Last Friday, we all got further confirmation of what we already knew, courtesy of a 29-page indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller against 12 Russian nationals charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
And yet on Monday, presented with overwhelming evidence that a foreign actor struck against the very heart of our democracy in a blatant act of war, President Donald Trump chose to discredit the investigation while sharing a stage with the foreign dictator who assueredly orchestrated the attack.
“I hold both countries responsible,” Trump said when asked by a Reuters journalist about Russia’s election meddling. “I think the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish”
“I think we’re all to blame… President Putin said it’s not Russia.”
But the Mueller indictment leaves no room for interpretation. We now have specific details on how the “Russian Federation operated a military intelligence agency” that “engaged in cyber operations that involved the staged releases of documents stolen through computer intrusions” in “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
The indictment also explains in detail how the “conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton… the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC.) The Conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents from the DCCC and DNC.”
Yet shortly before meeting with Putin, Trump persisted in his claim that the investigation of Russian election interference is nothing more than a “Rigged With Hunt.”
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, appointed to this position by Trump, raised alarm bells about our nation’s vulnerability to additional cyber-attacks, drawing comparisons to the “warning signs” we faced ahead of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Coats said, “It was in the months prior to September 2001 when, according to then-CIA Director George Tenet, the system [was] blinking red. ...The warning lights are blinking red again.”
He also described Russia as the “most aggressive foreign actor, no question. And they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Still, standing next to Vladimir Putin, Trump said that it was actually the Mueller investigation that was a “disaster for our country.”
Imagine this happening in 2012 and President Barack Obama labeling an investigation of election hacking a “witch-hunt” and then having a joint-press conference with the leader of the very foreign power who orchestrated the attack. The words “traitor,” “treason” and “impeach” would become a daily chorus from Republicans and Fox News.
How much longer are congressional Republicans going to risk allowing Putin to determine the outcomes of our elections? Think about that the next time you hear the GOP talk about democracy, liberty, freedom, the Constitution, the national anthem, the American flag, veterans and our troops.
Kurt Bardella is a HuffPost columnist. He is a former spokesman and senior adviser for former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter: @kurtbardella