Going into the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump announced that the election was rigged by the Clinton campaign. That is, it was rigged unless he won.
As it turned out, what he was accusing the Clinton campaign of doing was really a fundamental part of his own political strategy. Welcome to a world where the evil-doer accuses his opponent of his own guilt, that of trying to rig the election for his benefit.
He had a lot of help. What started out as a Wikileaks dump of the Clinton, Clinton campaign chair and the Democratic National Committee hacked emails ended up as a much wider Russian operation designed to help Trump get elected.
Up to the last week, Donald Trump maintained that the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in our election was a hoax and a witch hunt. Not even the arrests of Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, all members of his campaign, changed the President’s utterances about the falseness of the FBI investigation.
Trump has been consistent on not wanting the matter investigated while, at the same time, being very nice to Putin and the Russians. That is why when the then FBI Director James Comey kind of refused to back off Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor and in the pocket of the Russians, he was terminated.
The President was heard to be saying to the Russians and others at the time that he had Comey fired to make the Russian thing go away. But it has not.
Special Council Mueller has just indicted 13 Russians including Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, an Oligarch that is among the closest to Vladimir Putin, on three counts (conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with the 2016 election, wire and bank fraud carried out as part of the election meddling activities and identity theft). Because of this the President has been forced to change his tune and now only claim that the indictments indicate no collusion with Russian spies.
This is less important however, than the possibility that Trump won the election by fraud. The indictments state that by 2016, the Russian meddling organizations had “hundreds of thousands online followers.”
Just one of the organizations, “Tennessee GOP,” had a Twitter following in excess of 100,000 people. The spy organizations engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information on Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump using news outlets, social media, advertising buys and organizing pro-Trump rallies.
The President argues that whatever their activities, the Russians did not change the election outcome. That can sound reasonable since there were 136 million ballots cast in the national election.
However, when we look closer at the results, Donald Trump won the electoral votes of three key states that were part of the Russian strategy, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, with a majority of just 77,744 votes. It is very possible that the hundreds of thousands followers on the Russian organization rolls may have cast more than that number of votes in those states.
By trying to rig the election in Trump’s favor, the Russians may have created an illegitimate president. Also, the indictments indicate that the noose is getting tighter around the President, his family and staff.
One of the reactions to the indictments by some politicians was to blame Obama for not doing something about this earlier. If the investigation had been completed before January 20, 2018, I wonder what they would have said about an indicted president-elect.