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The mystery of why Trump claims the unknowable (that Russian hacking had no effect on the election outcome)

Donald Trump
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Even now, with the election won, Donald Trump regularly says things that are untrue or that he can’t know are true — and yet asserts that they are unequivocally true.

It’s difficult to plumb the bottomlessness of Donald Trump’s propensity to lie. It would be swell if he would take a minute and a few characters more than 140 to explain his peculiar theories of honesty, facticity, humility and a few other virtues that he may view as vices or, even worse, weakness.

Lying, or perhaps shading the truth in the heat of a campaign in hopes that the lie will not be exposed until after the election would be one thing, and it’s not good, but we’re fairly used to that. Yes, even as a candidate, Trump demonstrated an unprecedented predilection to disregard factual accuracy in preference for what his admirers wanted to hear. And he succeeded in demonstrating, against the expectations of many including your humble and obedient ink-stained wretch, that a candidate could win despite a well-deserved reputation for mendacity in service of self.

But even now, with the election won, he regularly says things that are untrue or that he can’t know are true — and yet asserts that they are unequivocally true.

He cannot know

The past weekend gives us an example of Trump's questionable relationship to honesty, even though in this case it amounts to several (unacknowledged) corrections of past falsehoods, coupled with a statement of something that he does not know to be true because he cannot know.

You’ve no doubt seen a fair bit over the weekend about new version of Trump’s former skepticism over whether Russian hackers were responsible for spreading information unflattering to the Hillary Clinton campaign, to a new statement that Russian hacking had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

He doesn’t know that. He can’t know that. It’s unknowable.

He’s doing a particular two-step. He’s hiding behind the finding by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia was behind the hacks (which he formerly disputed, without any basis, because, you know, what the hell) but that the hackers had failed to get into the voting machines and actually change the vote counts.

Here’s Friday’s NY Times’ coverage of a Trump statement in which he changed his former position of skepticism.

But the “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election” statement is supposed to tiptoe around the fact that the Russian hacking (which Trump formerly said might not be Russian) that was made public through Wikileaks (with Trump’s encouragement) was (U.S. intelligence has concluded) designed to harm Hillary Clinton and help Trump. 

Clinton is understandably upset about the possibility that information from these hacks caused her defeat, and she likely believes that they did, but she has not said that they did cause it, because it’s unknown and unknowable.

Intent vs. outcome

Understand, I’m not expressing an opinion about whether Russian hackers caused Trump to win and Clinton to lose. It’s fairly clear by now (but not absolutely proven) that this was the intent. The CIA has concluded that the Russian operations showed “a clear preference” for Trump. And I believe we should be extremely curious to know how the Russians might expect to benefit from a Trump presidency relative to a Clinton presidency. And the possibility that Trump will do things as president that Vladimir Putin will like better than things Clinton would have done will and should be raised as the Trump presidency develops.

I’m just saying that there is no way to clearly to know that enough voters in swing states were (or weren’t) persuaded to vote for Trump or against Clinton — or to stay home or vote for a minor-party ticket rather than vote for Clinton — because of unflattering information they learned about Clinton or John Podesta, etc., through the WikiLeaks leaks, which the CIA is now relatively certain came about via the Russian hacks.

But that, of course, is exactly why Trump cannot know that the Russian hacking had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Why say such a thing? Ego? Pride? Gratuitous obnoxiousness? An assumption that Americans are too stupid to understand the two different ways that Russian hacks might have influenced the election? I won’t guess. Trump’s character flaws are slightly less of a mystery to me than the impact said flaws have on his supporters. He has already demonstrated that he understands the benefits of certain odious behaviors in ways that I do not.

Why bother writing about such an irrelevant falsehood? Well, heck, no trees died in bringing these pixelated ruminations to your screen. But also, as I have expressed before, the Trump phenomenon has lowered the bar for the honesty we the people expect from a candidate, and perhaps that should also lower the bar for pointing out the various levels of Trumpian mendacity, in all its glory.

Here, with no expectation that he will move in this direction but just to give him a hand if he ever decides to try, is what Trump should have said on Friday and his various emissaries should have amplified over the weekend. Something like:

"The intelligence community has now briefed me on its finding and has reached a high level of certainty that that the Wikileaks hacks originated with Russian actors who were motivated to help me politically and hurt my esteemed former opponent, Hillary Clinton. I accept their findings and retract all of my previous statements of skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks.

