Email #227: “That’s politics!”?

On July 22, 2016, one year ago today, WikiLeaks released emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee. The DNC had contacted the FBI about the hacks in April, and U.S. intelligence was already linking them to Russia. The emails revealed that Democratic party chair Debbie Wasserman favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, and as a result Wasserman resigned two days later. The timing of the release—three days before the Democratic National Convention—was designed to damage party unity.

In response to the hacked emails, Rep. Pompeo tweeted: “Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by WikiLeaks.” Pompeo later deleted the tweet and is now serving as President Trump’s CIA Director. Donald Trump responded by encouraging Russia to hack Clinton’s emails next: “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” The FBI responded by opening an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

U.S. intelligence later concluded with high confidence that Russia had hacked not only the DNC but the Republican National Committee too. Russia had stolen similarly damaging emails by Republican officials but did not deliver them to WikiLeaks to be released publicly. Their goal was to aid Trump by harming Clinton—aid the Trump campaign accepted and encouraged.

During the previous election cycle, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney identified Russia as our “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Romney’s former adviser Stuart Stevens recently said: “The role of the Republican Party has been to tell the truth about what Russia and the Soviet Union was, not what it was pretending to be. Now some conservatives have gotten into the ‘let’s give Russia the benefit of the doubt’ business.”

Are you one of those conservatives? Do you, like the President and his supporters, want to downplay the findings of the U.S. intelligence community and continue to ignore Russia’s interference in the election?

Last week President Trump tweeted: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!”

Do you agree with the President? Are you also one of those politicians who would have gone to a meeting to receive documents stolen by Russian operatives? By saying nothing in response to the President’s tweet, your silence confirms your complicity. When our grandchildren read about these events in their American history textbooks, will they see the actions of the Trump campaign as a reflection of today’s political norms or as violations of those norms?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

One thought on “Email #227: “That’s politics!”?”

  1. Chris, Thanks for yet another post: Trump and his family and his band of bandits, doing all things unethical to get their “way”, and now the swamp filled with their like. Conservatives we have previously respected quietly going along with it. And, of course, not a peep of opposition from our very own Bob. That’s our Bob. In collusion with the whole mess.


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