At the core of Trump’s historic dismissive attitude toward Russian involvement in the 2016 elections is, of course, a fear that it might cast a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of his own election. Here is a man who knows well the mercurial dynamics of casting doubt on the legitimacy of a Presidential election, since he spent years doing precisely that with Barack Obama, in the questioning of his qualification as a U.S. born citizen.
With the recent Mueller indictments against Russian operatives illegally involved in the 2016 elections, the Trumpian cover that this is all ‘fake news’ has been substantially blown. Nevertheless, he has tweeted that the indictments have not mentioned ‘collusion’ and that there was no impact on his ‘legitimate’ election. Hence, he is home free!
By now, commentators have rightly pointed out that such optimism is more than a tad bit premature on the president’s part. The proverbial ‘other shoe’ has not yet dropped!
It appears that the bulk of the Russian ‘interference’ was on social media. During the campaign, anyone who utilized social media was clearly aware of the increasingly strident posts, demonizing Trump's opponents, with a particular viciousness toward Hillary Clinton.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that social media undoubtedly played, at least a modest role, in the final decision of some voters who found themselves in a Catch-22 situation, between two flawed candidates.
The indictment specifies that operatives worked specifically in Florida, doing their dirty work, for obvious reasons. On election night, as I was watching the returns and saw how close the numbers were in Florida, I realized that there was trouble for the Hillary camp.
Despite the BS from Trump that it was, in the end, a ‘landslide’ Electoral College victory for him, though losing the popular vote to Hillary by some 3 million votes – which, of course, he claims speciously to have been cast by ‘illegal’ Mexicans (give me a break), the truth of the matter, historically, is much more complex.
In a December 1, 2016, Washington Post article by Philip Bump, entitled “Donald Trump will be president thanks to 80,000 people in three states,” the author insightfully states:
…all that matters is that Trump got more electoral college votes, thanks to having won more states. In many cases, those wins were much more narrow than Clinton's, which also helps power the gap between the electoral vote and the popular one. Trump won 18 states by fewer than 250,000 votes; Clinton, 13.
The most important states, though, were Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively — and by 10,704, 46,765 and 22,177 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she'd have won the electoral vote, too. Or put another way: But for 79,646 votes cast in those three states, she'd be the next president of the United States.
Conclusion – Anyone who naively maintains that the Russians had absolutely no part in swinging the recent election toward Trump, and that includes the 'commander in chief,' might well question that conclusion. I certainly do.