Implications of a Siberian Candidate

July 24, 2017 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: Paul Pillar Tags: Donald TrumpRussiaPutinWhite HouseNational Security

Implications of a Siberian Candidate

Maintaining Attention to the Issue

A conclusion is the importance of keeping a public spotlight—while Robert Mueller and the Congressional intelligence communities do most of their work behind closed doors—on the issue of Russian interference in U.S. elections.  In the short term, this will keep the brake of public scrutiny—which is still on balance a beneficial check on this president, even if at times it discourages some useful moves—fully engaged. 

The usefulness of the public spotlight over the longer term gets back to how Moscow already has reaped most of what it could have wanted by helping to elect Trump: that is, putting into the White House someone who by his nature is doing so much to weaken the United States as a competitor for global influence.  Even if there are no quid pro quos yet to be exercised, stemming from secret relationships yet to be revealed, the main damage already was done last November.  Even if the investigations uncover no active collusion beyond Donald Junior’s meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower, the mere fact of Russian interference should be abhorrent to all Americans.  It is a blow to the integrity of American democracy.  It also, notwithstanding all the other factors that contributed to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, helped to elect someone whose destructive tendencies are affecting many things, foreign and domestic, that go beyond what even the Russians might have hoped for (except insofar as Moscow welcomes anything that weakens and divides the United States).  A goal should be to prevent anything like that from happening again.

Image: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, DC. Flickr / Gage Skidmore