t resolve Trump or Russia of anything. The whattaboutism of failed paralells is all y’all got these days.

        1. Where did Trump ask another country to make up wrongdoings by a rival? Go ahead and list it I’m waiting.

          1. Apparently you weren’t smart enough to understand what Trump was asking from Zelensky.

        2. But it’s nothing like the level of what Trump is asking other countries to do – i.e. gin up fake investigations to play on the world stage. Or what Russia did, i.e. Internet manipulation.

          Actually, Obama’s interference with Israel was worse.

        3. Two of Steele’s sources were Kremlin agents.

        4. SarcastrO wrote: “But I do think Obama and Israel was a bad idea.”

          I like most of your comment, but you should have worded this differently. President Obama used powers of the executive branch to attempt to bring down Netanyahu. That is /worse/ than a “bad idea.” It was largely done (as well as Americans can actually do it, which is almost not at all) stealthily. That does go in the direction of Putin’s actions.

          1. It falls on the bad side of electoral interference.

            Though resources and people are not the same as covert hacking and leaking coordinated with the opposing campaign.

    3. I agree with santamonica811’s point here – that it is the hidden nature of Putin’s actions that distinguishes it from other forms of electoral interference. I think that’s consistent with one of Ilya’s main points: that foreign electoral interference is not inherently bad.
      But I don’t think Ilya’s correct when he says that “the most reprehensible aspect of the Russian intervention” was that it was “in the service of a deeply unjust cause: promoting the interests of a brutal authoritarian regime and furthering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s global campaign against liberty and democracy….” That is surely reprehensible; but it would also be reprehensible if it were in service of a just cause. If you told me that Obama had secretly funded pro-Trudeau groups – or, worse, that the US government had done so – or that the Norwegian government, say, secretly funded efforts to elect “green” congressional candidates, I would place those in the “reprehensible” category, even though they are not “in the service of a deeply unjust cause.”

  2. This could become a complicated discussion.

    The shorter version is that there is zero analogy between what Obama did out in the open with regard to Trudeau, and the Trump/Russia conspiracy to subvert American popular sovereignty in the dark. The comparison should not even be attempted. No similarity would be evident unless the Trump/Russia conspiracy were first purged of its distinguishing odious features.

    1. One of the reasons there is zero analogy, is that Obama actually DID endorse Trudeau, while the “Trump/Russia conspiracy” is a figment of your imagination.

      1. The Russians thought they’d get better results without Trump’s help than with it. He’s on tape as saying he’d have been more than happy to conspire, and in fact would definitely do so in the future.

    2. Its not all that complicated

      Orange Man: Bad
      Obama doing the same thing for all intents and purposes: Good

      By: Ilya Somin (Shocker I know)

    3. When you excuse your side for what you accuse the other side of, that is hypocrisy.

      1. When you reduce everything to “one side” and “the other side”, that’s stupid.

    4. Likewise the liberal response to losing the election is a far greater accomplishment than what Putin intended. You’re literally the useful idiot.

    5. “Trump/Russia conspiracy to subvert American popular sovereignty in the dark.”

      What Trump-Russia conspiracy are you referring to Stephen? Is the collusion in the room with us right now? You might want to talk to a therapist.

      Meanwhile, Trump has asked for Ukraine to shed light on matters that we’re currently in the dark on, so that things may be revealed to the American people. Obama dubbed himself the most transparent President, Trump actually is.

      1. I remember that. Obama gave himself the award while he barred the press from attending. The level of selfishness we are seeing from leftists and whomever else supports them is beyond disgusting. Under the Trump standard, Obama would have been impeached a million times over.

  3. “Few of those who denounce Russian interference in the 2016 election would be mollified if it turned out that it was all the work of Russian private citizens, without direction from the Kremlin.”

    So far the evidence alleging Putin directed election interference has been statements along the lines of, “Nothing happens in Russia without Putin knowing about it.” Those making noise will not be mollified by anything sort of Trump’s removal from office (and some will require jail time).

    1. So, when my email after my wife’s death in 2014 started receiving lonely hearts messages from Russian mail-order brides, that was Vladimir Putin?

      “Nothing happens in Russia without Putin knowing about it.”
      I’ll bet Putin and the Kremlin wish it were true. I’ll bet a lot of stuff happens in Russia without Putin knowing diddley squat. These people who paint Putin as superhuman ….

    2. The fact that one side still believes a few million dollars was far more effective than the billion Hillary spent should tell us something.

      1. No one thinks Hillary spent her money efficiently. Plus, of course, doing things legally is never the most efficient way to spend money.

        1. If spending it on lame FB memes through cutouts was several hundred times more cost effective, that’s what she would have been doing.

          The problem wasn’t how she was spending the money, it was the candidate. The idea that spending more money than your opponent is a generally effective way to win is a myth, concocted to justify campaign finance regulations. Once you’re spending enough to reach everybody, the amount you spend becomes largely irrelevant. At that point it’s all down to the candidate and their message.

          Spending more to get an unpersausive message heard, or an unlikable candidate seen, doesn’t help you. THAT is why Hillary managed to lose while out-spending Trump 2-1.

          Not because lame FB memes are a freakishly effective campaign method. Even if we were going to pretend that the Russians only ran ads for Trump.

          But they didn’t. They were also running ads for Hillary. They weren’t trying to make Trump win, they were trying to make the country ungovernable regardless of who won.

          1. “The idea that spending more money than your opponent is a generally effective way to win is a myth”

            One of those myths based 100% on fact.
            Compare the electoral success rate of the D’s and R’s, to all the other parties. Compare the spending history of the D’s and R’s, to the spending history of all the others.
            Almost like the D’s and R’s spend their way into holding on to the seats that matter, and lack of money holds the other guys back from achieving any kind of electoral success.

            1. Look, I have a long history of experience in third party politics, and what’s going on there in no way contradicts what I wrote:

              Once you’re spending enough to reach everybody, the amount you spend becomes largely irrelevant. At that point it’s all down to the candidate and their message.”

              One of the primary purposes of campaign finance “reform” has been making sure that third parties and challengers have a very, very difficult time reaching that point. Making sure they’re too money starved to be effective, that charisma and message won’t matter, because not enough people will be exposed to either to give you a chance.

              What’s keeping third parties down has nothing to do with the dynamics of major party Presidential campaigns, which are never significantly starved for resources. They’re basically always over the threshold for reaching everybody they want to reach, and into the zone where the amount you’re spending isn’t as important as the message you’re spending it to get out, or whether your candidate is appealing.

              1. “I have a long history of experience in third party politics”

                But also a long history of failing to learn from your experience, clearly.

                “The idea that spending more money than your opponent is a generally effective way to win is a myth”

                Spending less money than your opponent is a generally effective way to lose. And showing up in your Congressman’s office with a big pile of campaign cash is a generally effective way to get a face-to-face.

                1. James Pollock wrote: “Spending less money than your opponent is a generally effective way to lose”

                  Brett is correct. 538 had a full spread on how differentials in campaign contributions had little effect on campaign outcomes after the early days of the races. The size of campaign contributions was more an effect than a cause of success.

