Muftic: Trump adversaries, Iran and China, are meddling in our elections
President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has just issued a warning about Iran, North Korea and China tampering with our November midterm elections. The shoe is now on the other foot since both Iran and China have reasons to help Trump’s opponents in 2018.
The lesson we should learn from this is opposing interference by any foreign governments in our election process needs to be countered vigorously no matter who the perpetrators are or who they harm or help. American elections ought to be decided by Americans, not by foreign adversaries, but when it comes to the Russians, GOP and the administration still fiddle while Rome burns.
Until now, the Trump administration has either been permissive toward past and future Russian manipulation or it has dismissed evidence of Russian activities in 2016 which helped Donald Trump to be elected. Iran and China are not friends of the Trump administration. Iran and China can now take a page from the successful Russian attack methods and use the same techniques against Trump-backed candidates that the Russians got away with. In fact, Russians are still getting away with it now, in 2018, per our security services.
It is still the policy of the White House to either deny or obstruct probes into Russian attacks or to fail to take leadership to block such attacks. Individual security agencies are doing what they can and the private social media sector is beginning to step up to the plate. Last week Google took down 58 Iran related web sites, following the lead of Twitter, but self policing by social media using their own arbitrary standards has also met resistance from those who advocate first amendment rights in the press.
In a press conference Aug. 2, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, flanked by representatives of our intelligence services, warned that Russia was once again interfering in the 2018 November elections. In response, President Trump issued an edict to security services to give counter measures a priority and then at a rally in Pennsylvania that very evening called the Russia thing a “hoax,” undermining his own position.
So which is it, Donald Trump? Russian interference a hoax and a witch hunt or a threat to our democracy dependent on elections we can trust? And is it OK for your loyal supporters to consider Iranian and Chinese interference to be OK, too?
The GOP Congress has taken its cue from the White House and their constituents, refusing to give extra funding to states to harden their election systems to protect them from foreign hackers. They are listening to their constituents who have swallowed the Trump administration’s Kool-Aid. A Yahoo Finance/SurveyMonkey poll of 2,509 Americans conducted July 25-27 show that 40 percent of Republicans are OK with Russian meddling and 11 percent in fact welcome it. 75 percent of Republicans polled by Ipsos July 16-17 believe the Mueller probe resulted from FBI bias and 30 percent of Republicans approved of the Mueller investigation. Mueller has found no witches; just six felons who pleaded or were found guilty, not counting those related to the Michael Cohen case.
With the prospect of Iran and China supporting Trump’s opposition candidates in 2018 and 2020, the shoe will be on the other foot. One can imagine that Iran will increase anger, turnout, and identify through United States voter rolls those likely to oppose Administration’s saber rattling and sanctions policy. Chinese would likely target those in the United States agricultural sector who have felt the sting of retaliatory Chinese tariffs raised against their products soybeans, corn, pork and beef.
A warning to the foolish: what goes around comes around.
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