Maybe there was one thing over and over that Donald Trump wasn't lying about when he campaigned for president.
He told us time and again that our election system "is rigged." And now it turns out he was right. It was rigged for his benefit.
The CIA, according to The Washington Post, has determined that hackers working for the Russian government worked to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump.
The big question now is not whether that rigging was happening, but how and why did it happen and how much did Trump and/or his operatives know about it.
Today, Trump is completely dismissing the CIA's finding — along with the findings of 16 other U.S. government agencies that have said hacks on Democratic systems and state voting systems were the work of the Russian government. Russia in June denied it. But our president-elect is taking the word of Vladimir Putin over the word of 17 U.S. security agencies and hundreds of career U.S. servicemen and bureaucrats.
Here's a more vexing question: What do we do about it now? Trump is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20. Unless the Electoral College, which meets on Dec. 19 can be persuaded that Trump is an unfit "demagogue" and/or to prevent "the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils." Those are all words of our constitutional framer Alexander Hamilton, by the way.
In light of some of the newest findings, even Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is breaking with Trump and calling for a congressional investigation. After all, here are the words spoken last Tuesday by the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, about Russia's hacking collusion with WikiLeaks to effect interference in the 2016 presidential election:
"This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect," Rogers said. "This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily."
McConnell — the Republican who shaped the "no" to everything Democratic President-elect Barack Obama said, did and wanted — has a keen sense of political smell, and with Hillary Clinton now leading by nearly 3 million popular votes, he knows the scent of outrage. Especially when Trump continues to disdain and turn down security briefings, continues to use his own cellphone, Trump Tower and reality TV mockery of the presidency and democracy.
Trump today is, after all, the same man who looked straight into the camera and called for Russia hackers to "find" Clinton emails.
What's more, Trump's campaign appointments and his cabinet nominations smack of a foreign-power-like set of hand grenades to implode America from the inside. Here's a sample:
Exxon mogul Rex Tillerson, Trump's favorite for secretary of state, some years ago brokered a multibillion-dollar oil deal with Moscow and has been photographed toasting with Putin.
Trump's pick for National Security Adviser is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been a paid speaker in Moscow and was photographed dining with Putin.
And we can't forget Paul Manafort, one of Trump's top campaign advisers. Manafort, 67, had been a Russia/Ukraine consultant to help elect Ukraine's former president and Kremlin puppet Viktor Yanukovich. When Yanukovich was ousted in 2014 after protests flared in Kiev over his failure to sign a trade deal with EU, he fled to Russia. Within a week, pro-Russian gunmen seized government buildings in the capital of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. A month later, Putin signed a law annexing the oil-rich Crimea into Russia.
But the Ukraine's newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau, examining secret records containing Manafort's name in a probe to untangle a corrupt network, turned up handwritten ledgers showing $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Manafort from Yanukovich's pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012. Those investigators said that corrupt network used the ledgers and money to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections. Note the words "influence elections."
In all this, there is — in addition to the now-bipartisan call for hearings — another bright spot: One week before the Electoral College meets to ratify Trump's election victory, 10 electors — including a Texas Republican who has turned on Mr. Trump, and Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Representative Nancy Pelosi — have demanded their own intelligence briefing on Russian efforts to elect him. Here's their request:
"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 he and his staff and advisers did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward."
This, folks, is democracy at work.
Power to the people — and our Constitution.