                  1. “538 had a full spread on how differentials in campaign contributions had little effect on campaign outcomes”

                    Let me guess… they looked at how the D candidates did, and how the R candidates did, and totally ignored everyone else… because they didn’t spend enough money to even get on the radar.

              2. With you there, Brett – money doesn’t really buy national elections.

                The smart money’s on statehouses.

      2. Few hundred thousand.

      3. The media gave Trump millions in free publicity. They covered him FAR more than any other Republican candidate, because they all thought it was such a hilarious idea. They didn’t seem to realize how much all that free coverage was helping him.

        1. That’s because they have so little understanding of the general population that they can’t tell what will actually appeal to them. They thought they were hurting Trump by reporting his positions.

          They did eventually figure out that reporting on his positions helped him, and switched to content free insults, but by then it was too late.

  4. Federal law does not distinguish among countries or motives in terms of foreign participation in US elections — direct contributions, etc.
    The lack of concern among US citizens to our interference in foreign elections which, historically, has gone far beyond open endorsements to money and coups, can be summed up as Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi.

    1. “direct contributions, etc.”

      Speech is not a “contribution”. If it was, use of foreign newspaper articles by a campaign would be illegal.

      1. “Speech is not a ‘contribution'”

        Sure it is. It’s not regulated, but it is a contribution.

  5. I stopped reading when I hit the sentence
    “The assumption underlying much of the discussion of this issue is that foreign influence on electoral outcomes is inherently wrong”, because I don’t know anybody who holds this position. It’s not the influence people object to… it’s the covert influence people object to. If Putin came out and said “I think it would be better for Russia if Trump won the election”, that would have influenced the election… but few people would complain. When Americans object to, say, the Assad government in Syria, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Gadhafi’s Libya, that’s no big deal, either. Now, when the bombs start dropping, there’s going to be some objections.

    In shorter form, it’s not the influence, it’s the form that influence takes, that got people a little bit cheesed.

    1. “it’s not the influence, it’s the form that influence takes”

      Let’s flesh this out a bit.

      – Justin Trudeau films a two minute anti-Trump video and pays to have it shown during the nightly news
      – Justin Trudeau gives money to an anti-Trump PAC

      #1 OK and #2 not? (Legality aside, am thinking of public opinion.)

      1. I don’t want to play your game. Let me counter-offer:

        Consider these two options:

        1) Foreign government expresses an interest in working with candidate #1, and suggests that it would be reluctant to engage with candidate #2. It is entirely truthful in both cases.

        2) Foreign government pays workers to pretend to be Americans on American websites that allow users to post content. What they post is misinformation calculated either to disincentivize voting at all, or designed to influence voters to select a candidate more to the foreign government’s liking. When questioned about it, they respond “what disinformation campaign? We have no such operation”

        Now… are 1 and 2 equally objectionable?
        I contend that the answer “no” is nearly universal.

        1. What is it when you foment a coup?

          1. “What is it when you foment a coup?”

            Not sure what you’re getting at here, so I’ll guess… a coup?

  6. This seems to overly complicate things. I’d say the key distinction is between overt and covert action. I see no harm in anyone endorsing anyone, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

    1. Anonymous (aka “covert”) speech is protected by the First amendment. Exaggeration, hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm (among other things) are also protected by the First amendment.

      Amazing to find so few people supportive of the first amendment on a so-called libertarian blog.

      1. “Amazing to find so few people supportive of the first amendment on a so-called libertarian blog.”

        You’ve made a logic error, and a fairly big one.
        Just because something is protected by the first amendment doesn’t mean I have to approve of it.

        And whether or not I approve of it says absolutely nothing about my support (or lack of support, as you seem to interpret it) for the first amendment.

        1. Its “Freedom of speech” not ” Freedom for approved sources and only Americams to say things I agree with.”

          1. I’m still free to think whatever I like about what someone said, aren’t I? Just because they’re free to say it, I’m not required to agree with it, right? Hell, I don’t even have to listen to what they say… it’s freedom of speech, not freedom of making people listen.

            1. “I’m still free to think whatever I like about what someone said, aren’t I? ”

              Of course, that is the essence of Free Speech. Individuals are capable of discerning information from noise.

              And you are also free to decide whether you think a source is credible simply because its anonymous, or even on the internet.

              1. OK, so we’re agreed, your statement that so many people here are not supporting the first amendment is nonsense, then.

          2. You do, however, have the right to know if it is a foreign government speaking.

            I don’t know a solution to this Internet problem any more than for corporate astroturfing.

  7. So naive.

    There is nothing inherently immoral about any foreign interference because morality has nothing to do with relations between nations, especially between powers. Its the law of the jungle, not morality.

    We have interfered with foreign elections/politics, both covertly and overtly, in the past and will do again.

    1. Bob, no moral content in a judgment of treason?

      The morality in question is not what our nation owes to others, it is what our citizens owe to our nation.

      1. We are not at war with Russia. Hence, no treason.

        Even the Mueller probe found no admissible evidence of Trump campaign conspiring or even coordinating with Russia. Its all just innuendo and assumptions. Retweeting or linking Russian generated content is not criminal even assuming that mere information can be an illegal foreign contribution. If Trump links a Guardian column, is that a political contribution from the Guardian?

        1. Bob, I have not accused Trump of treason. I know the definition. Just pointing out that in cases of treason, there is a moral judgment. Which you seem not to acknowledge.

          The problems for Trump, other than the ones he has been storing up by defying subpoenas, come from stuff like Giuliani’s guys funneling secret Russian money to the Governor of Florida, and to the Trump campaign. If you don’t know what I am talking about, maybe you need to pay attention to mainstream media.

    2. “We have interfered with foreign elections/politics, both covertly and overtly, in the past and will do again.”

      Ah, the old “we do it, so it CAN’T be immoral” theory.

  8. ” … the Trump/Russia conspiracy … ”

    A comment that displays total ignorance of the Meuller report’s conlcusion that no evidence could be found that Trump or his campaign had “colluded” with any Russions.

    1. Meuller report’s conlcusion that no evidence could be found

      No evidence, eh? That’s not what the report said at all.

      1. Nope, no evidence. Sorry, but vague suspicions and paranoid conspiracy theories aren’t “evidence”. He literally could not find any evidence of collusion.

        1. Those people who were convicted based on “no evidence” must be kicking their lawyers.

          1. They weren’t convicted of “collusion”, so the fact that there wasn’t any evidence of collusion was beside the point.

            1. “They weren’t convicted of ‘collusion'”

              Well, except for the ones who were, of course.

  9. I just don’t buy all this “foreign interference” baloney.

    There is this thing called Freedom of speech. People, including those outside the country, are free to attempt to persuade people of whatever they want.

    1. ” People, including those outside the country, are free to attempt to persuade people of whatever they want.”

      But… are they allowed to use whatever method of persuasion they want to? Such as, say, pretending to be Americans?

      1. What a stupid question.

        1. A stupid question that apparently stumped you. Better luck next time, champ. Keep trying, and eventually you’ll get one you can answer.

