Republican leaders, he kindly allows, are not actually traitors. But they are a hair's breadth from traitors. Those are his exact words.
A foreign government may have determined the outcome of a presidential election. And not Canada or Costa Rica, but Russia: the United States’ chief historic adversary and an oligarchy ruled by a tyrant who has systematically taken away rights.... On top of all the above, leaders of one of our two political parties—I’ll let you hazard a guess as to which one—argued against letting the American public know about all this before the election, reportedly saying it would be too partisan. That’s not hardball politics. That’s a hair’s breath away from treason.Not one person in the Republican leadership had any authority to block the declassification of that CIA report. Also, not one person in the Republican leadership had any authority to require it to be declassified. Their "arguing" was purely advisory. The head of the CIA could have done it. However, given the politically explosive nature of the revelations, he likely deferred to his boss, the President of the United States, whose original classification authority is broad enough to have ordered the review partially or wholly declassified before the election.
For some reason, a man well known for unilateral actions taken without any Congressional approval elected not to do it. Barack Obama chose not to go public with this without Republicans providing him with political cover.
McConnell, according to the Post story, showed no concern about the truth of the allegations. And bear this nugget in mind: This was not Barack Obama trying to persuade him to join in this bipartisan effort. This was Lisa Monaco, the president’s counterterrorism adviser; and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security secretary; and FBI Director James Comey. McConnell told Comey, in essence, to go take a jump in the lake. McConnell was interested only in party, not at all in country. That’s not treason, but it sure isn’t patriotism.So Obama decided he didn't want to do this on his own. Again, though, that was completely his decision alone. Barack Obama didn't need to persuade anyone to join in any bipartisan effort. He had the full power to do what he decided to do independently, and no Republican could have stopped him.
All the Republican leadership is plausibly guilty of is refusing to give the President political cover to destroy their candidate in the last days of an election. Why would they refuse this tremendous opportunity to show their patriotism? Perhaps because the FBI isn't on the same page as the CIA.
And yet, there is skepticism within the American government, particularly at the F.B.I., that this evidence adds up to proof that the Russians had the specific objective of getting Mr. Trump elected.Having said that, I think the CIA is perfectly correct here. Of course Russia was involved in influence operations to try to sway the outcome of the election, and there's every reason to think that they wanted Trump to win. As I wrote yesterday, this preference makes sense just given Clinton's repeated devotion to a No-Fly Zone in Syria that would have put American warplanes flying against Russian warplanes, creating an extreme risk of war between these nuclear powers. The fact that Trump thinks of Russia as a great place to do business is icing on the cake. They didn't need any additional reason to prefer him: the Syria policy difference is fully sufficient to explain the Russian support. They have invested heavily in a major strategic push there, which at best would have been badly endangered by Clinton's policy; at worst, they'd have found themselves with a nuclear exchange over downed warplanes.
A senior American law enforcement official said the F.B.I. believed that the Russians probably had a combination of goals, including damaging Mrs. Clinton and undermining American democratic institutions. Whether one of those goals was to install Mr. Trump remains unclear to the F.B.I., he said.
The official played down any disagreement between the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and suggested that the C.I.A.’s conclusions were probably more nuanced than they were being framed in the news media.
The agencies’ differences in judgment may also reflect different methods of investigating the Russian interference. The F.B.I., which has both a law enforcement and an intelligence role, is held to higher standards of proof in examining people involved in the hacking because it has an eye toward eventual criminal prosecutions. The C.I.A. has a broader mandate to develop intelligence assessments.
So, to recap:
1) Republican leaders are not only not traitors, they didn't have any power to betray you. They couldn't do anything to stop this from being declassified. Talk to Barack Obama. He's the one who made the call.
2) The FBI dispute with the CIA gives Republicans plausible reasons to question the wisdom of suffering a huge political blow, even though I think the CIA is quite right. It's not ridiculous to think the FBI is right, and given the dispute, I can see why ordinary rational people would not elect to pay a huge cost to get this out there right before an election.
3) That Russia supports Trump in no way implies that Trump has been suborned or bribed by Russia. There are perfectly rational strategic reasons for them to support Trump that are more than adequate to account for their support. Clinton represented a serious threat to Russian interests, and maybe a serious threat to the Russian mainland if things escalated into full-scale nuclear war. Indeed, Russia's reaction to our election is perhaps the most fully rational thing that the 2016 election has produced.
So let's tone down this talk of 'treason.' It's not wise, and it's not warranted.