"I also condemn Russia for this interference in our electoral process. We can never know whether it affected the outcome, and, of course, I would like to believe I would have won the election without any such illicit foreign help. But let me reassure Americans, whether you voted for me or not, that my dealings with Russia will in no way be compromised or influenced and that I will do what I can as president to tighten up U.S. defenses against any foreign influence over our electoral process in the future."

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Comments (57)

president elect

I see the Donald has replaced the dollar sign with the flag pin on his lapel.

"Why say such a thing?"

"Ego? Pride? Gratuitous obnoxiousness?" Yes to all three. Trumpism is a three-legged stool, and those are the legs. "An assumption that Americans are too stupid to understand the two different ways that Russian hacks might have influenced the election?" I honestly do not think that he has thought the issue through that far. Remember how incredibly thin-skinned he is. Any perceived challenge to his legitimacy as President must be answered as soon as possible. There is no nuance.

If Mr. Trump Said What You Proposed

that, too, would be a lie.

It seems clear that Mr. Trump's frame of reference is quite limited,...

i.e. he evaluates any and all things in the universe based on two criteria:

1) do I like and find it amusing, if so, it's good.

and

2) does it provide me with benefit - does it enrich me, make me look strong and powerful, or increase the prestige of the "Trump brand," if so it's good.

The effect that anything Trump does or doesn't do has on other people, the society and economy in general, or the planet,...

are completely outside Mr. Trump's frame of reference.

On the balance sheet of his life, as he calculates it,...

any and all considerations of things which do not directly amuse or anger Mr. Trump,...

or provide him with benefit (of the very limited types he can comprehend),...

are rendered completely invisible to him.

This includes what others regard as such standard moral and ethical considerations as,...

truth, honesty, fair play, living up to contractual obligations,...

or taking even the most minute portion of responsibility for the well being of an entire nation as its President,...

except where they might enter into the,...

Amuses Trump - Angers Trump or,...

Benefits Trump - Costs Trump columns.

What we do know...for certain!

The issue of alleged, yet unproven hacking by Russia, will be politicized by the Democrats in their unending campaign to delegitimize the election of D.T.

The election of DT cannot be

The election of DT cannot be de-legitimized, after all he won the electoral college vote and he is our President.

However, it can never be denied that Russia has long though Trump will serve their interests as a useful tool and campaigned in whatever means they could to make sure his election happened.

Just as it cannot be denied that he has a gigantic and very sensitive ego where the presentation of ideas opposite to his conception of himself (or what he wants the public to think of him) must be responded to in as harsh and dismissive manner as possible.

Eliminating the middleman of Trump, a Russian official baldly states, 'Republicans trust Putin more than the Democrats'

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/07/politics/russia-us-obama-putin-intel-pushkov/

As opposed to

His 8 year campaign to demean and delegitimize President
Obama, his nationality and his life and family.

Legitimate vs. Legitimate

It has to sting that Republicans haven't gained control of the White House with a win in the popular vote since 1980. (They have merely RETAINED it that way on occasion since then.)

That said, legitimacy in a legal sense (i.e. a win in the electoral college) is a long way from legitimacy in a moral, emotional and intellectual sense. In the latter, Trump delegitimizes himself with almost every word and move. Those who cannot see it merely have yet to realize/acknowledge that they were tricked. As the old saying goes, it is considerably easier to trick people than convince them that they have been tricked.

We can only hope that the relentlessly shallow, manipulative, and propagandistic framing (keywords: "...alleged...unproven...politicized..."), done shamelessly by those who would cling with advancing desperation to a power they do not actually possess in the hearts of their fellow citizens, will finally become tired, neutered, and banished by our communal commitment to the founding principles of our country.

But I ain't exactly holding my breath.

Selective Legitimizing

So, you would prefer that densely-populated urban areas would have a stronger voice for their concerns than those the live and work in rural areas? Remember, many of those making a living in a rural environment are very important to our nation.

Speaking of "...relentlessly shallow, manipulative, and propagandistic framing....", why are misleading headlines that gave many the impression that the election was directly hacked by the Russian government given a free pass. Those headlines are purposely sensational and much more accurately fit your claim of "shameless".

