Folks, it just gets crazier and crazier. This is huge. When I sat down at the computer last night I had no idea that I would hear my Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley say what he said on his recent YouTube video concerning the election. Sen. Merkley is at the cutting edge of any remaining chance the People have to contest Trump’s victory. The senator is very aware of the anomalies (that’s too nice a word) that allowed the GOP to ‘win.’ And he’s determined to find out more…
The interview is transcribed below, with a few key points in bold. There’s one point, though, that I’ve put in red and bold—because if it’s true, folks, it’s out of the park… You’ll know what I mean at the bottom of this post, where I offer a few comments.
Oh, and one more thing—it seems that I too have been h a c k e d! The program that supports this blog suddenly has started working strangely, and my computer has slowed to a crawl on certain functions. Just to show you, the word “h a c k” occurs several times in the interview below. If I type it without spaces (except in the title), my post won’t save! I guess someone, somewhere, is playing games and apparently conveying a warning. I suspect our playful comrades in Russia… It took me an hour to figure this one out. But I’m going forward undeterred. You’ll now read the offending word with spaces. That works. Just so you know what pains people are going through these days to get you the news… Wake up, folks: we’re under attack!
Now, please read on…
CHRIS HAYES (MSNBC): I’m joined now by democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat from Oregon who formerly worked as a national security analyst at the Pentagon. Your reaction to the president today [at his final news conference before going to Hawaii for the holidays]… There are a lot of folks who wanted him to be more vociferous, more pointed, to maybe call out Donald Trump for his refusal to accept the intelligence community consensus… What was your reaction?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, we have to recognize that this is the political equivalent of 9/11. Russia has attacked the core process in our nation, the core process behind our presidency. This is not just a modest deal, or a big deal. This is a gigantic issue and it deserves massive exploration. Declassification. Americans need to know the story. We have to develop a strategy for it to never happen again. And we need to understand the full depth of it. For example, the New York Times has reported that it’s not just Russia h a c k i n g to influence the presidential election, but also to influence congressional elections. So, a bipartisan independent commission similar to that for 9/11 is absolutely essential.
CH: So, on that policy ground, the president called for that. Dick Durbin has been on this program calling for that. Ben Cardin has called for it. Others have as well. You’re of the belief that should happen. But I can’t help but notice that your tone about this is very different than the president’s. The president took pains today to kind of tamp down the rhetoric about this, basically saying, ‘We hold our own destiny in our hands, and if our political culture weren’t as bad as it is, and if the media weren’t as bad as it is, we wouldn’t be here.’ You’re calling this ‘the political equivalent of 9/11.’ Who’s right?
SEN. JM: Well, certainly I feel like the president feels a responsibility to have a gracious transition of power. He feels that’s his role at the moment. But our role is to recognize that our political system has been h a c k e d by a hostile foreign power, and that that is a huge issue. It compromises the legitimacy of the presidency coming in. [2:00] We have a president-elect who lost the citizen’s election, and now we find out a lot of these very narrow votes in key states were influenced by a Russian operation. And that is completely unacceptable. So we’ve really got to go at this with a lot of vigor. What’s missing in the puzzle are the Republicans standing up. We really need to have this bipartisan commission. Imagine the situation if it was reversed. The FBI found out in September, 2015, that the DNC was being hacked and they didn’t go brief the DNC… Can you imagine if that was the Republican National Committee and was hacked and the FBI didn’t fill them in? They would be up in arms! We’ve got to walk in each others’ shoes here. This is just an unacceptable assault.
CH: So, in terms of walking in each others’ shoes, I want to be specific here. You mentioned the narrow margins, and I assume you mean across the three states that determined the election—80,000 votes… We don’t have any specific causal evidence, right, that the leaks themselves produced the outcome, [do we]? Do you believe they were definitive?
SEN. JM: Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘definitive,’ because there were many elements in those final days, including the actions of our Director of the FBI. I must say that the Director of the FBI, between not briefing the DNC about the Russian hacking, and then interfering eleven days before the election, has really proven himself in history—he’ll be one of the worst Directors we’ve ever had. This is just an outrageous performance by the FBI.
CH: What do you say to folks—Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, other Republicans—who basically say: “You, Senator, are sour grapes. You’re being a sore loser, and you’re attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the duly elected incoming president-elect of the United States?”
[4:15] SEN. JM: I would say that if you’re a patriotic American, you care when America is attacked. And attacking the validity of our elections goes right to the heart of who we are. So, let’s stand together, let’s take on this threat, let’s fully explore it, let’s fully understand it. And it does cast a cloud over the incoming administration. That’s because of the facts. And it’s the facts of the situation—it’s not political positioning—that casts that cloud.
