Sunday, January 8, 2017

Leading with Inquiry, Week 1

This week's biggest dust-up concerning our political leadership in Washington was the further clarification of Russia's meddling in our most recent presidential election.

Here a few questions I'd like to pose:

1) Why was Russia so interested in having Donald Trump win the presidential election?

The president-elect and his acolytes contended this week that any Russian meddling didn't have an impact on the results of the election. I'm not sure I agree. But even if one concedes that point, it's important to explain why the government of Russia wanted Trump to win. Is there influence that they hope to gain with a Trump White House? Do they predict a Trump administration to be more friendly to Russian interests? More gullible? Or was it merely payback to Hillary Clinton and the political party of Barack Obama.  It's debatable that Russia's meddling tipped the scales in Trump's favor. What's clear, though, is that they wanted him to be president.

2) To what extent was the Trump campaign aware of Russia's attempts to influence the election in Trump's favor?

Given the means by which the Russians set up phony websites and online personalities, it's not beyond reason to suggest someone in Mr. Trump's campaign was aware of Russia's attempts to put a thumb on the electoral scales? We would learn a great deal from knowing how many, and how far up the food chain, such in-the-know individuals were.

3) Did the director of the FBI, James Comey, consider the Russians' influence in the election when he announced that he was reopening his office's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server in October?

News that the FBI was opening an election that had been closed in the summer might have been the tipping point against Ms. Clinton this fall. The tone of the FBI director in the summer when he announced he was closing the probe didn't help Ms. Clinton either. At many points it seemed like Mr. Comey was failing to exercise caution against injecting his agency into the election. We should be concerned about the motivations of FBI officials who acted more recklessly in this election cycle than in any others in recent memory.

I leave it to people more qualified than me to find answers to these questions, and by that I mean the press. Something that sets us apart from Russia, and many other regimes, is our Constitutionally protected freedom of the press. It's up to us to support that press in its attempts to question and answer questions during this administration, an administration that seems challenged to operate in an ethical and honest way.

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