Budowsky: Did Putin elect Trump?

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As The Hill, CNN and other news organizations reported last week, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are calling on President Obama to declassify information about covert Russian attempts to influence the American elections that the Obama administration continues to keep secret, in my opinion unconscionably.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Warner (Va.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Jack Reed (R.I.), and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

{mosads}Similarly, this week a group of House Democrats, led by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), wrote to President Obama calling on the administration to provide a full classified briefing to Congress detailing the extent of Russian interference in the American elections.

Signees of this letter include House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers  Jr. (Mich.), Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (N.Y.), Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (Md.), Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (Wash.) and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (Calif.).

It is a sad day for America when leading Democratic members of the Senate and House have no recourse except calling on a Democratic president to disclose information about illegal actions, by a hostile foreign power, to corrupt American democracy and influence the election of our commander in chief.

Words cannot fully express my disagreement with President Obama and his White House staff about the way they have failed to effectively combat Russian espionage against American democracy, from the moment it began until today.  Every American should be outraged and angry that ANY foreign power could have ANY influence on the election of our leaders.

Russian espionage, covert action, cyberwar, infowar and the spreading of fake news are not limited to America. These Kremlin attacks against democracy, which could only have been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, continue to be aggressively pursued against American allies throughout Europe.

Until leaders of Western democracies take a firm stand with a Churchillian resolve that they are not demonstrating today, the Kremlin will escalate support for far right, pro-Putin parties that are achieving gains across Europe that threaten allied unity, democracy and NATO.

Did Putin and Kremlin-managed operatives elect Donald Trump as America’s commander in chief by successful espionage that the Obama administration failed to effectively combat? I believe the answer is yes.

While there are various reasons Trump won, whether or not it is ultimately proven that Russia hacked voting on election day, our intelligence and counter-intelligence officials have no doubt that Russia was behind aggressive and sustained cyberattacks against the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Russian hacking, leaking and dissemination of negative information and fake news attacking only Democrats and Clinton, not Republicans or Trump, created a daily deluge of negative news that saturated all media and plagued Clinton for many months.

Had this Kremlin assault against American democracy not occurred, or had it been successfully counteracted by Obama and stopped long ago, the extreme damage it did to Clinton would never have happened. She almost certainly would have won an electoral vote majority in addition to her popular vote lead of some 2.5 million votes.

It is astonishing and unacceptable that while leading House and Senate Democrats plead with the president to tell Congress and the American people still-secret truths about Kremlin attacks against our democracy, his administration still has not publicly acknowledged the obvious — that covert Russian attacks only against a Democratic nominee and Democratic organizations were intended to elect the Republican nominee.

I would urge Democrats to support president-elect Trump’s nomination of retired Marine Corps general James Mattis, a staunch defender of democracy, supporter of NATO and opponent of torture, to be secretary of Defense.

Patriotic Americans, no matter which candidate they favored for president, should demand that President Obama disclose the full truth about Russian attacks against American democracy.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.

Tags Adam Schiff Adam Smith Angus King Barbara Mikulski Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jack Reed Mark Warner Martin Heinrich Mazie Hirono Ron Wyden
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