Nations are constantly participating in state-run cyber espionage, us included. That is not news.

Constant carelessness and neglect by political leaders on the cyber-front should be. Shameful indeed.

Say vs. Hear

My comment does not include any mention or implication about the relative worth of votes. I merely state that there are different types of legitimacy. Trump won one type -- the type that matters -- in the electoral college (which he won by 100,000 well-placed votes), but has yet to win the other -- which also matters -- in the hearts and minds of Americans (which he lost by 3 million votes).

As someone who was born and raised well outside of "densely-populated urban areas," you'll never find me arguing that one type of vote is more valuable than another. In fact, I'm more likely to argue that the electoral college reminds us that our "country" is actually a cooperative collection of individual states. It may seem archaic to think of it that way, but it's still a fact. The states -- not the people -- still elect the President. And if we don't like it, the onus is on us to change it.

But I would suggest that such a decision should be made based on its rational merits, and NOT based on the results it has provided. (It would be too lopsided that way.)

As for the headlines, here is a sampling of the headlines on the subject of Russian election manipulation from the New York Times (January 8 & 9):

"Trump Acknowledges Russia Role in U.S. Election Hacking-Aide"

"Kremlin Says U.S. Hacking Allegations Are 'Reminiscent of a Witch-Hunt'"

"Russian Hackers Find Ready Bullhorns in the Media"

"Congressmen Question Trump on U.S.-Russia Friendship"

"Republican Senators Urge Trump to Embrace Findings on Russia Hacking"

Perhaps what you are hearing is different from what is being said.

Back at you:

So you would have some votes count more than other votes? Remember metro areas are very important to the economic well being of our country.
You make an assumption/opinion that the headlines are misleading! Evidently you disagree with the some of the smartest intelligence people in the world. So where does your credibility come from to whisk them all away as wrong, and shame less?
Our election/democracy/valid government process was hacked/influenced by a foreign adversary, and that doesn't qualify as news? Please again proved some credibility on what then does qualify as news?

"Constant carelessness and neglect by political leaders on the cyber-front should be. Shameful indeed."

This reminds me of the rape defense: Lady the rape is your fault, if you wouldn't have worn that short skirt red dress I never would have raped you!

Rural votes have more value

According to the Electoral College, each vote cast in Wyoming is worth 3.6 as much as the same vote cast in California. 2.7 more than Minnesota. That's not exactly fair in my mind. In the US senate each republican voter has an extra 20% of voting power. (1:1.2) The balance is clearly skewed. So in such a close election you have to ask, 'Did America vote for such a radical change?' Better said: 'Do 27% of eligible voters get to turn America upside down?' It looks like they do.

Is America Upside Down?

You might want to look again.

The rural/urban argument is a bit simplistic, as California has more rural population (9-10X) than Wyoming's total population.

I would support

The thought that given a majority of voters did not prefer candidate Trump and his electoral college majority may be attributed to Russian interference, that no Supreme Court appointment be confirmed until we have a President with a clear mandate.

Watch that sentiment set of a tweet storm of epic proportion....

Putin went all out and we didn't see it coming.

The fix was in when Putin threatened nuclear war if Clinton was elected. How did he do that? First by misinformation from Russians to that effect. But Putin went further. He actually had Russians undergo survival drills as if nuclear war was imminent. And these drills were reported everywhere -- bolstering his argument that Americans had better not vote for Clinton. And it worked -- being as we are overly cautious on matters of self-preservation.
But what would Putin gain from Trump who can't get too friendly with Russia under a Republican Congress. Well, he might get friendlier, and that wouldn't hurt. But even if he doesn't, Trump is sure to alienate our friends the world over. Putin knows that a loose cannon in the Oval Office can do a lot of damage to America.

