Americans looking for a powerful voice for their concerns about President-elect Donald Trump's ill-gotten electoral victory need look no further than Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who bucked the corporate media narrative by stating, without reservation, that Russia's cyberattacks did affect the outcome of the presidential election. Feinstein also pointed the finger at FBI Director James Comey's interference, and promised accountability.
President-elect Donald Trump has pushed hard to undermine the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s cyberattacks were intended to hand him the election, including the lie that there is “absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results.” And while the corporate media has pointed out that the intel community made no such assessment, they have left Russia’s obvious influence on the outcome an open question.
In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this weekend, Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) answered that question unequivocally. Responding to the controversy over Rep. John Lewis’ (D-GA) comments about Trump’s legitimacy, Feinstein echoed the substance of Lewis’ criticism: That Trump’s election was unquestionably aided by Russia’s intrusions.
Later in the interview, she also pointed the finger at the FBI, and conspicuously left the firing of FBI Director James Comey on the table (emphasis mine):
TODD: Do you have any doubt in your mind that Russia tried to interfere in the election? And then second, do you believe it altered the outcome?
FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes on both cases.
TODD: You truly — you believe — it altered the outcome.
FEINSTEIN: That’s what I believe. I’ve had all of the major classified briefings. I have been astonished at what has been a two-year effort at Russia to spearfish, to hack, to provide disinformation, propaganda, wherever it really could.
TODD: You said you believe that Russia’s interference altered the outcome of the election.
FEINSTEIN: I do. I believe that with —
TODD: So do you believe he’s a legitimately — yeah.
FEINSTEIN: Well, it’s a combination of a couple of things. I think that, and I think the F.B.I., in the October surprise — I call it an October surprise — of announcing a subsequent investigation, did have an impact. And I believe the Clinton people believe it did, too. They were polling and they were up, and all of that diminished.
TODD: All right. You brought up James Comey. Is he still fit to serve as director of the F.B.I., in your opinion?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that’s a decision to come when everybody learns much more about what drove this. I think the —
TODD: It should wait until after the inspector general’s report?
FEINSTEIN: Yeah. I think the inspector general’s report is critical in this. Because there are rumors of all kinds of conflicts within the F.B.I. that focused on the director. The director, I think, was torn. I think he did what he thought was right. In my view, it turned out very much not to be right, because the F.B.I. doesn’t announce investigations —
TODD: You’re not ready to say he should be fired yet?
FEINSTEIN: Not yet.
Feinstein’s remarks are bolstered by the fact that she has access to classified information on these matters, and her clarity is remarkable. As we have noted, Trump’s legitimacy is not a question of partisanship; it is one of morality and fidelity to American values.
As more and more disturbing information about Russia’s role in Trump’s victory comes to light, and as Comey’s FBI faces an investigation into the Bureau’s conduct during the election, it is absolutely crucial that those responsible for holding our government accountable do not shy away from these highly-charged issues. As Paul Krugman writes, questioning Trump’s legitimacy based on the merits is an “act of patriotism,” one which a growing number of Democrats are joining.