Speaking at an Axios-sponsored event today in Washington DC Vice President Mike Pence engaged in some wishful thinking — or out-right lied, to give the less charitable interpretation — about the conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence agencies regarding the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
“Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election,” Pence attempted to claim.
The statement that Pence made directly contradicts the actual comments made by numerous intelligence officials and presents the story that the Trump administration, already suffering from record disapproval and smarting from the reality of their loss of the popular vote, would like you to believe.
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With reality a malleable concept in the Trump White House, facts didn’t deter the Vice President from ignoring the comments made yesterday by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who said in a congressional hearing that Russia considers their efforts as successful, and who sees the 2018 midterms as ripe for a repeat offense.
Pence also ignored the findings of the Department of Homeland Security who revealed last September that Russian government hackers targeted 21 states during the campaign and successfully infiltrated their elections systems, although they say that they could not prove that voting machines had been affected.
In fact, in a joint report on Russian electoral interference released last month by the National Intelligence Council, which coordinated information from all of the country’s intelligence agencies, said the exact opposite of what Pence claimed today.
“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.”
Without the authority to analyze political consequences, the intelligence agencies have been careful not to be drawn into the partisan firefight. The CIA was forced to rescind a statement from Trump appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo last October claiming that the Russian efforts to influence the election were fruitless, specifically stating the agency had made no such determination.
Pence was at least sensible enough to not deny that Russia attempted to influence the election.
“It doesn’t mean there weren’t efforts, and we do know there were,” Pence said. “There were efforts by Russia, and likely by other countries, to involve or influence American elections and we take that very seriously.”
“We have discussed plans going forward to ensure meddling in our elections by Russians or other powers around the world will be rebutted and that we’ll continue to develop the kind of technologies that ensure and maintain the integrity of our electoral system,” he said.
Representing an administration that can’t even get security clearances for their top aides, Pence’s assurances of electoral integrity are less than convincing. When he lies about the conclusions of our intelligence agencies in the matter, his credibility erodes even further.