Insane: Even Republicans Think 2020 Russian Election Meddling Will Help Trump

In his ballyhooed hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in July, Special Counsel Robert Mueller forewarned lawmakers that Russian meddling in U.S. elections didn't end in 2016, and Russia would again try to subvert American democracy during next year's presidential election.  "In fact," he emphasized, they're "still doing it as we sit here."  Mueller would further add that in 2020, the threat would not come from Russia alone.  "Many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done."

It appears that at least some cross section of voters agrees.  Whether compelling or not, notions of "collusion" and "interference" are not leaving the public's radar.  With under six months until the first presidential primary in Iowa, voters are saying Russia will likely try to interfere in the next presidential election.  From a survey of 1,998 registered voters, 61 percent said it was "likely" Russia would try to meddle in the 2020 presidential election.  That is strikingly 14 percentage points higher than the 47 percent who said the same about last year's midterm elections in an October 2018 poll.

While more voters from both sides are disposed to say they believe that Russia (and maybe others) will try to interfere, they did not change their minds about which party stands to gain from any such foreign interference.  From this most recent survey, a plurality of voters (49 percent) said that if Russia did try to influence the 2020 presidential election, it would more likely help Republican candidates than Democrats.  That number compared to 48 percent who said the same for the 2018 midterms.  Amazingly, even surveyed Republican voters believed, in greater numbers than not, that Russian interference "would help their [Republican] candidates."

Such a perception — that Russian meddling (or any foreign interference) would favor the Republican candidate — warrants vigorous pushback.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Let's think about it.  What are Russia's and anyone else's motives and objectives for attempts to interfere in our elections?  Which candidate — what party — would Russia or others want to see in a 2020 White House?  Just as in 2016, it is not Donald Trump.

Did Russia meddle in the 2016 election?  Yes, but modestly and sans any organized scheme of coordination, conspiracy, or "collusion" with the Trump campaign.  It wasn't necessary and would pay Russia no dividends.  The Democrats with Hillary Clinton were Russia's preferred party and candidate all along.  Russia could have achieved its objectives — at less cost and effort — with the pliable globalist Clinton.

In the Democrat Hillary Clinton, Russia saw both a party and a candidate more interested in globalists' demands from Kyoto, Paris, and Davos than tough issues like global proxy wars, Russian revanchism, Islamic terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and NATO solidarity.  Given the world's pre-election political and media consensus, the Kremlin was almost assuredly comfortable with a Clinton victory.  Vladimir Putin was probably just as surprised as CNN that November Wednesday morning to learn that the "impossible" had occurred.  In reality, autocrats, dictators, and warlords around the world wanted the more malleable Mrs. Clinton instead of the nationalistic and assertive Donald Trump, who campaigned on, and then adopted, a more aggressive "America first" leadership approach to defense and foreign policy.  Donald Trump was not "their man" then; he is not their choice now.

Today, much is the same.  The Democratic liberal and globalist candidate will square off with the now known quantity — nationalistic and assertive — Donald Trump.  What would Russia hope to achieve with efforts to interfere in 2020?  What would motivate any foreign entity to meddle?  First and foremost, to sow (even more) acrimony and discord among political parties and voters to undermine, destabilize, and weaken American government, society, and leadership.  Who wins is immaterial and secondary to the tumult created.  In that regard, Kremlin hands must have exchanged fist bumps and high fives for the bonus effects from their modest efforts in 2016.  Why wouldn't foreign adversaries and competitors seek to repeat and build on that destructive political and societal mayhem today?

Then, given their choice, U.S. competitors and adversaries would love to sit back and watch us fiscally exhaust ourselves on social programs, particularly costly domestic programs, instead of defense and security.  Enacting some "Green New Deal" and legislating against our newfound energy independence would gratify competitors and adversaries alike.  It would be just fine with them to see our national debt further grow to completely unmanageable proportions.  They hope we take more interest in Davos, Paris, and climate change than Russian or Chinese adventurism.  They're also observing the breakdown of our societal mores, laws, and order and would take perverse pleasure in watching Americans further divided by "identity politics" of race, sex, religion, and political animus.  U.S. adversaries desire us to be globalists, internationalists, and borderless instead of nationalists, compatriots, and sovereign.  A Mexican or Iranian flag raised over a U.S. facility or ship without consequences would be cheered.

