You'll remember Dick Cheney, the vice president who helped start the Iraq War under George W. Bush. By Democrats he is still vilified for his role in the whole ordeal. But, for others, he still is seen as someone worth inviting to an international conference, like the Economic Times' Global Business Summit 2017 in New Delhi. That's where he involved himself in the most recent political crisis facing the country, Russia's interference in the November election. Cheney talked of an "act of war" on Russia's part — but he also said that President Donald Trump's win was legitimate.
Unlike Bush, who was publicly against Trump to the point he didn't vote for any presidential candidate, Cheney has spoken more favorably of the current commander in chief. That continued Monday when he spoke in India. He defended Trump in what seems like a huge contradiction:
There’s not any argument at this stage that somehow the election of President Trump was not legitimate, but there’s no question that there was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic, fundamental democratic processes. In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war.
So he believes in the effort to sway the election in Trump's favor — just not that it worked.
"Another aspect of Mr. Putin’s conduct is the issue that is now very much in the headlines at home, and that has to do with cyber warfare, cyberattack on the United States — the fact that he took his capabilities in the cyber area and used it to try to influence our election," Cheney said at the summit. Notice the word "try."
Cheney also said that Americans are reacting to the Russian interference, and that the country isn't complacent. "I would not underestimate the weight that we Americans assign to the Russian attempts to interfere with our internal political processes." But then why wouldn't Americans also question the president who was elected with said interference? Cheney's take on Trump's legitimacy just doesn't make sense.
You may see more similar attempts by Russia going forward. Cheney pointed out that Russia has tried this in Eastern Europe before. "I think it’s a kind of conduct and activity we will see going forward," Cheney said. "We know he’s attempted it previously in other states in the Baltics."
If Putin gets pro-Russian leaders elected in other countries, the only remaining question is whether Cheney will consider them legitimate too.