Re: alienating our friends the world over

This makes me want to brainstorm about ways for all of us to communicate directly to our friends the world over in positive ways. One would need to be somewhat careful, as I'm certainly not recommending treason, but surely it cannot be the case that the vast majority of Americans who think, speak, and act with integrity and social responsibility have been fundamentally altered or rendered mute by the behavior recounted in Eric's article and these comments. The question is whether there is a way, or multiple ways, to say, deliberately, loudly, and clearly that the fact that one specific person has been elected to the highest office in our government does not in fact mean that he speaks for all of us on everything but rather that he has received, for a limited time, certain specified authority in accordance with our political process....It feels as though our media, by amplifying every inane utterance, have disserved us at home and abroad. Surely the vastly expanded world of communications doesn't exist solely for negative purposes, does it? Or am I being naive, and is that how it happened? What is the alchemy that transforms diffuse inanities and incoherencies into large movements, and can't it also happen with diffuse wisdoms and kindnesses?

And apparently we're supposed to read his mind . . . .

Or at least his "heart", according to Kellyanne Conway:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kellyanne-conway-trump-comments_us_5...

“'Why is everything taken at face value?' she asked. 'You can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this and he’s telling you what was in his heart, you always want to go with what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.'”

Well too bad, so sad. That's pretty much the ESSENCE of politics. Why does he think politicians are generally so careful with the words they use and how they choose to use them?

Apparently nobody explained the life of a politician to him (although that's been more than abundantly clear for some time now).

He's been getting away with it so far. One can only hope that his run of luck (and lack of accountability) will run out before he's able to do too much irreversible damage.

What heart?

Nothing there but a cash register.
Where's Oz when we need him?

Most Trump supporters

will never admit that they were influenced by Russian hacking, despite that those in the best position to know, our national security agencies, strongly claim that they did. Trump's denials are not accompanied with any evidence, fitting his pattern of being dishonest about anything he doesn't want to hear.

All this one-sided bad news for Hillary happened right be election day when low information voters made up their mind. Toss in intentional Republican suppression of minority voting, equally obvious, and Trump wins.

The only questions is whether Trump played "let's make a deal" with the Russians before the election to gain their support. His payback through favorable treatment of Russians including the likely request to lift Russian sanctions for aggression against the Ukraine would suggest that a tit for tat secret agreement is in place.

Low information voters?

They actually had a lot of information.

Through the hacks voters learned the Clinton campaign wanted Trump to be the GOP nominee because the Democrats thought he'd be easier to defeat in the general election. He surprised them; perhaps he will surprise the Russians too. The voters learned journalists colluded with the Clinton campaign. They learned John Podesta fell for a phishing scam. They learned the DNC decided on the nominee but forgot to tell Bernie Sanders. They learned even some of Mrs. Clinton's own people thought a private email server was a terrible idea.

Seems:

Fair amount of folks that I know who voted for Trump made up there mind back in January of 2016, and never even contemplated the debates: Never requiring Tax returns seems like a total pass at any type of reasonable critical thinking. Trumps liar rate, also seems to demonstrate a total lack, laziness or in capacity to fact check.
http://www.politicususa.com/2016/09/25/trump-biggest-liar-political-hist...

So lets not confuse Political tactics and strategy, with true information.

Could we please dump the private server horse, long beat to death. Or feel free to ask why it was Ok for George Bush and Carl Rove to dump 22 Million e-mails on a private server in the white house, with out crucifixion? But Hillary Clinton, spends years getting crucified , can't be because she is a woman now can it?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_White_House_email_controversy

Or, is the notion to emulate Fox's "Fair and balanced" ?

There's not mystery....

He's told us many, many times that he is "very, very smart".

funny or just sad

Politicians lie? OMG thanks for the heads up. Maybe he lies more than most, or maybe the election is over and you should just get over it and move on.

Funny thing is when the Podesta and DNC emails were leaked the press barely reported on them. Now it's a different story, the media/DNC/Obama hysteria all but claims the election was stolen with zero proof that it was.

I find it hard to believe there are politicians in either party that would not have said what Trump said about the hacking. "Yah, I guess the Russians might have gotten me elected, no way to tell whatsoever but I sure am sorry". Yah, right!

The Clintons have made a career of lying and twisting facts. You don't have to look far to to verify that.

The President's reaction is the best. Podesta falls for a phishing scheme and now the President gets tough on Russia?

Barely Reported On Them?

Give me a break. The DNC e-mails were all over the news from the moment they were leaked.

"The Clintons have made a career of lying and twisting facts. You don't have to look far to to verify that," says the admirer of Donald Trump. Or is it not "lying" if a person is incapable of telling the truth?