And where do they hear this kind of talk and this kind of proposals?  Largely from the Democratic Party.

Another telltale question is, whom would Russia — and other global actors — want to see in the White House come 2020?  Whom would Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping prefer to face in a high-stakes geopolitical stare-down over, say, the Baltics, Central Asia, or the South China Sea?  In a global trade, financial, or economic dispute?  Which candidate would the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or the North Korean Kim Jong-un prefer to see in the White House if, say, Joe Biden, with his Obama administration past, remains the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee?  If "the past is prologue," global actors like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and others will all default to wanting the Democratic candidate elected, and even more so after hearing the candidates' proposals during the first two rounds of Democratic debates echoing the previous Democratic administration's promise to "fundamentally change America."

Finally, it is the Democratic Party, particularly its more leftist elements, that would be first to exploit for political gain a scenario where Russia did absolutely nothing during the 2020 election.  Someone would simply have to suggest that Russia, or some other actor, interfered or meddled in order to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.  Political mayhem would ensue, and we would repeat 2016.  One need look no farther than the past nearly three years, with its political, press, and media "collusion" narrative, for a vision of how that would work.

Regardless, there is little doubt that U.S. competitors and adversaries are already nefariously at work devising some new and elaborate schemes to undermine America's democratic processes.  In the meantime, they have to be quite pleased with what they hear coming from the Democratic Party.  People there are already making that work much easier.  You can bet that every possible effort will be made by adversaries to see that those are the people put in office to the great detriment of this nation.

Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) served in policy advisory positions in both the Pentagon and the State Department.  He was a National Defense Fellow at Harvard University.  As a military aviator, he flew C-130 Hercules aircraft.  Contact him at cjkrisinger@gmail.com.

In his ballyhooed hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in July, Special Counsel Robert Mueller forewarned lawmakers that Russian meddling in U.S. elections didn't end in 2016, and Russia would again try to subvert American democracy during next year's presidential election.  "In fact," he emphasized, they're "still doing it as we sit here."  Mueller would further add that in 2020, the threat would not come from Russia alone.  "Many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done."

It appears that at least some cross section of voters agrees.  Whether compelling or not, notions of "collusion" and "interference" are not leaving the public's radar.  With under six months until the first presidential primary in Iowa, voters are saying Russia will likely try to interfere in the next presidential election.  From a survey of 1,998 registered voters, 61 percent said it was "likely" Russia would try to meddle in the 2020 presidential election.  That is strikingly 14 percentage points higher than the 47 percent who said the same about last year's midterm elections in an October 2018 poll.

While more voters from both sides are disposed to say they believe that Russia (and maybe others) will try to interfere, they did not change their minds about which party stands to gain from any such foreign interference.  From this most recent survey, a plurality of voters (49 percent) said that if Russia did try to influence the 2020 presidential election, it would more likely help Republican candidates than Democrats.  That number compared to 48 percent who said the same for the 2018 midterms.  Amazingly, even surveyed Republican voters believed, in greater numbers than not, that Russian interference "would help their [Republican] candidates."

Such a perception — that Russian meddling (or any foreign interference) would favor the Republican candidate — warrants vigorous pushback.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Let's think about it.  What are Russia's and anyone else's motives and objectives for attempts to interfere in our elections?  Which candidate — what party — would Russia or others want to see in a 2020 White House?  Just as in 2016, it is not Donald Trump.

Did Russia meddle in the 2016 election?  Yes, but modestly and sans any organized scheme of coordination, conspiracy, or "collusion" with the Trump campaign.  It wasn't necessary and would pay Russia no dividends.  The Democrats with Hillary Clinton were Russia's preferred party and candidate all along.  Russia could have achieved its objectives — at less cost and effort — with the pliable globalist Clinton.

