There’s a philosophy of negotiating that the first one willing to be unreasonable will win. Donald Trump is testing that theory in this campaign, most recently by calling upon Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying “Russia, if you’re listening I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
— TRUMP WORLD (@Trump_World) July 27, 2016
While this may be a cute gambit for the short-handed Trump and make his followers chuckle in delight, it could be a violation of a number of federal and state laws.
The laws center around Computer Security and Conspiracy, such as 18 USC 1030(a)2(c) (Computer Crime), 18 USC 1028A (Aggravated Identity Theft); 18 USC 1028(a)(7) and (f) (Identity Theft and Conspiracy); and 18 USC 371 (Conspiracy).
These are felonies with potential penalties of more than twenty years in prison. In addition, it is possible that state stalking laws may also be violated.
The First Amendment offers a great deal of protection for free speech, especially political speech, but it is not unlimited. It is unknown whether a prosecution would ever be started against an active candidate for the Presidency in the middle of the campaign. Indeed, FBI Director Comey recently and notably did not bring charges against Hillary Clinton in part because she was running for president.
Former CIA Director Panetta is now weighing in, saying Trump’s loyalty to the United States is in question. The more this incident is in the public discussion, it may be more difficult to bring charges.
There are two lessons to be learned here:
1. Two potential crimes do not make a right.
2. As comedian Fred Stoller notes, “Perhaps democrats should refrain from using emails.”
Please continue reading below.
Original article begins here:
President Obama yesterday suggested that this year’s hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer and email systems was characteristic of hackers working on behalf of the Russian government.
Obama suggested that the possible motive of the hack was for Russia to help Donald Trump by influencing the American election.
Obama told NBC News, “What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems, not just government systems but private systems. He continued, “What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that — I can’t say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”
In October 2015 Trump said that he would “get along very well” with Putin and complimented the Russian leader for his intervention against ISIS in Syria.
The admiration is mutual, as Putin has been complimentary towards Trump as well.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 17, 2015
Indeed, Putin approved of Donald Trump for President, saying he would “welcome” a Trump presidency.
Did the Kremlin have the DNC servers hacked and time the release by wikileaks to give Trump an electoral advantage over Hillary?
Trump campaign officials respond that such allegations are “absurd”, even as the candidate refuses to release his tax returns, which could shed light on Trump’s rumored business dealings with Russians.
Plus, there are unmistakable changes in Trump’s policy proclamations that favor Russia. For example, the Trump campaign gutted longtime anti-Russian policies in the Republican Party platform, reversing decades of Republican policy.
No one understands international relations better than Trump! Putin called me "brilliant & talented"! Clearly this means NATO is obsolete!
— DonaId J. Trump (@realDenaldTrump) April 3, 2016
Trump has broken with America’s decades-long commitment to defend NATO countries, suggesting that he might not defend America’s NATO allies from Russian aggression unless the countries’ had paid their “fair share” of the common defense. It is, therefore, unknown how Trump might react if Russia invaded another of its former satellites unless there was a “check in the mail.” Trump also indicated a Trump administration may not object to Russia’s claims on Crimea.
— POLITICO (@politico) July 27, 2016
The speculation is enhanced as Trump has embedded into his campaign various operatives that have deep ties to the Russian leader.
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s top advisor, and a former Republican Party official has long and deep ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Manafort worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.
Trump and Manafort are not the only American politicians to explore relationships with Russia. Former President George W. Bush also had a long-running bromance with the Russian leader. What was once a warm friendship between Bush and Putin cooled after the Russian president offered shelter to national security leaker Edward Snowden.
The troubling thing is that Donald Trump’s style is most closely modeled after Vladimir Putin. Indeed, Donald Trump wants to be the boss of you.
Donald Trump is a disrupter, a bomb-thrower, an anarchist, a provocateur. He thrives on chaos. He bested 16 of the GOP’s best and brightest (such as they were) without breaking a sweat or announcing anything other than big initiatives. “Build a wall!” “Keep the Muslims out.” “Lock her up!” And he made himself essential, saying “I’m the only one who can fix our problems.”
But Trump doesn’t have the inclination, patience or the skills to govern. He reportedly offered his Vice Presidential nominees control over foreign and domestic policy.
What does that mean? He doesn’t want to govern. He wants to be your boss. My boss. This hack and release and later releases of other equally, or more damaging, information could help it come to pass.
The boss of everyone and everything. The big boss, the who makes the big decisions and then lets someone else do the work of organizing and doing. That’s the image he created in years of “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” But the best indicator of future performance is past performance.
In reality, the situation is somewhat different than in reality tv. People who’ve worked with him, people who known and have studied Donald Trump say he “swings wildly between micromanaging meddler and can’t be bothered, broad-brush, big picture thinker.” That unpredictability can work in a business organization when the unpredictable one is paying everyone’s salary. But the government is not a business and requires different management styles and skills.
Can America function with an unpredictable leader?
President Obama is on record as saying this to a journalism class in March:
“But when our elected officials and our political campaign become entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn’t matter what’s true and what’s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations.
“It threatens the values of respect and tolerance that we teach our children and that are the source of America’s strength. It frays the habits of the heart that underpin any civilized society – because how we operate is not just based on laws, it’s based on habits and customs and restraint and respect. It creates this vacuum where baseless assertions go unchallenged, and evidence is optional. And as we’re seeing, it allows hostility in one corner of our politics to infect our broader society. And that, in turn, tarnishes the American brand.”
cover photo: By Andersson18824 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons