13 December 16
he Russian election interference issue is heating up quickly. A lot of very powerful Congressional leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, are taking quite seriously the CIA’s findings that Russia deliberately influenced the recently concluded U.S. presidential election.
Leaving aside for the moment serious concerns about the CIA’s ability to be a fair broker of public information, in addition to the U.S. government’s own record on effecting regime change, often through unilateral military action, Russian involvement in the outcome of the November 8th election is absolutely being treated as an urgent matter at the highest echelons of American government, on both sides of the political divide.
Based on the backgrounds of the senators involved, the participation of NSA director James Clapper, and the statements being made, it is clear this is a highly focused effort to move Russian involvement in the elections to center stage – prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration and perhaps before the Electoral College convenes on December 19th.
A bipartisan group of 10 Electoral College electors have authored an open letter to James Clapper requesting a briefing on Russian involvement. The letter is extraordinary in its detail, attention to fact, and readily apparent alarm over the potential that a foreign actor played a hand in determining the presidential election.
The letter contains a request for a briefing on potential foreign involvement in the election. The letter reads in part:
“The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.
“Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.”
Having published the letter publicly prior to the vote that will determine the presidency puts the result of the Electoral College vote in play; it can no longer be viewed as a foregone conclusion. In less than 24 hours from the time the letter was published the number of signers has nearly tripled from 11 to 29.
Many in Washington are very uneasy with Donald Trump’s irreverent and unorthodox style. Nothing Trump has done in assembling his cabinet has eased those concerns. To the contrary, Trump’s picks are among the most deeply conflicted ever considered for positions within a presidential administration. That, coupled with unprecedented opposition to Mr. Trump by leaders of his own party, has set the stage for a confrontation that now appears to be taking shape.
The situation is fluid and developing very quickly. However, the trajectory of events could easily put Mr. Trump’s ascension to the presidency in question.
All of this takes the country into uncharted waters. It would appear that is where we now are.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.