In the Democrat Hillary Clinton, Russia saw both a party and a candidate more interested in globalists' demands from Kyoto, Paris, and Davos than tough issues like global proxy wars, Russian revanchism, Islamic terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and NATO solidarity.  Given the world's pre-election political and media consensus, the Kremlin was almost assuredly comfortable with a Clinton victory.  Vladimir Putin was probably just as surprised as CNN that November Wednesday morning to learn that the "impossible" had occurred.  In reality, autocrats, dictators, and warlords around the world wanted the more malleable Mrs. Clinton instead of the nationalistic and assertive Donald Trump, who campaigned on, and then adopted, a more aggressive "America first" leadership approach to defense and foreign policy.  Donald Trump was not "their man" then; he is not their choice now.

Today, much is the same.  The Democratic liberal and globalist candidate will square off with the now known quantity — nationalistic and assertive — Donald Trump.  What would Russia hope to achieve with efforts to interfere in 2020?  What would motivate any foreign entity to meddle?  First and foremost, to sow (even more) acrimony and discord among political parties and voters to undermine, destabilize, and weaken American government, society, and leadership.  Who wins is immaterial and secondary to the tumult created.  In that regard, Kremlin hands must have exchanged fist bumps and high fives for the bonus effects from their modest efforts in 2016.  Why wouldn't foreign adversaries and competitors seek to repeat and build on that destructive political and societal mayhem today?

Then, given their choice, U.S. competitors and adversaries would love to sit back and watch us fiscally exhaust ourselves on social programs, particularly costly domestic programs, instead of defense and security.  Enacting some "Green New Deal" and legislating against our newfound energy independence would gratify competitors and adversaries alike.  It would be just fine with them to see our national debt further grow to completely unmanageable proportions.  They hope we take more interest in Davos, Paris, and climate change than Russian or Chinese adventurism.  They're also observing the breakdown of our societal mores, laws, and order and would take perverse pleasure in watching Americans further divided by "identity politics" of race, sex, religion, and political animus.  U.S. adversaries desire us to be globalists, internationalists, and borderless instead of nationalists, compatriots, and sovereign.  A Mexican or Iranian flag raised over a U.S. facility or ship without consequences would be cheered.

And where do they hear this kind of talk and this kind of proposals?  Largely from the Democratic Party.

Another telltale question is, whom would Russia — and other global actors — want to see in the White House come 2020?  Whom would Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping prefer to face in a high-stakes geopolitical stare-down over, say, the Baltics, Central Asia, or the South China Sea?  In a global trade, financial, or economic dispute?  Which candidate would the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or the North Korean Kim Jong-un prefer to see in the White House if, say, Joe Biden, with his Obama administration past, remains the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee?  If "the past is prologue," global actors like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and others will all default to wanting the Democratic candidate elected, and even more so after hearing the candidates' proposals during the first two rounds of Democratic debates echoing the previous Democratic administration's promise to "fundamentally change America."

Finally, it is the Democratic Party, particularly its more leftist elements, that would be first to exploit for political gain a scenario where Russia did absolutely nothing during the 2020 election.  Someone would simply have to suggest that Russia, or some other actor, interfered or meddled in order to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.  Political mayhem would ensue, and we would repeat 2016.  One need look no farther than the past nearly three years, with its political, press, and media "collusion" narrative, for a vision of how that would work.

Regardless, there is little doubt that U.S. competitors and adversaries are already nefariously at work devising some new and elaborate schemes to undermine America's democratic processes.  In the meantime, they have to be quite pleased with what they hear coming from the Democratic Party.  People there are already making that work much easier.  You can bet that every possible effort will be made by adversaries to see that those are the people put in office to the great detriment of this nation.

Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) served in policy advisory positions in both the Pentagon and the State Department.  He was a National Defense Fellow at Harvard University.  As a military aviator, he flew C-130 Hercules aircraft.  Contact him at cjkrisinger@gmail.com.