The Democrats’ latest talking point about the “Russia” investigation is that President Trump has shown no interest in the part of it that pertains to what Russia did to interfere in the 2016 election. Not surprisingly, the Washington Post peddles this talking point in a story by Phillip Bump about Attorney General Sessions’ testimony today. He writes:
In his testimony, Sessions told Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) that he “did not recall” any meeting during which Trump expressed concern or curiosity about what Russia had been doing during the 2016 election. Sessions also testified that he himself, as the country’s and Trump’s lead law enforcement official, was never briefed on Russian interference. . . .
[This] comported with what former FBI director James B. Comey said before the same committee last week. . .Manchin asked Comey whether Trump had ever expressed curiosity about Russia’s attempts to swing the election; Comey said that he “[didn’t] remember any conversations with the president about the Russia election interference.”
But what, exactly, is Trump supposed to be curious about? He knows that the intelligence agencies believe Russia was behind the hacking of DNC and John Podesta emails, and he now agrees that this probably was the case. He knows that the integrity of the actual voting process was not compromised. He believes Russian hacking and propaganda did not affect the outcome of the election, and knows that the intelligence community has not concluded otherwise.
Trump probably doesn’t know the technical issues associated with Russian hacking — spear phishing, and all that. But unless he’s a computer geek, it’s unreasonable to expect him to be curious about these in-and-outs. Indeed, like me, he probably wouldn’t be able to understand them. In any case, he has more important things to do.
Bump says the Russia investigation is “an important step toward assuring the sanctity of American elections.” I doubt it. The sanctity of our elections is assured by figuring out how to combat hacking and, if necessary, figuring how to retaliate. This is not the focus of the Justice Department investigation.
There are three things we need to know: what Russia has done to interfere in past elections; what it might do to interfere in the future; and what steps we can take to counteract such interference. As noted above, I think we already know what Russia did to interfere with the 2016 election.
The other issues — what Russia might do in the future and how we can frustrate Russian interference — are not, I assume, part of the fact investigation conducted by the FBI (and now the special counsel). Thus, as I said, I doubt that the DOJ investigation has much to do with “assuring the sanctity of our elections.”
If the DOJ investigation, or more likely the congressional investigations, produces recommendations on how to counteract Russian interference, Trump should, at that point, pay attention. So too, if investigators discover heretofore unknown acts of significance committed by Russia to interfere in the election. Until then, there really isn’t any reason why he should.
Just because the Democrats and Trump’s enemies in media have chosen to obsess over hacked DNC and Podesta emails and RT (Russian television) propaganda doesn’t mean President Trump — or the rest of us — should.