          1. Why would pretending to be american matter? What level of chicanery do you think makes that matter? Do you often go look at the buyers of facebook ads to determine their citizenship? It is a fucking stupid question.

            1. Ah, so it’s moved up from just stupid to fucking stupid. Sorry I went over your head. Maybe you’ll be able to get the next one.

      2. What’s the difference if they are American, born or naturalized, or anything else?

        1. “What’s the difference if they are American, born or naturalized”

          You’re one of those “The illegals come here and vote” people, aren’t you.

          1. Ideas like socialism are bad because they are inherently bad, not because they come from Venezuela or Russia.

            But – copying technology is how the world moves forward. For example, if the Chinese or Russians invent new AI, I think its our duty to copy it, not avoid “foreign ideas.” On the other hand, there are plenty of horrible ideas coming from natural born Americans (see also: the leftist-fest over in the Dem primary). Che Guevera has nothing on Warren and Sanders.

            I think this whole “foreign interference” narrative is simply a trope pushed by Clintonites and their paranoid and bitter cult leader, Hillary – who is now complaining that the Russians are groming a candidate in the Dem primary, lol. It does not require “foreign interference” to know she was a horrible, bitter candidate.

            1. “Ideas like socialism are bad because they are inherently bad, not because they come from Venezuela or Russia. ”

              Pfeh. Where an idea comes from is just one of the pieces of information you can use (or not use) when analyzing it. Trump thinks Trump is a stable genius. Obviously, he’s entirely objective in his analysis of Trump’s performance…

              I don’t object to foreigners saying “we wish this guy would win your election” or even “we think you should choose this guy in your next election”. I don’t object to my own government telling other people what our opinion of their choices is, either.

      3. > But… are they allowed to use whatever method of persuasion they want to? Such as, say, pretending to be Americans?

        Or actual cyber warfare?

      4. It’s an issue of knowing they are doing it, not the arguments themselves. Knowing who is shorthand for revealing the real reasons.

  10. SKofNJ, I figured that would set someone off.

    Couple of points. First, there is no ignorance of the report’s conclusions. There is a mountain of circumstantial evidence in the report pointing to existence of a conspiracy. Mueller himself was not tasked with assessing whether a conspiracy existed, except insofar as he was tasked with deciding whether any individual was sufficiently implicated in conspiracy to warrant prosecution to the usual standard. That is what Mueller said he could not do. He did not say there was no conspiracy.

    That is as far as your denial can reasonably be taken. It still leaves the conspiracy as a whole an open question, and one bolstered by evidence which many people would say make the existence of a conspiracy more likely than not.

    That, of course, on the basis of only evidence which was not obstructed. But there were also 10 supportable counts of obstruction which have not been fully probed, or charged as criminal. Trying those cases, or getting pleas, would add to the evidence. Plus which, subpoena’s for testimony and documents remain outstanding because the Trump administration is defying Congress.

    Second, that was then. Things have changed. At the least, there is a need to subpoena and examine documents newly-known to exist, which might prove conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt. Those include conversation records of Trump’s talks with Putin, now hidden away in ultra-high-security storage, but apparently disclosed as existing by people in a position to know.

    Also, there are further leads to be followed, from Giuliani associates who were arrested at Dulles Airport. You have in one of them a guy who is now under indictment for secretly funneling Russian money into the campaigns of both the Governor of Florida, and of Trump himself. There are multiple known photographs of that guy with Trump, going back at least to 2014.

    Plenty more to do. Possibly, you don’t know about that other stuff. Try reading the mainstream media.

    1. “There is a mountain of circumstantial evidence in the report pointing to existence of a conspiracy.”

      There’s a mountain of inkblots, and every one of them looks like Trump being guilty to those who hate Trump, and just can’t accept that their fantasies of a Trump/Russia conspiracy are just that: Fantasies, and nothing more.

      1. We should have Stephen google fakenmoon landing or flat earth next to compare the mountains of evidence.

      2. When almost everyone on your team is hanging out with Russians/Ukrainians—and sometimes going to jail for it—that is unlikely to prove a coincidence. What is the total up to by now? Last I saw, someone said it was 19 Trump aides with verified Russian/Ukrainian connections. Plus Trump, of course.

        But all fantasy? How about the Governor of Florida, who just went to the feds in a panic, to give back $50,000 that he got from one of Giuliani’s Russian-connected mobsters—the ones nabbed at the airport while trying to flee the country.

        I’ll tell you when to decide whether it is fact or fantasy. Right after all the subpoenas have been answered, and all the testimony from Trump and his henchmen is on the record. Saying, “We aren’t going to give you any documents, and we won’t appear to testify, because it’s all a fantasy,” is not a likely winner.

        Folks looking back on the events from sometime in the future are likely to conclude that kind of ploy is astoundingly, incomprehensibly stupid.

    2. “He did not say there was no conspiracy. ”

      He said there was no admissible evidence to prove a conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt. Why do you hate the presumption of innocence?

      1. “He said there was no admissible evidence to prove a conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt”

        He didn’t say there was no evidence, because he is not stupid. He said he didn’t have access to enough evidence. On the other hand, you DO have evidence, in the form of Mr. Trump speaking in a videotaped interview, saying that, in future, of course he’d collude if a foreign power offered him help to win an election. And there’s also evidence that the Russian decided to covertly influence the election of 2016, and decided to do so without involving Mr. Trump in their efforts. This does not add up to a conspiracy… but it does not suggest that conspiracy in future is in any way unlikely.

        Mr. Trump can be relied upon 100% to act in the interests of Mr. Trump, to the exclusion of all others. This is just fine when he’s a private businessman, but not when he’s acting with the power of the US government. You don’t have to “hate” Mr. Trump to reach this conclusion.

        1. So fucking stupid. He didnt have access to evidence? After 30 million and 3 years? Just behind the next door? You’re fucking insane.

          1. “He didnt have access to evidence?”

            Correct. He didn’t have it and that’s what he would say. If, say, all the relevant evidence was in Russia, and Putin didn’t want him to have it, he’d report that he didn’t have the evidence (which was demonstrably true. Turn out, Putin doesn’t have to honor a subpeona.

            “After 30 million and 3 years?”

            What’s the budget of the US intelligence efforts to get access to documents Putin doesn’t want us to have?

            “You’re fucking insane.”

            But not even close to your levels of delusional.

    3. Sorry Professor….if the case were that strong, then they should have brought it to a Grand Jury, indicted the POTUS, and went to trial. The Special Counsel did not bring charges, and it was not a strong case.

      There just isn’t the stuff you (and others) thought was there.

      1. “if the case were that strong, then they should have brought it to a Grand Jury, indicted the POTUS, and went to trial.”

        The fact that they started off with the assumption that a sitting President can’t be indicted.

        “The Special Counsel did not bring charges”

        Might want to look up if the Special Counsel was allowed to bring charges against POTUS (hint: no) For guilty people who were NOT POTUS, the special counsel referred several people for charges, some of whom were convicted, and some of whom were Russian nationals in Russia, which turns out to be a fairly good way of avoiding indictment.