A Career?

Well, let me see...

Bill didn't tell the truth about that incident with Ms. Lewinski,...

but can anyone give me a SINGLE instance,...

with provably accurate sourcing,...

i.e. nothing from Rush Limbaugh, weasel news, Breitbart, et al,...

the lays out any other lies from the Clintons?

And please don't forget that the Republicans in congress spent the past six years,...

feverishly and desperately investigating the "lies" Hillary Clinton told about Benghazi and her e-mail server,...

and didn't come up with anything.

When it comes to the Clinton's "lies," the past 30+ years of "conservative" character assassination means,...

that what an awful lot of "conservatives" think they KNOW,...

is completely fictitious,...

no matter how desperately they want it all to be true.

Heard of James Comey?

kind of thinking he pointed out in July that Mrs.Clinton lied about her email server and the lame stream media actually sorted of agreed for once, or Benghazi, or...I could go on and on

Kind of Thinking

This rebuts your claim that her lies did not get attention from the media, doesn't it?

not really

they aired his speech because they had to..

Had to?

Read the First Amendment.

"Had to?"

What was going to happen if they didn't?

"Had to" or not, it still got aired.

Sorry Tim:...Policy has all

Sorry Tim:

...Policy has all but vanished from the broadcast nightly network news's [CBS, NBC, ABC] election coverage. The network evening news devoted nearly three times more airtime to discussing Hillary Clinton's emails than they did to all policy issues....

http://www.politicususa.com/2016/10/26/media-spent-3-times-airtime-discu...

Note the date, this was BEFORE Comey's "breaking news" reset

That Wasn't What He Actually Said

Though, being the excellent political operative he has shown himself to be,...

by violating all previous protocols in commenting extensively on a case,...

over which no charges were going to be brought,...

and very carefully giving the impression that Ms. Clinton was guilty as sin,...

without actually saying so,...

Mr. Comey did serve a decidedly political purpose that had NOTHING to do with his proper role.

After his laptop e-mail comments just prior to the election,...

where, again, he carefully gave the impression that Ms. Clinton had been caught in a lie,...

without actually saying so,...

Mr. Comey clearly disqualified himself as an impartial source of information regarding Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Comey never actually said Hillary Clinton lied about anything,...

though he worked very hard to give the impression he was saying the opposite.

He DID, however, express doubts about how she handled sensitive information on her private e-mail server,...

while, at the same time making it clear that NONE of that information had actually been compromised,

Perhaps you'll want to try again.

Of course Putin wanted Trump

Putin would much rather deal with a weakling than a person that has a tougher stance against Russia. Putin will spend the next four years getting under Trump's skin to get him to react. Facts are totally not relevant to Trump as denial is his main response.

How easy is it to get under Trump's thin skinned exterior? You don't have to go any farther than Meryl Streeps speech last night. Trump has denied he made fun a disabled person during the campaign. It was recorded and played hundreds of time. Meryl brought up the incident, didn't even mention Trump's name. This morning Trump recognized the behavior she was talking about as his behavior, which he has denied. So if he has denied it why did he have to respond this morning with comments about Meryl? I can't imagine what world leaders will do that will get under his skin and he will respond inappropriately. I already don't feel safe in what will become our Trump world.

I Suspect Mr. Putin ALREADY has D.T.'s Number

Like "Marty McFly" who would do any stupid thing anyone else demanded of him in order to prove he wasn't "chicken,"...

(in the "Back to the Future" movies),...

Mr. Trump will do anything to avoid having made public information that might damage his public image or the value of the (Trump brand,"...

especially how wealthy he's not,...

(tax returns?)...

and will also do anything to avoid ever having it revealed,...

and having to admit,...

that he was WRONG about something.

I.E. "If you don't do this,...

(bend over backwards to be friendly and do nice things for Putin/Russia?)...

you'll be telling everyone you were WRONG."

Such people are VERY EASY to manipulate.

Putin is a master at using such glaring weaknesses against his enemies,...

and those he wishes to control.

