90 Miles From Tyranny : The Russia Hoax As Contingency Plan

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Russia Hoax As Contingency Plan

Remember, back in August, 2016, when Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were obsessively texting one another? One exchange went something like, well, exactly like this:
"[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page texted Strzok.
"No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it," Strzok responded.

Fast forward a couple of years and here we are in October, 2018, just about two years after Trump's electoral triumph, and for reasons best known to themselves Ben Rhodes and Jen Psaki have decided to reveal to New York Magazine that the Russia Hoax was a key part of the Obama Administration's -- and presumably the Clinton campaign's -- contingency plan to, well, steal an election: Obama Had a Secret Plan in Case Trump Rejected 2016 Election Results. We're all adults -- right? -- so there's no need to quibble over the meaning of words like "results." Here's what Rhodes and Psaki are saying:
The Obama White House plan, according to interviews with Rhodes and Jen Psaki, Obama’s communications director, called for congressional Republicans, former presidents, and former Cabinet-level officials including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, to try and forestall a political crisis by validating the election result. In the event that Trump tried to dispute a Clinton victory, they would affirm the result as well as the conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian interference in the election sought to favor Trump, and not Clinton. Some Republicans were already aware of Russian interference from intelligence briefings given to leaders from both parties during the chaotic months before the election. “We wanted to handle the Russia information in a way that was as bipartisan as possible,” Rhodes said. 
The existence of the postelection plan has not been previously reported. A July 2017 op-ed by Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, refers to Obama directing his staff to “prepare possible responses” to claims of Russian interference in the election. 
Psaki said the plan was one of a larger set of “red-teaming” conversations to address how the White House should respond to postelection scenarios that did not have any historical precedent. “There was recognition that we had a Democratic president who was quite popular but also divisive for a portion of the population,” she said. “For them, just having him say the election was legitimate was not going to be enough. We didn’t spend a lot of time theorizing about the worst thing that could happen — this isn’t a science-fiction movie. It was more about the country being incredibly divided and Trump’s supporters being angry. Would there be protesting? I don’t want to say violence, because we didn’t talk about that as I recall.” [emphases added]

Of course, the Obama and Clinton camps never foresaw -- or so they claim -- Trump winning the election.
Stunned crowd at Hillary's election night party

They feared a squeaker, a cliff hanger. Or, two years on, that's their story. So let's try a thought experiment of sorts. By dispensing with some of the coded language or doublespeak we come up with this more succinct version of what Rhodes and Psaki are saying:

The Obama plan called for prominent NeverTrump Republicans to try and forestall a Trump victory or -- God forbid! -- a Trump inauguration by throwing the election to Clinton based on claims -- and, no, I swear I'm not plagiarizing The Onion -- that Russia had interfered on behalf of Trump. This Russia Hoax narrative had already been floated among some NeverTrump Republicans, and they liked this "bipartisan" approach -- they would provide the cover needed for a coup. Planning had already gotten so far that Obama had directed his staff to develop an action plan for the event of a Hillary loss -- the rejection of continued Progressive rule would be "historically unprecedented (in their minds) and thus invalid.
As we know so well, in the event, Trump spoiled it all by posting an electoral landslide. The plotters had failed, in Strzok's words, to "stop it." Or had they? After all, an election is one thing, but the inauguration of a new president doesn't take place for two and a half months afterwards. Time enough to throw a whole smorgasbord of crackpot theories at Trump, and see whether any of it would stick! But the key to it all, right from the start, was the...

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