The prediction last week from filmmaker Mr. Michael Moore that the Electoral College wouldn’t vote for the Republican presidential-elect appears less far-fetched now that nearly a dozen electors are, prior to their December 19th vote, demanding an intelligence briefing about ongoing investigations into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, the country identified by the C.I.A as having interfered in America’s most recent contentious election with the intent of ensuring the victory of the seemingly pro-Russia, populist candidate.
Drawing their conclusion from a mountain of circumstantial evidence – evidence that the New York Times says was, in part, made available to President Barack Obama weeks before Election Day – the C.I.A appears certain in their assertion, yet Mr. Trump, who is rumored to be selecting for Secretary of State a businessman with ties to Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin – is less than confident in the agency’s analysis.
“I don’t believe it,” Mr. Trump said Sunday morning on Fox News. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse.”
The refusal by Mr. Trump, who believes people are unwilling to come to terms with his victory and thus will explore all options to prevent his inauguration, to except the conclusion by the American intelligence community was recognized in a letter from the electors to Mr. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence.
“Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College,” the letter read in part.
The letter had 10 signatories, none of which were Mr. Bill Clinton, who’s an elector from New York and who some might expect to be advocating still for the election of his wife, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote by more than two million. While the Clintons have been relatively silent on this issue, Republicans haven’t.
Senator John McCain, who on Sunday morning said it’s clear that the Russians interfered in the election but stopped short of saying that the interference was intended to tip the scale towards Mr. Trump, wants a bipartisan investigation into the matter.
“Facts are stubborn thing,” said the Arizona Senator, who reiterated that the question of whether the Russians interfered in the election has been answered in the affirmative and isn’t up for debate.
Republican Senator Mr. Lindsey Graham has also expressed concerns about Russia’s involvement in American politics and is attempting to frame the issue as one that’s bipartisan.
“Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdiction lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks,” read part of a statement released by Mr. Graham and others, including Senate Democratic Leader Mr. Chuck Schumer and Senator Mr. Jack Reed, the top Armed Services Committee Democrat.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, whose wife was picked by Mr. Trump to serve as Transportation Secretary, backs the bipartisan effort for an investigation, though a news report from earlier in the year suggest he viewed any public effort by the White House to challenge Russia’s involvement in the election as partisan politics.
“The Russians are not our friends,” Sen. McConnell said this week.
Only one Republican elector signed onto the letter, which asked for temporary security clearance to perform a review of the evidence, and which also notified Mr. Clapper that the electors would also require “conclusive evidence” from Mr. Trump that “he and his staff did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.”
The F.B.I differs from the C.I.A in the sense they haven’t concluded that Russia’s hack was specifically designed to elect Mr. Trump. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump and his relationships are now coming under great scrutiny, and there, indeed, remains a chance – particularly given all the other unpredictable happenings throughout this election – that the seemingly pro-Russia, populist candidate may not become President of the United States of America after all.
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