Broader Questions

Here's what I've been wondering about, and I've only heard one reference to it in the lame stream media, which we all know is severely anti-Trump:

Given that the Russians hacked the DNC, it's a reasonable extension to think that they also hacked the RNC and Trump campaign. After all, the US spies on it's allies (and vice versa) all the time, so why wouldn't they spy on the RNC also? Hoover wanted dirt on everybody who even might become president. Who doesn't want to have embarrassing dope on a US president?

Given that that is a reasonable likelihood, it's also reasonable to extrapolate that they have embarrassing information on the RNC and Trump.

So when and how will the Russia use that information to further it's interests? And how come this is not discussed in the media (that is all things anti-Trump)?

The Media Doesn't Need to Be Anti - Trump

And it's NOT.

All the media is doing is accurately reporting what Trump is doing,...

and repeating what Trump and his apologists are saying.

The "Anti" arises in people as a natural response to that accurate reporting.

If the media were to be PRO - Trump,...

they'd have to ignore what he and his spokespersons are doing and saying,...

and just make up things that have nothing to do with reality.

DNC & RNC

In fact, it was well reported that they did hack the RNC, but did not publicize it or any information from it.

Not Quite the Same

Well reported:

"Neither federal authorities nor RNC officials reportedly were concerned, however, because the email systems in question were outdated. RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told the network that one of the emails belonged to an employee who departed from the RNC several years ago."

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/309915-report-russia-hacked-emails-...

Just today

"Top intelligence officials indicated [to the Senate intelligence committee] on Tuesday that the GOP was also a Russian hacking target but that none of the information obtained was leaked.

"FBI director James Comey told a Senate panel that there was 'penetration on the Republican side of the aisle and old Republican National Committee domains' no longer in use. Republicans have previously denied their organizations were hacked . . .

"There were frequent questions about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the hearing. Earlier on, Comey refused to comment on whether the FBI is investigating any potential connections.

" 'I would never comment on investigations,' Comey told Sen. Ron Wyden . . . "

www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/comey-republicans-hacked-russia/

Maybe they found those 22,000,000 emails the Bush administration "lost" at one of those (old) RNC domains. Probably more than one fun fact in THAT private server collection.

Lying

Trump doesn't lie because he doesn't use language to communicate meaning; he uses it as a weapon. A false statement by Trump is no more a lie than a punch in the nose. Going forward, this is going to pose difficult interesting problems who is, quite literally, indifferent to truth. Going forward, this is going to be enormously difficult not just for Americans but for the whole world in that we will have a president for whom there is no connection between what he says, and what he does. I really can't think of any precedent for this, at least among the western democracies.

A few things…

First and foremost, Trump is a child, with a child’s temperament, and a child’s response to criticism of any sort, not to mention unhappy news that in any other way might reflect negatively on him. Beyond that, he is an egregiously spoiled child, which makes all those sensitivities even more likely to be activated by almost any public comment that is not worshipful praise. His response to Meryl Streep’s brief speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night is simply one more in a long list of cases in point. Kellyanne Conway is his nanny/excuse-maker-in-chief of the moment.

"Ego? Pride? Gratuitous obnoxiousness?” Yes.

I’m also inclined to agree with RB Holbrook about the assumption that Americans are not smart enough to understand how Russian hacks might have influenced the election. I’d be surprised if Mr. Trump had actually thought that possibility through.

Given the extraordinary rudeness of the president-elect, not to mention the equally extraordinary abandonment by Congressional Republicans of long-standing political norms, and their own problems with the ability to be truthful since the election, I’d personally like to do away with the polite fiction involved in the use of the word “mendacity.”

Trump is a habitual liar. Not just the ordinary, mundane twister-of-truth that we see with depressing frequency in politics, and from both parties, but someone who makes things up out of whole cloth because their utterance either fits an artificial reality he’s constructed for himself (ipso facto evidence of mental illness), or represents the most cynical attempt in my lifetime, at least, to drag an unsophisticated public into the abyss with him. So, instead of saying “Trump is ‘mendacious,’” let’s call a spade a spade and call his untruthful statements what they are:

They are lies.

Thanks, greeat accurate description!

Couldn't have said it better myself.

"Why say such a thing? Ego? Pride? Gratuitous obnoxiousness?"

Eric,
Why indeed. But your choices hew to a media narrative that is much too kind to Trump and omits the really scary alternatives.