        1. James, if POTUS Trump had actually conspired with the Russians to swing an election, and there were clear and unequivocal evidence, the rules would have gone out the window. The American people would demand removal, post-haste. And I would be one of them. That did not happen, because there was no conspiracy or collusion.

          If there were something there that was clear and unequivocal that was illegal, again the rules would have gone out the window. The American people would demand removal, post-haste. And I would be one of them. That did not happen, no charges were filed or indictments levied against POTUS Trump, because there were none.

          Look, if you want impeachment, then call the vote. Impeachment is a political act. My own view is that the people, using the ballot box, are the final check against impeachment. Just know that impeaching a POTUS in the absence of clear and unequivocal evidence of wrongdoing will absolutely tear this country apart.

          I don’t want this, but if it is going to happen, let’s get this over with.

          1. “Look, if you want impeachment, then call the vote. Impeachment is a political act.”

            Turns out I don’t have the power to call a vote for impeachment. Fortunately for me, the D’s in Congress happen to share my opinion, which is that they should remove Trump from office by beating him in the election next year. In the past, We had Wilson post-stroke, and the Republic survived, we had Reagan, with Alzheimer’s, and the Republic survived, and we’ve had Trump… and the Republic will survive.

            Your bullshit bluff has been called. Mueller didn’t indict Trump because Mueller didn’t have, never had, the power to indict Trump. Not because he didn’t want to, or didn’t find evidence of wrongdoing that would have gotten not-sitting-Presidents indicted.

          2. Atlas, this “call the vote,” stuff is getting tiresome. Why would Democrats call a vote to impeach while critical documents remain unexamined, and subpoenaed witnesses have yet to testify? You want to speed the process up? Tell Trump to stop defying the House. You think defiance can go on forever? I doubt it will. Not too long after the House gets the evidence it demands, and makes a bunch of it public, you will get the vote you want. But I doubt you will still want it.

            1. Professor Lathop….Tiresome? Oh well. In my world, we call it: Put up or shut up. Do you honestly think in your heart of hearts that this kafkaesque process currently being conducted by Team D House members is going to turn up anything truly new that FIVE (yes 5) previous investigations have not? C’mon professor, I know we are on different sides WRT this topic, but let’s get real. Team D is casting about for a justification.

              My attitude….No need to wait. Call the vote. But know for certain that in doing so, it will tear the country apart.

              1. “Tiresome? Oh well. In my world, we call it: Put up or shut up.”

                Here in this one, we like to have the investigation first, then the trial, and then decide on the punishment, if any, last.

                Some people want to jump right to removing Trump from the Presidency, just because he’s rather obviously unfit for it. But the standard for removal isn’t “is a fucking poor President”, it’s “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

          3. Atlas, so here it is, a mere 3 days later, and the evidence now looks unequivocal. Are you ready to keep your pledge and back Trump’s removal, or is time once again to move the goal posts?

            My suggestion? Don’t be in such a hurry. Before the investigation goes much farther, a mere month or two at most, there will be a subpoena for the actual record of the phone call, not the doctored one—which will never be honored, even under emergency court order. There will be more evidence linking Giuliani with the Ukrainian oligarch Dymitro Firtash. There will be evidence showing that Giuliani’s employer Lev Parnas was secretly funneling Russian money into Trump’s campaign. Giuliani will be shown to be working not for Trump, but for Russians, and/or for pro-Russian Ukrainians, with Trump’s complicity. Executive privilege for Giuliani will be out the window, as will lawyer-client privilege for Trump, because Trump is not Giuliani’s employer, merely a co-conspirator in a plot run by Giuliani’s employers.

            Of course, as all that begins to unfold in public, there is a likelihood that the case could blow at the seams, with Republicans rushing to boot Trump out of office, desperately trying to get a lid on the revelations. Perhaps these goings-on will become known to history as the Ukrainian Candidate scandal.

            Good luck as a die-hard Trump supporter.

  11. ” Its justification depends on goals pursued, and the methods used.”

    You’re going down a terrifyingly dangerous road here. It’s ALL in the methods used.

    You can pursue the most horrifying goal imaginable, and as long as your means are impeccable, no harm, no foul. You can pursue the good, using bad means, and you’re on the side of evil.

    You’re sliding into the same “end justifies the means” type reasoning that leads so many on the left astray: The belief that the rules don’t count if you’re doing good, and that the rules are no refuge for people doing bad.

    But, good and bad are not categories governments are good at distinguishing. That people are good at distinguishing. We’re prone to confuse our own personal preferences with cosmic values.

    Stick to rules, Ilya. Stick to the means.

    1. “You’re sliding into the same ‘end justifies the means’ type reasoning that leads so many on the left astray:”

      Newsflash… rightwingers are not immune from this, either. That’s how we ended up torturing people to bring a shining democracy to the Middle East.

    2. Dude is saying the opposite, Bob – that the methods matter, as well as the ends.

      1. And “ends matter”, where you allow people do do legal things only if you approve of their ends, is the start of that road.

        No. If the means are legal, the ends are irrelevant. We disagree too much about ends for any other stance to be safe.

        1. “No. If the means are legal, the ends are irrelevant.”

          No. It’s illegal and wrong to drive the getaway car from a bank robbery, whether you steal a car for the getaway or use your own, properly registered, car for the getaway.

    3. I think you’re correct with regard to what should be the legality of a method or means. But to be fair, Ilya’s title references the “morality of electoral interference.” Ends and means are of course both fair game for moral evaluation.

      But the two shouldn’t be confused. The government-media complex pretends to be upset with Trump’s methods when what they’re really outraged about is the ends of putting America First.

      1. “what they’re really outraged about is the ends of putting America First.”

        Trump puts Trump first, Always has, always will, don’t be surprised when it happens again.

        1. That could be, but even if so, Trump articulated policy positions that got him elected, positions contrary to the Republican and Democrat establishments, in large part with respect to immigration and trade. It’s these positions that are the source of the serious and fierce opposition to him. Even after his election, if he had rolled over on these issues in typical presidential fashion, all of his antics would be excused and he would be deemed a workable good enough guy.

          1. Is it Trumps policies, or is it negative party affiliation with respect to the Dems?

            I can tell you which people bring up more around here, and it ain’t his policies.

            1. Obama’s chief qualification for winning his election to the Presidency was not being George W Bush. Trump’s chief qualification was not being Hillary Clinton.

              1. I dunno – Obama had a pretty strong Hope & Change roll going on.

                Not that that’s really much better, but when’s the last time we elected someone based on a policy? Maybe FDR?

                1. FDR’s policy was one of not being Hoover.

                  Change from something that isn’t/hasn’t been working is behind a lot of electoral victories. Most administrations have some wins and and some losses. If the incumbent convinces the electorate that the wins were in the areas that count, and the losses were in areas that don’t much count, then they get re-elected. But if the challenger successfully paints the issues where the incumbent lacks wins, then the electorate is likely to change horses. Hoover wasn’t on a win streak.

