A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in D.C. this week that could force the government’s hand on the issue of Russian interference with the election.
Ryan Shapiro and Jason Leopold filed the FOIA lawsuit alleging that the CIA, the FBI, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have all failed to comply with requests to release any records they have regarding Russian interference in the presidential election.
Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter for Vice News. He has sued the government under the FOIA act numerous times. Before the story of Hillary Clinton’s private email server broke, Leopold was dogging the State Department to release the emails from her time as Secretary. He was repeatedly stonewalled, and used the FOIA to force release of the emails that hadn’t been “accidentally” destroyed.
Ryan Shapiro is a PhD student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who studies the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Some would say he has abused the act in the course of his animal rights work. Shapiro is regarded by the U.S. Department of Justice as the “most prolific” FOIA requester, and the FBI has claimed that his requests for information through the FOIA are “irreparably damaging to national security.”
The two researchers sent a request on December 14 to all of the intelligence agencies named in the suit. In their letter they asked for copies of any communication between the Electoral College members and the intelligence community, leading up to the electoral vote on Dec. 19. They wanted to see any records of Electoral College members requesting information about Trump or his campaign staff, with regards to Russia.
They also asked for any communication between the two campaigns, the RNC, the DNC, or congress, that made any mention of Russian government interference in the election.
In short, the two researchers demanded that if Russia had deliberately helped Donald Trump win the election, Americans be shown evidence.
Establishment Neocon Lindsay Graham claims that nearly all of the Senate agrees that Russia interfered, without citing any proof.
“There are 100 United States senators. … I would say that 99 percent of us believe that the Russians did this, and we’re going to do something about it,” Graham told CNN recently.
Senator Graham, a losing contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, has been regularly issuing ominous threats to Russia, and criticizing Trump’s foreign policy positions.
Graham and his long-time friend in the senate John McCain have both been vocal proponents of war, and detractors of Donald Trump. Instead of helping the GOP nominee win his tough election battle against the Hillary Clinton Machine, Graham and McCain never missed an opportunity to publicly badmouth the candidate.
It is no surprise that as he prepares to take office, they are doing everything they can to undermine the President and delegitimize his election victory.
It’s a risky move, as Trump’s popularity continues to edge upward. Those stubborn #NeverTrumpers who remain outside the circle of trust may find themselves facing the wrath of angry voters when their terms expire.
And if Trump has anything to say about it, they may be barred from government lobbying after they are given the pink slip by voters. Perhaps that is why they display such open loathing of the business mogul.
Trump has said from the beginning that he had no contact with Putin or any other representative of Russia in the run-up to the election. He has mocked allegations that he is colluding with Russia as absurd.
For Putin’s part, he too has emphatically denied any involvement with the U.S. election.
And finally we have the testimony of both Julian Assange, and leaked email bagman Craig Murray, going on record to categorically deny any Russian involvement.
The definitive last word on the “Russian hackers” allegations. https://t.co/kf8fKkrWJv
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) December 16, 2016
Wikileaks has repeatedly asserted that the DNC emails and John Podesta emails came from insider leaks, not from any foreign government hacks. In a breach of their typical security protocol they have cleared Russia by name.
Obama’s Russia sanctions: Note that the ‘hacking’ report released today:
1) Doesn’t mention WikiLeaks
2) Has the following disclaimer: pic.twitter.com/fu4QbRlcyB
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 29, 2016
If there IS evidence that Russia hacked the DNC servers, it had better be strong and specific. After all, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Perhaps this is why the intelligence community is reluctant to release anything. They know that what they have is weak and inconclusive.
There is still a small window of time left until President-Elect Trump’s position becomes official.
While most people thought that the electoral college vote on December 19th was the end of it, we actually have to wait until January 6th for congress to make it final. The founders designed the system with several fail-safes to discourage chicanery.
On that day, according to the U.S. Code, provision 15 of Chapter 1 of Title 3:
Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer.
Vice president and Senate president Joe Biden will supervise as lawmakers gather in Washington to count the Electoral College’s votes. If no challenges are raised, Biden will then declare the official winner of the election, based on who won the majority of electoral votes.
Theoretically the desperate #NeverTrumpers could try to pull off one last electoral coup by throwing enough doubt on Trump’s legitimacy to stall a Senate approval on January 6th. This is highly unlikely to happen, but within the realm of constitutional possibility.
Leopold and Shapiro don’t want to wait around forever. They included a demand in their lawsuit that departments should immediately comply. Are they trying to secure the release of embarrassing documents before Trump’s inauguration? Or will the lawsuit force Obama’s hand, and end up clearing Russia of all involvement?