The controversy “du jour” is the Russian hacking of emails of the Democratic National Committee. On Thursday, December 29 President Obama finally took measures against Russia by declaring over 30 Russian Intelligence Agents personae non grata and giving them 72 hours to leave the United States.
Prior to and following the Presidential election, pundits and politicians alike made claims ranging from actual tampering with voting machines to the effect the WikiLeaks release of emails and other documents from the DNC had on the election results. To date, no credible information has revealed that voting machines or actual votes were tampered with.
But that is not the issue here. The issue is that 17 intelligence agencies, along with at least 99% of the United States Senate, believe there was an attempt by a foreign government to interfere, at some level, with our election. The notable exception is Donald Trump, who claimed loudly and often before his surprise win that the election was “rigged.” The same Donald Trump who dismisses the 17 intelligence agencies and told Americans to “move on with their lives.”
“Dirty tricks” are certainly nothing new in politics. From claims that Bill Clinton fathered an illegitimate son to the “birther” claims that Barak Obama was not born on US soils to the story published by the National Enquirer that Ted Cruz’s father was implicated in the assassination of JFK, most of these tricks capture the public’s attention for a few days and then disappear. Interestingly, the latter two mentioned were supported by Donald Trump, who only recently recanted his birther claims against Obama.
Now Trump and his supporters are responding to the hacking charges in several ways. One is, nothing to see here folks, just move along. Oh look, a squirrel. Others try to make the argument that the DNC is a private organization and that breaking into their computer systems, stealing information, then releasing that information during the election was not a big deal. They even blame John Podesta for the DNC woes because he inadvertently opened the door to the hackers.
Well, there is someone, who if he were alive today, might beg to differ on this argument. The master of dirty tricks himself, Richard M. Nixon. In the 1972 equivalent of hacking the DNC, a small group of Republican campaign operatives broke into the DNC headquarters in Washington, D. C. to plant listening devices in an attempt to obtain information they could use against the Democrats in the election.
They were caught because an alert night watchman noticed that a door had been left ajar. At the time of the incident, it was reported as a “third-rate”burglary.” The Nixon campaign disavowed all knowledge of the burglars. Nothing to see here folks, just move along. Oh look, something shiny.
It was only after the election, which Nixon ironically won in a major landslide, that the real story came out. Two dogged reporters from The Washington Post revealed a political scandal that became forever known as Watergate after the name of the building where the DNC headquarters were located This scandal eventually led to the first-ever resignation of a sitting President.
The attack against the DNC during this election differs from Watergate only in that this time the burglars were successful. That makes it far more problematic than Watergate. What is equally problematic is that this “burglary” was carried out by a foreign government hostile to our country.
The real scandal of Watergate was not the break in, but the cover up. A cover up that reached right up to Richard Nixon himself. We cannot depend that there are reporters out there who can discover if there is, indeed, a cover up going on with the Russian activities.
Congress must begin an investigation immediately. This time they have the information from a multitude of intelligence agencies, not just a couple of journalists. A bi-partisan committee, along the lines of the Watergate Committee, needs to conduct a thorough investigation. Otherwise, the results of the election and the Trump presidency will be forever tainted.
Donald Trump, our soon-to-be president denies, in the face of all the information out there, that the Russians did any hacking. Is he covering up for his friend Putin? When he made claims of a “rigged election” did he know what the Russians were doing? These are serious considerations and the American people have the right to know if Trump or any member of his campaign were complicit in the hacking or in any subsequent cover up. They have the right to ask “What did he know, and when did he know it?”
If Trump and his campaign operatives were not involved, then they should surely welcome the opportunity to show this to the public. But if they refuse to comply, then Congress, on behalf of the constituents they serve, and the Constitution they have sworn to preserve and protect, must take any and all appropriate actions.
America does not need, nor does it deserve, another Watergate.