                  Trump got elected not because he has accomplished anything, but because he drives the liberals nuts by refusing to take ownership of his mistakes. He’s continued to do so, and hopes to win reelection based solely on that accomplishment. Might even manage to do it, in which case the American voters will get what they deserve.

          2. “Trump articulated policy positions that got him elected”

            This is true. He stated that he was NOT Hillary Clinton, and that got him elected.

            ” It’s these positions that are the source of the serious and fierce opposition to him”
            There’s also the fact that his claims had and have important elements that are not supported by reality. Mexico is not paying for a border wall. Trade wars are not easy to win. So, yeah, his positions are different from both established Democratic and Republican positions, which were reality-based.

  12. This is all true, but there is another dimension you haven’t mentioned: Trudeau’s (or Trump’s) behavior.

    The analogy would be:
    1. If Obama was still in office
    2. If he supported Trudeau’s re-election not publicly but by hacking, deceptions.

    You should add:
    3. If Trudeau suspiciously refused to disclose documents that every other politicians disclose that might show conflicts of interest (tax returns).
    4. Trudeau lied about why he’s not disclosing them (“they’re under audit” is not a valid reason).
    5. Trudeau acts in ways that at best show obeisance to Obama (for example, Trump denying the conclusions of his own intelligence services) and at worst show that he is under threat of blackmail.

  13. So, there’s a lot to break down here, in terms of foreign interference in domestic elections.

    1. “But promoting him for the sake of strengthening progressivism in North America is a far cry from Putin’s awful agenda.”

    So, with this statement, it implies that the reason and political goals for foreign interference are what make the intervention acceptable, or not. This of course, is a dangerous road to walk down. Because everyone feels their own reasons are the “right” reasons and their political opponent’s reasons are the “wrong” reasons.

    1. “This of course, is a dangerous road to walk down. Because everyone feels their own reasons are the “right” reasons and their political opponent’s reasons are the “wrong” reasons.”

      Here’s a helpful guide to try to sort this out.
      If you have to lie about what you’re doing in order for it to work the way you want, you’re doing the wrong thing.

      1. IE, “Obamacare”

        1. Yes, the big lie that “we’d like to cover more Americans with health insurance”.

          1. Wow. You managed to lie about a lie. You’ve gone full idiot.

            1. Wow. Full idiot and still putting stuff right over your head.

            2. You don’t think that was Obama’s goal, Jesse?

            3. Indeed, James has managed to lie about a lie. Let’s review.

              James: “If you have to lie about what you’re doing in order for it to work the way you want, you’re doing the wrong thing”

              Myself: “Obamacare.” This is clearly in reference to the multiple lies told by Democrats (most famously, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”) told by Democrats in order to get it passed. Now, clearly Democrats are lying in order to get it to work the way they wanted. They are “doing the wrong thing”

              Then James responds with a fake quote (another lie). (Ironically, a google search of that quote with Obama after it, only shows the this forum.) Another lie. He’s doing it “the wrong way”).

              Enough though about James…

              1. “Myself: ‘Obamacare.’ This is clearly in reference to the multiple lies told by Democrats (most famously, ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”) told by Democrats in order to get it passed’.

                The ACA was passed by Congress. They kept their health plan. Obama was talking to the general public when he launched the epic misstatement you (now) quote, Since he did NOT need to get it past a vote of the public, he did NOT need to say this “to get it passed”.
                So it’s YOU lying about a lie.

                “Then James responds with a fake quote”

                The fact that you have to lie about me shows that… well… you’re lying again. If you have to lie to win your argument…

                1. Oh, the sad lies, James, the sad lies.

                  Anyone can google that quote of yours and figure out that Obama never said any such thing. I encourage everyone to do such a thing.

                  You could try to link to such a quote…but there ain’t one.

                  So, you’ll deny, and anyone who chooses to Google will realize the brazen lies.

                  1. “Anyone can google that quote of yours and figure out that Obama never said any such thing.”

                    So you’re choosing to continue to lie, and claim I attributed a quote to Obama, even though anyone who can read can clearly and readily see I did no such thing?

                    YOU are the source of the lie you object to. Fucking twit.

          2. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” 🙂

            1. Ironically, that’s a real quote.

              “we’d like to cover more Americans with health insurance” ….isn’t.

              1. Non-ironically, “we’d like to cover more Americans with health insurance” is a real quote.

      2. IE, the Trump “impeachment”

        1. AFAIK, Mr. Trump has not been impeached. Or is that a lie?

          1. Multiple democrats in the house have cited the impeachment matter as a means to hurt trump in 2020, see rep al green as an example. He is using the powers of his office for political means. Should he be kicked out?

            1. “He is using the powers of his office for political means. Should he be kicked out?”

              Genius, he has a political office. Using a political office to achieve political goals is… not at all surprising, to a person of normal intelligence.
              Back in 2006, Democrats sought to use the W administration’s poor handling of the war in Iraq against the Republicans who backed it. Should they have been kicked out of office? How about the Congressional R’s in 2010, who wanted to use the incomplete efforts to pull the country out of recession? (Though I guess you have to admire the chutzpah of “hey, you haven’t fixed the problem we caused!” as a campaign slogan.)

    2. > So, with this statement, it implies that the reason and political goals for foreign interference are what make the intervention acceptable, or not. This of course, is a dangerous road to walk down. Because everyone feels their own reasons are the “right” reasons and their political opponent’s reasons are the “wrong” reasons.

      There’s nothing dangerous about believing in objective morality.

      1. There certainly is, once you take the step of deciding that you get to require other people to follow your idea of it, instead of their own.

        1. If it’s objective, then “my idea of it” is the same as “your idea of it” is the same as anyone else’s idea of it. That’s what “objective” means.

          1. jsnider wasn’t referring to whether something is objectively moral. He was referring to believing in objective morality.

      2. There is, once you use it to justify the means.

  14. I’m surprised that Prof. Somin cares about elections. What happened to his desire for a meritocracy, with him picking those with merit (Obama and Trudeau would apparently qualify)?

    1. To be fair, who doesn’t want to be king of all they survey and decide what happens?

    2. Have you always lacked the ability to read or is this new? Somin has never said that he liked Obama or Trudeau (he says the opposite here, in fact). He’s also never proposed that he pick elected officials for office.

  15. Remember when all the foreign leaders told us in 2008 we needed to elect Obama. Then all the same foreign leaders “warned” us not to elect Trump in 2016. No problems there when these foreign leaders “tinker” in our election as long as it is shilling for the Dem. Remember during 2008 when some liberals even suggested that foreigners SHOULD have some type of influence in our election because the President was the de facto leader of the free world? They really want you to forget that one.

    1. “Remember during 2008 when some liberals even suggested that foreigners SHOULD have some type of influence in our election because the President was the de facto leader of the free world?”

