There is simply no way to argue that the 2016 presidential election was a legitimate exercise in democratic self-government. There are too many bread crumbs leading in the same direction, somewhere north of the Vodootvodny Canal. If it wasn’t rigged, and I am entirely agnostic on that point, it was certainly vandalized to the point of uselessness, and all the vandalism was directed at one specific end: to make sure Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States. And we are now coming up on another presidential election with the 2016 election still lying on the slab, its autopsy unfinished and its cause of death not entirely determined.
Against that backdrop, Pierce directs us to an article from last year, showing that Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, owns AltPoint Capital and they have a financial interest in ByteGrid, a vendor which handles the State of Maryland voter registration database and candidate management operations. Maryland’s two Democratic senators got right on it. Roll Call:
“As the Rules Committee prepares to mark up the Secure Elections Act, we respectfully request that you sponsor an amendment requiring that an election infrastructure vendor submit a report to the Chair of the [Election Assistance Commission] and the Secretary of [the Department of Homeland Security] identifying any foreign national that directly or indirectly owns or controls the vendor, as well as any material change in ownership resulting in ownership or control by a foreign national,” Cardin and Van Hollen wrote Monday.
“We also recently asked Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin to review the acquisition of ByteGrid in his role as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” the Maryland Democrats wrote. “While we are hopeful that the Treasury Department’s review will be able to provide additional information about this specific transaction, we are concerned about the implications of this case for elections across the country.”
“Currently, CFIUS is authorized to review foreign investments in U.S. companies that result in foreign control of the company. If an investment poses a threat to national security, it can be blocked,” the senators wrote in the letter to Mnuchin. “If either AltPoint Capital or ByteGrid did not file a notice with CFIUS, the Committee has the ability to look back at any completed transaction that results in control and threatens national security and take steps to address the national security threat, including requiring divestment.”
It goes without saying that if the Russians just walk in here and buy up the firms that control our voter registration databases and other functions of our elections, that is something that sounds a note of concern; actually more of a cry of outrage and justifiably so.
Here’s a link to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the “Russian Active Measures Campaign and Interference in the 2016 Election” report and here’s Pierce’s synopsis of same.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence dropped the first of the reports stemming from its nearly three-years long investigation into the Russian “active measures” as regards the 2016 presidential election. There will be others, but this one was quite enough. There were some astounding conclusions; for example, the report indicates that Russian ratfckers were prepared to raise holy hell all over social media if Hillary Rodham Clinton had won the election. They were brewing up the hashtag, #DemocracyRIP, which certainly would have trended heavily once the American conservative media got wind of it.
The Russians also tried to embed Russian officials in polling stations around the country. And there are several references to the now-famous Sergei Kislyak, for whom Paul Manafort was carrying a bag. In truth, between the redactions and the cautious language of those parts of the report you can read, there still was enough to conclude that the American electoral infrastructure is pretty much cheesecloth that any ambitious Albanian teenager can muck with almost at a whim. The only way that this was done by a “400-pound guy sitting on his bed,” to use the president*’s famous formulation from the campaign, would be if two 200-pound guys were sitting on the same bench in Yakutsk. […]
While any one voting machine is fairly vulnerable, as has been demonstrated over and over again publicly, the ability to actually do an operation to change the outcome of an election on the scale you would need to, and do it surreptitiously, is incredibly difficult. A much more achievable goal would be to undermine confidence in the results of the electoral process, and that could be done much more effectively and easily….A logical thing would be, if your goal is to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system—which the Russians have a long goal of wanting to put themselves on the same moral plane as the United States…one way would be to cause chaos on election day. How could you start to do that? Mess with the voter registration databases.
Maybe chaos on election day is in our future. Just this week Mitch McConnell blew off two elections protections laws. Clearly, the GOP establishment is not much concerned about the accuracy and efficacy of our elections — or perhaps they’re just acting on orders from a higher authority, who knows anymore?
In any event, Donald Trump began undermining confidence in election results during the 2016 campaign. It’s obvious at this point that that was part of his grand scheme, in collusion with Mother Russia, and it semi-backfired on him when he won. As to Russia and the U.S. being on the same moral plane, yes, this entire Trump episode has dragged us down to a level of commonality and then some. America has been undermined, as intended. That goal has not only been achieved by the Russians, it has been aided and abetted, nay amplified, by the likes of Republican low-lives like Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, Doug Collins and the rest of the klown kar that emptied out and clacked in Congress just this week.
Robert Mueller sounded the alarm in no uncertain terms. The Russians are interfering with our elections, “even as we sit here.” We need to get moving.