Why "Inform The Electors" Should Involve All Americans
Reports of Russian hackers' interference in the presidential election has sent shockwaves through the country, and the Electoral College has not been spared. As Politico reported, nearly one in four Democratic electors are calling for an intelligence briefing on the CIA's latest findings. And with good reason. However, what the electors are asking for is information all Americans deserve to have.
As the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on Friday, individuals with ties to the Russian government reportedly provided hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks as part of a wider operation to allegedly sway the election in Trump's favor. Those individuals also reportedly hacked RNC emails, but didn't release the information gathered from them, thus inspiring increased public scrutiny of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton rather than Republican president-elect Donald Trump.
According to their letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the 54 and counting electors' request is as follows:
The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.
Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.
The letter's signees cite best fulfilling their constitutional roles as their reason for needing a pre-Dec 19, election briefing. And they are right. As representatives of the American people, it is in all of our best interests for our electors to be as informed as possible before casting their ballots. However, Clapper and his colleagues owe it to the entire country to be transparent about what investigations are currently taking place.
As expected, Trump's team issued a statement the same day dismissing the Russian influence findings flat out and taking aim at the CIA's legitimacy with the statement, "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." Yet he, too, owes the people who voted for and against him the "conclusive disavowal" of any foreign influence who sought to sway the election in his favor that the members of the Electoral College are asking for. That said, considering Trump has yet to even release his tax returns, don't hold your breath when it comes to his conceding to the electors' demands.
Many of the members of the Electoral College are everyday citizens tasked with a great civic duty. However, they were all of us on Election Day when we voted to determine their votes. Americans' civic duties don't start and end on Nov. 8. Rather, they are ongoing and require not only an effort to stay informed but, on the part of those in power, the responsibility to inform the public. Electoral College members aren't elected officials with high level national security clearances, so why shouldn't the information provided to them in an intelligence briefing be made available to the American public?
Dec. 19 is approaching quickly, and as #InformtheElectors spreads and as more Democratic electors add their names to the letter, pressure mounts on Clapper to release more substantive information on current investigations into foreign influence on U.S. elections. The electors' demands are necessary actions to maintaining faith in our democratic process. But it should involve informing all of the over 325 million Americans of what is really going on, not just 538.
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