Isn't it just as likely Trump supports Putin over US agencies because Trump is hopelessly compromised by the Russian cash that has propped up his Trump enterprise for a decade? This is old news, detailed by the Financial Times in October:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/1/9/1618540/-Was-Donald-Trump-bailed-...

It is also possible that Trump has to do Putin's bidding or face the release of truly disqualifying info from his Kompromat file in Moscow, as first reported by Newsweek in November, and Mother Jones in October:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/veteran-spy-gave-fbi-info-al...

In other words, hugely troubling stories have never been followed up on, instead we get a piece suggesting Trump's behavior is simply evidence of a personality failing.
.

What truth has any Dem ever heard?

While Trump is surely repulsive and odious, what truth did Hillary ever tell, about Syria, Libya, Honduras, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, global trade etc? What truth ever emanated from Obama about these wars and then some, or the total security state, indefinite detention, record income inequality, banker malfeasance, etc?

Have you read the intelligence report, Eric Black? Is RT a propaganda arm of the Russian state? Was Occupy Wall Street a stooge movement by and for Russia? Good god. Can anyone distinguish bs anymore?

Seriously, Trump is a liar, and so is the whole of repub and Dem leadership, and so too FBI/CIA/NSA leadership generally. Partisan blindness about liars is just ugly, dead end hypocrisy.

A larger issue than the lying

Strip away all the debate about whether Trump is a habitual liar or a pathological liar, and you're still faced with one overarching and disturbing issue. As Eric Black stated, "...we should be extremely curious to know how the Russians might expect to benefit from a Trump presidency relative to a Clinton presidency."

When all is said and done, it's a highly logical conclusion that Putin thinks a Trump presidency will be to Russia's benefit. His widely reported dislike of Clinton would not be enough to do something to his detriment, so he see's some benefit in Trump.

Could be he expects Trump to pull back (somewhat) from NATO. Without a doubt, the existence of the once-Soviet "-stans" is a sharp stick in the Russian eye.

Or maybe he feels that Trump's proclivity to shoot from the hip will allow him to maneuver Trump into taking action, or making agreements, without thinking them through seeking advice.

Or maybe he just feels that Trump can be goaded, though compliments and insults, to take action that Putin prefers.

But whatever the rationale, I surprised that so many Republicans seem to think it's OK to give Putin a say in an American election.

Influence

I wonder how many political outcomes around the world the U.S. has "influenced".

Unknowns cannot be lies

Any shred of doubt is enough to disprove any theory. For years, the tobacco industry used the fact that some nonsmokers got lung cancer to disprove the link between smoking and cancer.

This mindset is popular enough to have been included in this stupid old hot dog commercial.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mLZHdybfI4

And:

Absolutely, no possibility that any connection to Putin could have ever been made prior to or during the election!
http://www.politifact.com/global-news/article/2016/may/02/paul-manafort-...

The Truth

The leaked emails shined a sanitary inspection lamp in some dark Clinton and DNC corners and simply revealed the truth. If the truth took down Hillary, it seems appropriate and fair. Trump is not an emailer, but rather a tweeter - he puts it out in the open for all to like it or not.

Perhaps, Hillary's Russian Reset button that was marked "overcharge" in Russian Cyrillic didn't score any points. In the photo, the Russian Foreign Minister isn't laughing with her, he is laughing at her.

Also unknowable

President Obama saved the economy the year he took office. (Because he said so doesn't pass the fact check test)

The climate change that is occurring at the present time is exclusively a man-made situation. (Feel free to show the path the next 200 years were going to take beginning 100 years ago)

What the S&P 500 Index will be 365 days from today. (Lots of people will guess but if you know you will be the richest person on earth in one year)

How many American troops will still be in Iraq and Afghanistan 4 years from now. (They were all going to be out by now weren't they?)

It would appear that Mr. Trump is not the only person in America that "knows" the unknowable.

Couple points

Do we really have to plug in all the numbers again and again and again? Unemployment down 50%, Stock market up 3X, housing foreclosures down, GNP up, yearly deficit spending down If we can't agree on definitions and statistics, its as Paul says all whack a mole.

Climate change: I'll trust the scientists long before I trust Trump! Or would you prefer Trump also do your heart surgery?

