Trump Apologists Keep Denying Russian Impact On U.S. Election Integrity

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Imagine if one fraction of the evidence that any Democrat encouraged foreign espionage to commit election fraud existed, like Trump openly admitted. Would his or her political career would be over in a matter of minutes?

There's no question there's an obvious double standard at play. But the relentlessness of the mistakes this man makes that would disqualify any other candidate are thrown at us at such breakneck speed, the outcome is the exact opposite: He's bulletproof. No scandal lasts long enough to stick.

CNN's State of the Union featured a discussion on the influence of the Russian hacking on our election. The far right wing was well-represented by ex-Bachmann/Cruz communications director, Alice Stewart, and Frothy himself, Rick Santorum. On the other side of the aisle we have one Hillary Clinton ally, Neera Tanden, and a vehement opponent of Hillary Clinton, Nina Turner, Bernie Sanders' biggest cheerleader.

Tapper starts the discussion with a clip of the blatantly audacious statement from Trump's last press conference, dated July 27th. He openly calls for the illegal hacking of the emails of his opponent. This call to commit a crime had no negative consequences on the outcome, just like his bragging that he could 'shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.'

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
(That still makes my skin crawl.)

TAPPER: ...We're pretty sure Russia will be listening this time as well. What does he need to say when the subject (of Russia) comes up at the press conference?

SANTORUM: I think what he will say is what President Bush said, what President Obama said which is that, you know, he's going to -- on the subject of Russia try to chart a new path and reset the relationship. And that he's tweeted many times that he's going to have a better relationship with Russia. President Obama said that. President Bush said that, and I think President Trump is going to try that.


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Santorum praised St. Ronnie for his engagement with the then-Soviet Union and credited Reagan for bringing down the communist giant. Santorum believes that Trump "can engage Russia in a way that's more constructive." Because autocrats who jail or disappear dissidents are known for being open-minded, right?

Tapper asks Neera Tanden to comment on the reports from Russian hacking, which also directly affected her own emails. She urged Trump to be honest about the intel he received.

TANDEN: I don't understand why he cannot simply acknowledge that fact. He had his intelligence briefings. He's still misstating facts. He said they went -- they only went after Democrats. They never went after the Republicans. They did go after the Republicans. They haven't released that information.

And so I have to say I just do not understand why he will not basically state these facts, and the fact that he won't, makes me worried. And that's why I think it's a little ridiculous that we haven't had a single investigation out of the House, 33 investigations in the House on Benghazi. This is an issue in which all of our intelligence agencies are saying this is a clear threat, not just for now but for the future, and I don't understand why the president-elect, why Trump, will not say, 'I'm going to take action on this' and why Speaker Ryan won't hold a single hearing on it.

Playing defense, Alice Stewart explains that we've known about Chinese and Russian hacking for years, so she's confused about the sudden interest now. She throws China in there for distraction and also pretends that she doesn't know why hacking government databases is different than direct manipulation of our 'free and fair' elections.

STEWART: Why all of a sudden now during an election year?

TANDEN: Because they tried to -- they did -- they tried to get Donald Trump elected.. That's why it's a big deal.

STEWART: The frustration with Trump and the Trump campaign is the Democrats' effort to undermine his victory. He won this election fair and square to the electoral process...

STEWART: ... and now by focusing on the Russian hacking with regard to -- yes, we know that based on the evidence presented at the hearings that Putin did dictate influencing and hacking into the American institutions to influence the election...

TANDEN: I'm glad --you can admit that.

STEWART: ... but there has been zero evidence to prove whatsoever without a shadow of the doubt that it impacted the outcome of the election.

TANDEN: That's because the intelligence agencies -- please read the report, the intelligence agencies have said they can't determine that but obviously the fact that Donald Trump used it 164 times in the month of October shows you that there must have been something.

All the Trump proxies have been using the same talking point: that the investigation proved that it didn't have impact on the election. But that's not what the report said, as Tanden points out. The investigation didn't include investigating what, if any, effect Russia's activities had, which would have been virtually impossible to quantify. It didn't conclude that there was no effect. It stated that it did not seek to prove that one way or the other. And of course, not one person, including Tapper, corrected that other than Tanden.

Instead, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner agreed with Stewart that Trump legitimately won the election. With Democrats like Nina, who needs enemies, right? She threw Democrats under the bus in October following the release of confidential emails.

TURNER: ...Now, the election was free and fair, you know. I do not believe that that meddling, as bad as it was, influenced the outcome. President- elect won the electoral college and he will be sworn in as president...

So let's get this straight: Hillary Clinton's private email server was unforgivable, without evidence of any wrongdoing on her part, despite multiple investigations by multiple agencies. But when all of our intelligence agencies agree that Russia clearly meddled in our elections for a long time, in a big way, who cares?

Do you understand the logic? I don't.

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