34.5 F
Saturday, March 25, 2023
HomeIllinois NewsRhoads: Sorting out Russian Hacking

Rhoads: Sorting out Russian Hacking



By Mark Rhoads - CIA seal

U.S. Intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee chaired by Sen. John McCain Thursday that they believe Vladimir Putin ordered the KGB and GRU to hack American political email servers of both parties, but used go-between agents to funnel the information to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

President-elect Trump is hypersensitive about this story because he thinks some Democrats want to use the Russian interference in the U.S. election process to de-legitimize his win over Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. The intelligence agencies are also hypersensitive to doubts about their own credibility, as stated by Trump in tweets.

Trump is both right and wrong at the same time, and so are the agencies, in part.

Trump is right that many Democrats think that Putin for his own reasons wanted Clinton to lose and Trump to win. But Trump, the Russians, the Democrats, and the U.S. media are all wrong if they think Clinton's and her campaign director John Podesta's email leaks were a major factor in motivating millions of voters to reject Hillary Clinton and vote for Donald Trump instead.

No polls have shown that Clinton's stupid and reckless email controversy was a major factor in shifting a large number of votes at the last minute before Nov. 8. Many voters who thought Hillary was dishonest and reckless about her email server had already made their negative conclusions about her character and fitness for office a long time before the email leaks stories from Wikileaks started to obsess the cable news networks in late October.

Most voters who were for Trump had already made up their minds to vote for him many weeks before the Wikileaks stories. Did Putin want Clinton to lose and Trump to win for his own agenda?  Evidence is strong that yes, Putin did. But there is little evidence that the email leak stories alone were a major factor in the Trump win or Clinton loss.

The reason is that voters had many other issues on their minds that were more directly important to them personally on Nov. 8, such as restoring jobs to the U.S. and protecting the U.S. from terrorist threats. Clinton already trailed Trump on those issues in early October.

The negative stories from Wikileaks about Clinton emails certainly did not help her at a critical time in the campaign but they were not the major reason she lost. Far more harmful in terms of timing for the Clinton campaign was the statement by FBI Director James Comey on Oct. 28 that the FBI had to re-open their investigation into possibly classified Clinton emails found on a device owned by Huma Abedin and her ex-husband and former Congressman, Anthony Wiener.

It took the FBI many days to find out that most of those emails were duplicates of emails they already had looked at, but the second Comey "clearance" of Clinton for the intentional violation of classified procedures was too close to the election to help her. Even the conflicting Comey statements were not necessarily a deal killer for Clinton but they did likely stop her momentum cold and help Trump in that way.

But last-minute news stories always have some impact on campaign momentum. The late stories about President Obama's appearance of leadership in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts at a time when Mitt Romney had to step out of the news just before the 2012 election helped Obama and hurt Romney, but it is impossible to know if that gap alone was enough to decide that election.  

So Trump and the media would be better advised to just turn the page. Let Congress find out what the Russians did and why so that such interference cannot be repeated in future elections, but Trump is still the legitimate president-elect who will take office on Jan. 20.    


- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories


  1. Angela Merkel – the highly destructive, former Stassi, Chancellor of Germany – is far more a threat to the USA than is Vladimir Putin. A US/Russian alliance would be far more beneficial to the future of Christendom, than anything imaginable.
    Do notice that Putin’s Russia was destroying ISIS in the Levant, when Obama’s administration was afraid to.
    The one-term State legislator from suburban Chicago, who wrote this, knows no more about geopolitical politics, than he does about baking souffles.