Donald Trump and the Russian Connection

BENJAMIN HUMMEL Columnist

As students across the country pour back into their dorms and apartments, and the New Year’s responsibilities and stresses flood back to the minds of all Americans, we find ourselves reminded of something: Donald Trump is going to be the next president.

While it seemed to be enough of a shock that a former reality television showrunner was elected in the first place, even more unsettling news cropped up in the past couple weeks: the results of a joint operation between all three of the United States’ intelligence agencies revealed that the hacks on the Democratic National Committee’s database were the results of a state-sponsored Russian hacking effort, meant to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton. The leaks of pilfered emails came from Russia, disclosed by Wikileaks.

This alone presents a problem for Trump as it brings the legitimacy of his victory, as well as his relationship with Russia, into the spotlight. Officials on both sides of the aisle have criticized Trump for being too soft on Russia, and this recent exposure only legitimizes their concerns.

Political commentators, such as New York Times’ David Sanger, say it is going too far to consider Russia a hostile foreign power. However, top officials of the CIA, FBI and NSA believe this is the most severe violation of American democracy from an external entity in recent history. Even though no voting machines were tampered with, it should be noted that a foreign power conducted a successful infiltration and received their desired outcome through the election of Trump.

Meanwhile, the president-elect has seemingly been downplaying the effect of the hacks on the election through his tweets. For example:

  • “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place. The Republican National Committee had strong defense!”
  • “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!”

  • “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only “stupid” people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We…”
  • “…have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now and…”

  • “…both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

The language used here shifted blame and misconduct to the DNC, all while refusing to acknowledge any foul play on Russia’s part, and, of course, praising himself and his abilities to broker peace between the two countries. Not only that, Trump tries to reassure that his presidency will usher in a new era of friendlier relations with Russia and Putin.

Trump’s mistake here is that he lacks any real principles binding the people he is tasked to represent to those who conducted an elaborate hacking campaign to influence them. As this story develops, the narrative can only denigrate Trump.

 

Benjamin Hummel is an English and speech & communications major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]