CH: Alright. Senator Jeff Merkley, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
(1) “who formerly worked as a national security analyst at the Pentagon.” No if’s, and’s, or but’s: Senator Jeff Merkley is uniquely qualified—perhaps the most qualified Senator—to tackle this momentous issue of h a c k i n g.
(2) “this is the political equivalent of 9/11.” This needs emphasis. How many times do we hear Republicans downplay this whole cyber-debacle as just “Democrat sour grapes”?
(3) “the New York Times has reported that it’s not just Russia h a c k i n g to influence the presidential election, but also to influence congressional elections.” Okay. Now we know: It’s not only the Presidency and Vice-Presidency that are at stake. We’re talking about an assault on our government that is right up and down the ticket: senators, representatives, you name it… The Russians have apparently aided the GOP on all levels. So, let me ask you: Did a Republican win any position in your state? Well, if so, you’d better wonder: Was it legit?!
(4) “and now we find out a lot of these very narrow votes in key states were influenced by a Russian operation.” The foregoing points are huge, but this one is the biggie for me. It’s monstrous. From the very start we’ve been told by everybody—even by President Obama—that there’s “no evidence” the Russian h a c k i n g influenced the actual vote. And so, Clinton quickly conceded on election night, Obama concluded “Trump won,” and they go into the woodwork (or to Hawaii for the holidays). But, wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute… Senator Merkley is now implying that in all probability Trump didn’t win! The Russians won for him. It was not our democracy in action on November 8. It was the Kremlin cybergeeks in action!
Are you starting to get the picture? We pride ourselves that every four years we pick our leaders. But we may not have picked them this time. It looks more and more like Russia and Vladimir Putin picked them for us! Senator Merkley is implying that, in the all-important swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—which the GOP won by an aggregate of less then 80,000 votes (a hair’s breadth)—the Russian’s played a determinative role in the outcome. Wow.
Now—in the prior posts on this blog or anywhere else—I have never said what Merkley said. I have pointed out something a little different: that we need a full recount and forensic machine examination in the swing states. That’s what Jill Stein and the Green Party were trying to do. They were stopped in their tracks by the GOP, which basically said to the American people: “You’re never going to know exactly how people voted in these critical states, because we’re not going to let you hand count the vote and we’re not going to let you examine the machines.” Obviously, that’s incriminating by itself. So, Stein asked: “What is the GOP worried about?”
Well, now we know. And we know in spades. It looks like the machines in those swing states not only have the wrong count—one not reflecting the will of the People—but they have a count put there by the Russians! Holy Toledo.
(5) “…the Director of the FBI, between not briefing the DNC about the Russian hacking, and then interfering eleven days before the election.” This tells us that the FBI itself is not on the side of the People. Could anything be more scary? Isn’t this the foundation for an Orwellian future, with knocks on the door and disappearing persons?
One more note: The bottleneck where a few critical swing states can determine the Presidency exists in American politics because of the Electoral College. If it was just a straight popular vote, then Hillary would long ago have been hailed as the Chief. After all, she got almost three million more votes than Trump nationwide. A lot of the country feels left out of the real decision making, because California, New York, and other states are taken for granted. And a straight national vote would be a lot harder for Russia to h a c k. You see, there would be no “swing” states at all.
Where do we go from here?
There are now thirty-one days until the next president is inaugurated on January 20. And a lot of those days are “holiday.” Folks, time is running out. If you want democracy, we are going to have to have to raise Cain! We are going to have to demand it. The People are going to have to simply say: NO! We will not accept President Trump. We need to find out what happened on November 8. We need an accurate count of the votes. And we need—as Sen. Merkley emphasizes—a full investigation of Russia’s involvement.
Unfortunately, the country is divided. The government is divided. Many Republicans (such as Mitch McConnell) even place party before country. I personally find such an attitude unpatriotic and even obscene. But we have a large part of the country now that does not want an accurate vote count, that invites the Russian involvement because it provides the GOP the victory. But that is undemocratic and unconstitutional. It is, basically and profoundly, unamerican. And this is now our core struggle: democracy vs. tyranny. The next time you see a pickup with a Trump bumper sticker and a big American flag, you have every right to question that person’s patriotism. The flag does not erase the fact that he’s promoting an undemocratic, authoritarian, and quintessentially unamerican candidate. Despite what he may say and even think, he is not for ‘freedom’ at all. Because freedom is expressed nowhere more fully than at the ballot box.
Folks, let’s raise our voices now, and in the coming days. Share this post. Please also share my last post, “CALL TO ACTION.” Support Senator Jeff Merkley’s efforts to get a bipartisan investigation into the Russian h a c k i n g. Do not give up on an eventual hand count with forensic analysis in the swing states. And, whatever happens, continue to fight for democracy and for true freedom. Peace. —René Salm