The incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump has gone to absurd and extraordinary lengths to deny, deflect, and distract from Russia's role in securing Trump's victory. That effort took a frightening turn when the incoming White House press secretary wondered whether Hillary Clinton should be "punished" — for reasons that are patently absurd.

In his foolish efforts to deflect attention away from Russia’s role in getting Donald Trump elected to the presidency, White House Press Secretary-designate Sean Spicer offered the truly egregious notion that Hillary Clinton should be “punished” for ways he believes she tried “to influence the election:”

SPICER: It’s a question of getting the information. Everyone in the media wants to jump forward and make a conclusion based off other sourced information, you know, anonymous sources that are coming out of the intelligence community. He’s gonna do this right.

KARL: This is no longer anonymous, this is —

SPICER: It is —

KARL: This is a public statement.

SPICER: What this says is that the DNC had a problem with their IT security and people tried to hack it and they need to do a better job of protecting it.

KARL: The Russians succeeding in hacking —

SPICER: But the fact of the matter is, but we’re having part of a conversation. Why aren’t we talking about the influence, other influences on the election? Why aren’t we talking about Hillary Clinton getting debate questions ahead of time? That’s a pretty valid attempt to influence an election. Somebody giving her the debate questions and the answers of an election. No, no, no. It’s not “hey.” We haven’t, no one’s asking those questions. And the fact is is that everyone wants to talk, make Donald Trump admit to certain things. When are we going to start talking about the other side of this. Which is what did Hillary Clinton do to influence the election? Is she being punished in any way?

Clinton, it should be noted, was a major party nominee for the presidency of the United States, not a hostile foreign government. Influencing the election was her actual job.

Spicer is unwilling to even acknowledge Russia’s name in the title of the report he is misrepresenting here, which makes no assessment of the DNC’s relative IT security. But he is ready to mete out “punishment” to Clinton based, apparently, on the fact that she dared to campaign for the presidency.

Spicer’s comments follow an absurdity-laced exchange between Trump and reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate on New Year’s Eve, one in which he professed secret knowledge of Russia’s innocence, and proposed a cybersecurity policy based on handwritten notes and couriers. “If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier,” Trump told reporters.

The specifics of these exchanges, as absurd as they are, add up to an incoming administration that is terrifying in its willingness to ignore threats to our democracy in favor of protecting its own fragile public prestige.


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