Let’s get the facts right on foreign involvement in our elections

Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012-2014, writes: President-elect Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and will be the next president of the United States. As I have written before in these pages, the rules of the game for choosing our presidents need to be changed, but that discussion concerns future elections, not this past one. A win is a win.

That most people acknowledge Trump’s victory should now free us to have a serious discussion about the role of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election. During the campaign, mentions of foreign meddling quickly became partisan and polarized, blocking any real examination of the facts, let alone a discussion of prescriptions. Even Obama administration officials seemed to tiptoe around these issues, not wanting to appear to use their privileged access to classified information to help the Democratic Party’s candidate, Hillary Clinton. But now the election is over. Before the next one, we need to know the facts — investigate what did and did not occur — so that we can develop procedures, policies and laws to strengthen the integrity of our electoral process before 2020. This is not a partisan plea; it is a national security issue.

We know some facts, and they are disturbing. For instance, we know that Russian actors stole data from people working at the Democratic National Committee. We know that another foreign actor, WikiLeaks, published data stolen from the DNC to adversely affect Clinton. We also know that WikiLeaks and others published data stolen from John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, in order to try to damage further the Democratic candidate. We also know that WikiLeaks did not publish similar kinds of data from the Trump campaign or the Republican Party. [Continue reading…]

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