In 2016 - U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies saw some warning signs of Russian meddling in Europe and later in the United States but never fully grasped the breadth of the Kremlin’s ambitions. Top U.S. policymakers didn’t appreciate the danger.
One thing should be kept in mind here, however, and this is that the intelligence community and the foreign policy establishment are in no way synonymous with the Democratic Party. It’s not that the Democrats are trying to delegitimize the presidency. The much broader Washington superstructure is what’s at work in this, and they’re not so much trying to convince others that Trump is illegitimate as they’re convinced of it themselves. It’s not really controversial in their circles, which is why they discuss the election the way they do, as an attack on the U.S. that they were not prepared for, that they didn’t fight back against strongly enough when there was still time.
However you come down on these issues, we can see the field of battle taking form today by the competing story lines. One story line is emphasizing that the intelligence against Trump is fake, his investigators are biased and that he isn’t really so soft on Russia after all. The other story line is adding more factual pieces to their construction of a case for massive Russian interference on Trump’s behalf, reminding us that we were assaulted and that the president is not our own but essentially a puppet imposed upon us by a foreign power.
These maximalist strategies are both distorting. The American people elected Trump and even if a majority voted for his opponent, the blame for the election result cannot all be placed on Russia. Trump also has a degree of legitimacy just by virtue of being duly elected, even if certain criminal
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