      When the furriners tell you who and what they are, you can weigh how important their input to your decision-making process is (or should be). You might say “yeah, that’s right!” or “No fucking way!” because of who they are, without even really needing to hear their statements.
      Do you object to getting input from outsiders? Knowing, say, that Turkey intends to invade Syria if one guy wins, but would hold back if the other guy wins? I mean, if you don’t care if Turkey invades Syria, then you can file the information in the appropriate receptacle, but if you DO care, wouldn’t you prefer to know rather than having to guess? If there’s a split between the UK and Common Europe, does that mean that Irish terrorism is likely again? Does this affect us here, or will they keep it local? Does who WE pick have any effect on what THEY do (or don’t do)?

      In contrast, when “they” (fill in whichever “they” alarms you most. DON’T tell you who they really are, but instead run ads from the “Americans for Awesome America Committee” or suchlike, is that the same thing as when their government just comes out and says “Ugh. Please don’t re-elect Trump. He’s an uncultured buffoon and we’d just as soon not have to deal with him any longer than necessary.”

      1. That’s a lot of words to say it doesnt matter when your side does it.

        1. That’s not very many words to completely mis-state what I said.

  16. As far as I know, and I’m sure someone will “correct” me, there isn’t any evidence connecting any hacking or other election interference to Putin. There’s a lot of supposition, stated as fact. Was it Russians who broke into the DNC server? Maybe, but I take it a high school kid could have done it. Did anyone “hack” the election, affect the outcome? No.

    1. The Russians ran troll farms where people were paid to log onto Internet sites that allowed user interaction, and pretend to be opinionated Americans and spread disinformation, primarily about either Obama or Clinton and frequently both.

      1. That 3 ion spent was more influential than Hillarys 1 billion spent. That is your literal argument. You’re a useful idiot. You’ve helped caused more havoc in politics than Putin could have dreamed of. It’s why he funded initial resistance sites, BLM, sites, etc. He figured out the idiot liberals were easier to influence.

        1. ” You’re a useful idiot.”

          And you’re the useless sort.

      2. Did you see the broken English, Bernie memes and whatnot that you are referencing? This stuff didn’t change a single vote. It’s laughable.

        1. You clearly lack knowledge of which you speak.

    2. Didn’t the intel community trace the tools used to hack the DNC server back to Russian intelligence?

      Trump is trying to push a conspiracy that Ukraine framed Russia, but there’s no evidence of that.

      1. No, the DNC’s own cyber security vendor claimed to have. The DNC wouldn’t permit the “intel community” to look at their servers, and the FBI rolled over and played dead for them. In a supposedly important national security case, they took “no” for an answer.

        So we’re stuck taking the DNC’s word for it.

      2. Read Muellers report. Not the conclusion. The report
        The IC reissued the report from crowdstrike. No Govt agencies examined the data directly.
        During the same time frame was the media reporting that govt cyber experts identified hacking fingerpints that intentionally left evidence that would point to 3rd parties.

      3. I love that Trump was investigated 2 years but now we are supposed to take Biden’s declaration that there was no funny business in Ukraine at face value. There’s nothing to find, so why are so many people worked up about Ukraine relooking? Joe will simply get a clean bill of health. And the others as well

        1. “we are supposed to take Biden’s declaration that there was no funny business in Ukraine at face value.”

          Well, you can if you like.

  17. AFAIK, only Andrew Yang among all the 2020 candidates has publicly pledged that if elected he would refrain from interference (overt or covert) in foreign elections.

    It’s utmost hypocrisy to rail against Russian interference while reserving the right to do the same yourself.

    Even Voice of America can be accused of spreading misinformation. They’ll deny it, but foreign sources will believe it.

    1. “AFAIK, only Andrew Yang among all the 2020 candidates has publicly pledged that if elected he would refrain from interference (overt or covert) in foreign elections.”

      Which is misleading, since the American government affects other countries’ governments as a routine matter. (We have a whole federal department whose job it is to keep track of the US’s relationships with foreign countries, and several more devoted to figuring out what those foreign governments intend to do, for both short-term and longer-term questions.) We can’t “not interfere” in other countries, because anything we do, including nothing, has effects in other countries.

      1. Good points. Of course the same applies to the Russian government.

        1. Yes, the same is true of the Russian government. But they set out to manipulate the election outcome by deceit. That’s not quite the same thing as just affecting things by existing.

  18. “I am no great fan of Justin Trudeau and his ideology, and would not endorse him myself. But promoting him for the sake of strengthening progressivism in North America is a far cry from Putin’s awful agenda.”

    Is it? Progressivism is just a code word for Socialism these days (if not since it’s inception), which is at least as anti-rights and anti-freedom as Putin’s government, if not more so. They would seem to share the same agenda in principle.

    Now, i’ll happily stipulate that openly advocating something in your own name is a difference in kind that black ops to interfere in an election, and for that reason Obama’s interference here is acceptable (not good). But if Putin had actively endorsed Trump publicly instead of using a covert disinformation campaign, they’d be equivalent. Both would be actively advocating an anti-freedom agenda (morally wrong), but in a tolerant society we don’t silence people just for being wrong.

    Aside: It’s kind of amusing how fast we transitioned from ‘the 80s called, they want their foreign policy back’ to ‘russia is awful’. I wasn’t particularly a Romney fan either, but in the case of Russia, Romney was definitely right.

    1. I hate progressivism and I can still see that Putin’s agenda is far worse. Russians who aren’t ethnic Russians are violently discriminated against. They have invaded two countries and held onto the land recently. Non-Orthodox Christians are being shut down and tortured because they aren’t “traditional.” Gays and lesbians are being purged. People who say they shouldn’t be are murdered. Dissidents are purged, tortured, or murdered. Journalists are murdered. Defectors are murdered. Tourists are imprisoned and then murdered. Dictatorships are propped up only to annoy the West. Clandestine African mercenary groups are fomenting rebellion.

      Progressives, however, can’t even figure out how to pass laws.

      1. Don’t confuse competence with aims. The progressives want similar things, they just are (currently) incompetent at achieving them.

        1. Talk to progressives. They don’t bring up murder that often.

          1. Yeah, right. They just assault people for the ‘crime’ of disagreeing with them.

            It took a while for the Red Guard to get around to murder, too.

            1. “They just assault people for the ‘crime’ of disagreeing with them.”

              And they’re the only ones. Definitely nobody every left a rally of rightwingers in Virginia and then murdered someone for disagreeing with them. And absolutely positively nobody ever left a rally of rightwingers in Oregon and then murdered two people on a public transit train, and nearly murdered another one, for the deadly crime of telling a “free American” to stop harassing teenage girls for having dark skin.

      2. Putin’s agenda isn’t worse, he just faces less effective opposition. Trudeau would likely be as bad if he had the same lack of constraints Putin has.

        1. You are a crazy person. Putin is not a run-of-the-mill progressive.

          Good lord.

    2. Way to reduce the issue to just partisanship. Albeit the lame arch-libertarian ‘everyone else is bad’ level.

      ‘The other side is bad, so anything that helps them is bad’ is damn near solipsistic.

  19. The Mueller report offers zero evidence that Russia govt had any involvement with the DNC hacked e mails. The Mueller Report never actually makes a conclusion that the Russia govt was involved. Only grassy knoll conspiracy whispers of such a claim.
    But then like all of the Mueller Report. Mueller could not produce evidence that Russia did not do it.

