Fair and Square
Ohio Senator Rob Portman appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this morning. Portman, a “moderate Republican” has been a disappointment. I don’t expect a “moderate Republican” to agree with me on many issues. But what I keep waiting for is Portman to act like the decent man he seems to be. Unfortunately, each time Portman has had the chance to show that decency; on the health care vote, on the current tax legislation, and most importantly, on the conduct of the President of the United States; Portman has folded to the pressure of the Trump gang.
Today was no exception. Portman, in trying to dodge the obvious questions about the Russia Investigation and Trump, said the following: “Trump won the election, fair and square.” He stated this as an accepted fact.
Clearly the ultimate issue of the Russia Investigation is that exact question: did Trump win the Presidency “fair and square?” The absolute threat that the Mueller and Senate intelligence committee’s investigations represent is to the legitimacy of the Trump Administration.
In what ways could Trump’s actions have made the election less than “fair and square?” Keeping in mind that the election was not determined by the more than two million more votes that Hillary Clinton earned, but came down to 77,744 Trump votes spread over three states. Wisconsin (22,748) Michigan (10,704) and Pennsylvania (44,292) were narrowly won by Trump, giving him the electoral college margin of victory.
We know that Russian intelligence was targeting social media in these states. We know that they were using “micro-targeting” of Facebook, Twitter, and other media sites to zoom in on the marginal areas within those states, targeting that showed they had an intimate knowledge of American politics. Political experts here in the United States are agreed that it is unlikely the Russians were able to produce those results without American advice. If the Trump campaign is linked to that “advice,” that’s not “fair and square.”
While state election authorities continue to deny it, there are ongoing questions about the security and validity of the actual voting processes, particularly in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan. “Unhack the Vote,” a private organization investigating the integrity of the electoral process has found evidence which raises questions about whether Russian incursions went beyond “tests” to see if the data could be breeched. This, combined with the across the board discrepancies between exit polling and voting outcomes increases the concern that the vote count itself might be flawed or manipulated. If Russian Intelligence hacked and changed votes, that’s not “fair and square.”
There are now questions raised regarding Cambridge Analytica, a data company financed and owned by the Mercer Family. The Mercer’s are also the money behind Bretibart, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and ultimately the support of the Trump campaign. Computer code inadvertently posted by a Cambridge employee seems to show a program to hack and manipulate voter registration data. There are also connections between Cambridge and Wikileaks (Cambridge offered to organize the hacked Clinton emails into a searchable database for Wikileaks.) If Cambridge Analytics, representing the Trump campaign, worked with Wikileaks and/or Russian Intelligence, that’s not “fair and square.”
We have accepted the phrase: “all fair in love and war – and politics!” We anticipate that there might be “dirty campaigning,” that candidates will exaggerate and even lie about both their opponents and themselves, and that in this new day of technology; every campaign will try to take advantage of the latest advancements.
What we haven’t, and shouldn’t accept, is that the actual vote counting mechanism might be altered, and that a third party, in this case Russian Intelligence, may play a huge part in the outcome of our elections. And while today this is a Democrat versus Republican issue, Republicans should look a little farther down the road. If Russian Intelligence’s goal is to disrupt the political process, not necessarily support one party or the other, than the 2018 Congressional elections are just at much at risk, and the Republicans have just as much to lose.
So no, Senator Portman, it’s not an “accepted fact.” Not only is the legitimacy of the current President in question, but also the future of American elections. In fact, as a United States Senator, it is incumbent upon you to assure a thorough investigation so that the American electoral process IS “Fair and Square.”