There is a difference between objectives/goals and results: Seems public companies give quarterly guidance, guess we should fire every CEO because they don't give just 1 number and hit it.

Sure seems to be a lot of accusations pointed at Obama, be nice to know where those quotes are?

All the Numbers?

Or the numbers that you have cherry picked? Chronically unemployed Americans who have given up are not counted as unemployed. They do however show up in the labor force participation rate. We have not seen LFPR numbers as low as today since the Carter Administration.

Don't take my word for it, check out this CNBC article, "Grading the Obama economy, by the numbers"

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/15/grading-the-obama-economy-by-the-numbers....

The various economic indicators are graphed for the period of each President. Whether you give the Presidents the credit or blame is up to you.

Well

The government bailed out GM and they survived. Ford wasn't bailed out by the government and they survived.

The stock market is indeed up, have you checked the national debt? Which grew faster?

I trust scientists as long as they can produce the proof (recorded temperatures for the last few centuries).

"I’m just saying that there

"I’m just saying that there is no way to clearly to know that enough voters in swing states were (or weren’t) persuaded to vote for Trump or against Clinton — or to stay home or vote for a minor-party ticket rather than vote for Clinton — because of unflattering information they learned about Clinton or John Podesta..."

We can't "know" how many people stayed home, but primary voting, polling and other data can give us a decent idea statistically what the effect of the emails was.

As I recall, Trump won the three swing states that put him over the top by a total of 80,000 votes. That's a pretty small number of people. The email nonsense turned many rabid Bernie supporters against Clinton, causing them to stay home or vote for other candidates. It also discouraged many middle of the road voters who voted for Obama, but stayed home this time around (Obama got millions more votes than Clinton).

I don't know what the numbers are, but a statistician could look at all the data and determine what the probability was that the email revelations put Trump over the top, plus or minus some error bars.

If you combine that with polling and early voting totals before and after Comey's various bogus and unethical (and likely illegal) announcements on emails appearing on Anthony Weiner's laptop, you could develop a very solid probability estimate that email problems handed Trump the election.

I'm guessing it's somewhere in the range of 90+/-5% likely that the Comey and Russians gave Clinton the loss, but again, a statistician would need to run the numbers.

The Statisticians

The statisticians have already done their work. With all the cards on the table, FiveThirtyEight 2016 Election Forecast stated that Hillary had a 71.4% chance of victory and would receive 302 EC votes.

"Our win probabilities come from simulating the election 20,000 times, which produces a distribution of possible outcomes for each state." That is a lot of number crunching.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/

If you do a web search of "Hillary Landslide", you will find an abundance of media sources making that election week prediction.

Bottom Line: Any vote that Hillary lost due to having her email (Podesta & DNC too) hacked was a vote lost when voters became acquainted with the truth. Tell me the truth isn't fair.

When Hillary spins up her election machine two years from now, my advice to her: Stick to the Twitter; stay out of the email!

Small problem

Most stuff wasn't the truth, and or was a grain of truth turned into a beach of propaganda. Sorry this guy isn't biting: 22 Million deleted E-mails by Brush and Rove on a private white house server and all pushed under the carpet, lets not talk fair! Lets not even go there, what 6-7-8 Benghazi's by a biased Republican committee and they all come back zeros, but know lots of fol;ks, including certain media still keep pushing the conspiracy theory, that she is guilty of something, other than being an intelligent woman!
Now, feel free to tell us what is that truth that we are all suppose to know other than Trump lied ~ 67% of the time, is a 5 time draft dodger,has avoided paying Federal income tax for the last 20 years, can't reveal his taxes becasue they will probably show how complicit hge is with he Russians, and enjoys (negotiating tactics) that lie to his contractors about what he is going to pay them and then screws them to the floor! Now as a Americans should we expect any change in behavior?

Not the Truth?

No one challenged the veracity of the leaked Clinton/Podesta/DNC emails. By all means, bring forth the allegations that the emails were bogus.

So you charge that the IRS (federal governsment) holds the evidence that Trump is complicit (involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing, according to google) with the Russians? How did he prevent that from being divulged before election day? That is a whopper of a conspiracy theory.

About Hacking

Anyway someone who knows well our system is involved. Why has Putin given asylum to some computer experts?