    1. “Maybe it was China. Maybe it was some fat kid in a basement.”

    2. I thought that, literally, every USA agency charged with analyzing this concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hacking and that the hack was linked to the Russian govt. It’s what made Trump’s repeated refusal to accept the analysis of his own intelligence that made us question his, well, intelligence.

      1. I thought that, literally, every USA agency charged with analyzing this concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hacking and that the hack was linked to the Russian govt.
        That was the conclusion, authored by DNI Brennen. The facts are, the CIA made the claim, two other IC agencies claimed their limited examination, could find nothing to refute the CIA’s conclusion. The other 14 agencies never examined anything, and Brennen took the liberty of putting words in their mouth. Those 14 agencies never examined anything.
        This is just one small example of people in the govt pushing a personal agenda, and the msm happy to validate the sham.

        1. John Brennan appears to have played the biggest role in authoring the Russia collusion hoax.

          1. Besides DJT, you mean.

    3. In reaching this conclusion, the Mueller report relied on forensics provided by Crowdstrike, a private contractor for the DNC just like Christopher Steele, rather than doing their own forensics. (The DNC refused to allow the FBI to do such forensics, in the sort of behavior that is mundane, everyday, and unquestioned in the media for Democrats, but would result in calls of impeachment for Trump.)

      The Crowdstrike forensics in turn rely on the assumption that the hackers left bread crumbs that investigators could use to trace these actions back to the perpetrators, as opposed to leaving behind any sort of false flag bread crumbs.

      The Mueller report itself slyly admits uncertainty by using the word “appear” to describe the actual crime in question: “Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016.” (emphasis added)

      1. ” (The DNC refused to allow the FBI to do such forensics, in the sort of behavior that is mundane, everyday, and unquestioned in the media for Democrats, but would result in calls of impeachment for Trump.)”

        Fine, have it your way.
        I call for the impeachment of the DNC. Remove them from the Presidency forthwith!

      2. ML, this is an unsupported conspiracy theory. There is no evidence to dispute the conclusions of the IC.

        As I recall, Seth Rich figures into this particular conspiracy theory as well.

        1. Sarcastro, Please do better. This is not a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy is something that requires a group or at least two parties who are conspiring together to do something nefarious. If I’m offering a conspiracy theory, then who are the parties that I’m saying conspired? Nobody, because I’m not doing that.

          So to be very clear, I am not credulous of any conspiracy theory whatsoever, including the outlandish Seth Rich conspiracy theory. What I am pointing out is that the Mueller conclusion regarding Russian hacking appears to be flimsy and thinly supported. For my part, this isn’t a way to imply a conspiracy, and it’s not even really a knock on Mueller, although it was perhaps politically expedient for him to project more confidence than was warranted.

          1. ” A conspiracy is something that requires a group or at least two parties who are conspiring together to do something nefarious.”

            You mean like the FBI, the DNC, Crowdstrike, and Mueller? That seems to be two or more parties, which you are accusing of working together to do something nefarious. I mean, it would unless you were in complete denial.

            1. No, I’m not doing that. Read better. I’m saying the evidence Mueller offered is shoddy. He doesn’t make his case and he knows that he never will need to make his case in any court.

              1. ” I mean, it would unless you were in complete denial.”

  20. The supposed Russian interference is trivia compared to the interference, collusion, and conspiracy that goes on every day within the US media opposing the President.

    Let us (try to) remember the primary basis for the Trump/Russian collusion investigation was a dossier prepared by a foreign national and paid for by the opposition party. Marketed among the press and high up in federal law enforcement.

    Trump declared at the onset there was no collusion and there wasn’t. Two years of scandalous books, cable TV and morning news interviews of talking heads and ex-somebodies, media bombshells and breathless media coverage, the Trump train coming off the rails. other assorted hysterias.

    1. “Let us (try to) remember the primary basis for the Trump/Russian collusion investigation was a dossier prepared by a foreign national and paid for by the opposition party”

      This is both not true and not currently position issued from Trump himself. The basis for investigating Russian ties to Trump is the fact that before the election, wiretaps of the Russians were detecting attempts to contact Trump, which Trump now characterizes as “spying on his. campaign”.

      1. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

        1. I can tell by the vast list of alleged inaccuracies you offered.

  21. 2018 Democrats: Ukraine must investigate the 2016 election

    2019 Democrats: It’s impeachable treason to ask Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election

    1. …2019 Dems: It’s impeachable to ask Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election, when the president is the one who is trying to blackmail or extort you into doing a sham investigation into a crazy and already-debunked theory that will specifically target the opposition candidate he is most afraid of.

      I hate the “FIFY” meme. It’s tired and cliche by now.
      But: fixed it for you.

      1. No, the Trump-Russia hoax was a sham, a deranged conspiracy theory used to target Trump, spy on his campaign and attack his presidency because he was upsetting the apple cart.

        Now, looking at the origins of this historic ruse is entirely legitimate. So you have it exactly backwards.

        1. Your partisan lens MAY possibly be impeding your visual acuity.

          1. Please tell me more about the totally legit Trump-Russia conspiracy. Do you think they got to Robert Mueller, the Russians?? How did they do it?!

            1. Still needs adjustment.

  22. The thing I’ve found so baffling about the Russian narrative is that everyone was just SHOCKED to think that Russia might be attempting to interfere in our elections. Of COURSE they were! Foreign nations, friendly and unfriendly, have been trying to interfere in our country since we became one, and we do the same thing in other countries. I expect that to happen, and I expect us to take security procedures to try to deter it. But the idea that this is somehow a unique occurrence is just mind-boggling.

    1. I don’t think anyone thought the Russians trying to influence the 2016 election was a one-time event.

      The only thing that was different was one candidate’s willingness to work with them, if only they’d return some phone calls…

  23. “For understandable reasons, liberal Democrats have been especially incensed at foreign interference, given that it was used to help bolster their political adversary Donald Trump.”

    There was far more foreign interference used to help bolster Hillary Clinton. But yes it’s understandable that liberal Democrats are incensed and hateful, because they always are, but especially when they lose.

  24. “There was far more foreign interference used to help bolster Hillary Clinton.”

    Sometime around the time you were around ten years old, your mother should have explained to you that “but THEY do it, too!” is not an acceptable excuse for wrongdoing.

    1. I didn’t say otherwise. I know you have great difficulty understanding very simple things. My point was that “liberal Democrats”, obviously are not “incensed at foreign interference,” as such. They’re utterly blind to virtually all of it, if they’re not actively defending it. Imagine if fish decided to be incensed at water. This group is a braindead, 70 IQ mouthbreather, drool dangling from their chin, grunting in approval of whatever their team is telling them on the TV. Nothing more complicated than that.

      1. “This group is a braindead, 70 IQ mouthbreather, drool dangling from their chin, grunting in approval of whatever their team is telling them on the TV.”

        They’re so VERY different from the braindead, 70 IQ mouthbreather, drool dangling from their chins, grunting in approval of whatever their team is telling them on AM radio team.

        1. Didn’t your Mom tell you “them too!” isn’t an acceptable excuse?

          Anyway, I take it you concede the point. Liberal Democrats are not “incensed at foreign interference” as Ilya Somin wrote; or, they are extremely, peculiarly selective with their anger.

          1. The group “Liberal Democrats” doesn’t agree about much, so any blanket statement applied to them is inherently suspect.. Some of them are incensed at foreign interference, and some of them, like yourself, would be just fine with it as long as it helped their side, and would make excuses and outright denials about it.

            I am constantly amused by the partisans, of both flavors, who are absolutely blind to the fact that the complaints they make about “the other guys” can readily be applied to their own preferred brand. It often manifests as short-memory syndrome, where they can’t remember how things were just a few years ago, when different brands of politicians controlled political institutions.

            1. I agree, the complaints about the other guys can be readily applied to their own preferred brand. That’s my whole point. I’m glad to see that you agree.

              “Some of them are incensed at foreign interference”

              On this, I don’t agree. I have yet to see a single person who is genuinely “incensed at foreign interference” in a consistent fashion, rather than in a selective partisan fashion. I’m all ears if you can show me one.

              1. ” I have yet to see a single person who is genuinely ‘incensed at foreign interference’ in a consistent fashion”

                Do the words “no true Scotsman” mean anything to you?

  25. Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire
    Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.

    By KENNETH P. VOGEL and DAVID STERN 01/11/2017
    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446

    Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

  26. Brennan and Clapper have lawyered up. The impeachment push has looked like a preemptive strike against impending accountability.

    AG Barr expands mysterious review into origin of Russia investigation
    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/ag-barr-expands-controversial-review-origin-russia-investigation-n1068971

    The prosecutor conducting the review, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, has expressed his intent to interview a number of current and former intelligence officials involved in examining Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper, Brennan told NBC News.

    With Barr’s approval, Durham has expanded his staff and the timeframe under scrutiny, according to a law enforcement official directly familiar with the matter. And he is now looking into conduct past Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, a Trump administration official said.

    1. Keep F-ing that chicken.

      If Barr indicts a bunch of these former intel guys, I don’t think that’ll look like accountability to anyone but those as deep as you are.

      1. So to be clear, you don’t think there should be accountability for soliciting foreign interference in elections by getting foreign government officials to help dig up damaging information or dirt on political opponents. Is that right?

        1. That’s not what happened in the 2016 election, so to be clear I think you continue to drink deep of wispy speculations to the point that you’ve become the biggest conspiracy theorist in this blog’s comentariat.

          1. Uh, well you need inform yourself at a minimal level. From the November 2017 Politico article I linked above:

            “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”

            Some or all of these same statements apply to the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, and more countries, and apparently Russia as well although I don’t know if the Russian sources were “government officials” exactly.

            This is all just according to the mainstream, liberal media outlets.

            Keep in mind I’m not saying that anyone did anything wrong with respect to this “foreign interference”, if you want to call it that, just that there is no dispute that it happened. As I understand, it’s quite routine for friendly nations to cooperate with each other with respect to such intelligence and investigations. And I don’t know who was involved. I haven’t read up on this topic that much, only enough to stay minimally informed in my estimation. And admittedly I am conflating a bit here because Brennan and Clapper are referenced in the NBC report above, but I don’t know that they were specifically involved with this “foreign interference” I’m describing. Apparently they are being investigated, but I don’t know what for.

            So I don’t think I’ve posited any conspiracy theory here. I’m just pointing out apparently uncontested facts that some folks like seem to be trying very hard to avoid or shove down the memory hole. With that said, I welcome your thoughts or any additional information you can point me to.

            1. That set of events is…disputed to say it nicely. No one else seems to have bought that. A single link in Politico or the Hill asserting stuff doesn’t make it true.

              I continue to find it hard to believe that you look at multiple sources to vette the stories you buy into.

              You can’t claim that what Trump was doing was just some joint investigation work, and also that the Dems were soliciting foreign interference.

              And it’s not just this – you’ve been posting crazier and crazier narratives lately. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but at this rate you’ll be accusing the Dem nominee of being an Illuminati clone.

              1. “And it’s not just this – you’ve been posting crazier and crazier narratives lately.”
                And you keep slinging that charge around more and more lately. Getting nervous?

              2. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but you simply refuse to face basic facts, and instead you keep making up crazier and crazier blatant strawmen to try and attribute to me. It’s really nuts. Are you ok?

                Here is a link to our commenter NTOJ describing and linking to sources about how intelligence agencies of the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Estonia, Poland, and Australia were all cooperating with and involved in the origin of the Trump-Russia investigation.

                https://reason.com/2019/09/27/did-the-president-commit-witness-tampering/#comment-7949397

                What say you?

      2. Well it won’t look like accountability to you no matter what the evidence shows but plenty of people will see it for what it is, especially when the song birds start to sing. Also it’s starting to look like the timing of the impeachment fever was to be able to claim that the indictments are just motivated by revenge. It won’t work but it’s an understandable tactic for your side.

        1. ” Also it’s starting to look like the timing of the impeachment fever”

          They did something starting in December of 2016 because they were aware of something that was going to happen in either late 2019 or early 2020? That’s some clever planning. You’d think if they could plan that well, they’d have been able to win the election in the first place.

          1. The House leadership has been trying to tamp down the impeachment fires until recently. Maybe they still are. So I’m talking about recent developments, but you knew that didn’t you?

            1. You’re talking about “recent developments” that started about 5 minutes after the election results were announced, and continued ever since.

              1. When did they start the impeachment inquiries with the committees? I agree that the coup efforts started about 5 minutes after the election.

                1. What does the military have to do with this?

  27. It would insult people’s intelligence to say that the government of the United States has no preferences in the outcomes of foreign elections, and maybe someone who reads a newspaper — here or in the foreign country — now and then can figure out what they are. But I am reminded of the unpopular governor who approached a political ally facing a tough battle to keep his state legislative seat: “I’ll come into your district and campaign for you, or against you, whichever you think helps.”

  28. Democrats being hypocritical? The devil you say!!!!

    1. Meh. The D’s want to regulate your business dealings, but leave your bedroom dealings to you. The R’s want to deregulate your business dealings, but want to stick their collective noses into your bedroom dealings. And both of them want to take your money away from you, and give it to somebody else. Neither bunch of corrupt crooks is exempt from hypocrisy, if they think they can benefit from it.

  29. I thought Obama was staying in Washington, D.C.? Yeah, he would have, had Hillary won. Now, he’s getting in bed with Justin Trudeau and what is the most important thing he’s pushing? Of course. The Man-made Climate Change Scam. Democrats act like it was nothing that Obama almost doubled the deficit after calling Bush Unpatriotic for pushing $4 trillion in debt. What a p.o.s. Obama is. He fooled so many people. What did his fellow Democrat and architect of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber say how they got it passed? The stupidity of the American voter and the Democrat base cheered. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/223578-obamacare-architect-lack-of-transparency-helped-law-pass