This is GQ, but it will be very difficult to keep it here. All I ask is that posters give it the old college try. So, two questions:
What specifically is it alleged that the Russians did to “meddle” in the 2016 election? People say that it is undisputed that Russia meddled. What did it do exactly? Hack voting machines? Give out vodka at the polling place?
What specifically it it alleged that Trump or representatives from his campaign did to “collude” with Russia?
This is more speculative, but some of the actions receiving scrutiny include:
coincidences in timing between some of Trump’s statements and the release of documents stolen by Russia in the hacking campaign
direct communications between Roger Stone and Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks
apparent communications between Carter Page and George Papadopoulos with Russian government officials (with Papadopoulos already pleading guilty to misleading investigators) with the apparent purpose of discrediting Clinton
possible solicitation of additional Russian efforts, such as the Trump Tower meeting with senior campaign officials
questions of a quid pro quo on making changes to the Republican party platform regarding Russia
Of course, the Muller investigation going on may be looking at other matters as well, but we just have to wait for that report to come out.
Let’s say I am running for President and my secretary schedules a meeting with an official from, say, Luxembourg. The official tells me that his country supports my candidacy and thinks my opponent would be very bad for his country and would like to help in any way.
Indeed, Ultravires, here is a picture of your opponent having sex with a goat. Then he leaves. Was there any law violated? What if I release the picture? What if we go to the local watering hole and have a drink that I pay for?
They didn’t. Investigators realized early on that there was" no there there." Instead liberals have concentrated their efforts on trying to overturn the election in other ways: preaching violence, shutting down websites they came are fake news, demonizing anyone who disagreed with them as racists, fools, traitors and fascists (N Y Daily News did this repeatedly and it has cost them much of their blue collar readership), calls for impeachment, harassing Trump admi istration figures, no condemnations of the Antifa groups equipped with masks, 2’ by 4’s with nails in them to stab police horses.
In October 2016 President Obama said our election process was safe. To question his ability or truthfulness means that you are a bigot, according to the left for the last decade (not to mention misogynistic since his attorney general was a woman). The 1980s are calling, they want their foreign policy back as he told Romney in 2012.
“There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there is no evidence that has happened in the past or will happen in the future”.
This is the part that gets me. How easy marks Americans were/are to this kind of information, and the Russians knew it and exploited it to the full potential. Few read beyond the sound byte, few seek facts any more.
Based on the OP request to keep this in GQ territory, I’m ignoring Jim’s son’s post.
But another area not mentioned so far is money.
It appears that Russia funneled money to the Trump campaign thru various intermediaries, such as the NRA and Duetchsbank, for example.
That is specifically illegal under US law; I remember that a previous Presidential candidate (Al Gore?) took some heat for a Hollywood event where Japanese company executives (Sony?) attended and gave contributions.
Keeping this answer appropriate for GQ, 52 USC 30121 prohibits foreign nationals from contributing, or promising to contribute, anything of value to any campaign involved in any election. It also prohibits a person from soliciting or receiving such a contribution.
Some have questions whether a “thing of value” includes photographs or similar information. Note that title 52 contains specified exemptions from what constitutes a contribution, such as volunteering for phone banks, letting a campaign use a conference room, etc.
There’s more minutiae in how the law applies to specific situations, but I think it is fair to say that in your scenario, there would be legal concerns, not to mention the obvious counterintelligence concerns.
On the first question, look at my citation of the US Code for the specific statute.
On your second question, I’m sure there are countries that would have laws that prohibit even such a light-touch weighing in on their elections. I’m not aware of any US law that would prohibit you from posting your opinions on Facebook, however, as they would seem to enjoy total protection under the First Amendment.
I don’t think voting machines were hacked, but certainly not for lack of trying.
But there was a concerted (perhaps coordinated) effort to boost any and all of Hillary’s major opponents. Initially Sanders, then Trump, with a side of Stein. I don’t know if Hillary would have won absent that effort, but that’s kind of the point. The interference can be document, but the effect can not be quantified.
Clinton and Trump spent over 81 MILLION dollars on Facebook political ads and some Russia hackers spent around 100 THOUSAND dollars on political ads. These few Russian ads threw the whole election to Trump??? And about one third of the ads were pro Hillary! Have you seen the “ads”? If these kinds of ads actually convinced you to switch from one candidate to the other, you shouldn’t even be voting.
Many, many people were “exposed” to these Russian ads, but who really knows how many read them and were “influenced” by them. I use Facebook for my business and scroll threw well over 100 ads a day. I actually read less than 10% of them.
For nearly 40 years, I’ve been a Treasurer for political party units and political campaigns. Mostly within Minnesota, but a couple Federal campaigns.
Campaign Finance legal questions often could go either way, unless there are actual precedents. But the basic principle used by courts is: ‘Did the campaign receive something of value? Then they must report it.’
There are specific exemptions in the law for traditional campaign volunteering tasks; generally anything else must be reported.
For your specific question, if you volunteered your time & effort in writing a item on Facebook supporting a candidate or issue, here in the US that would not have to be reported as a contribution.* It’s just like writing a letter to the editor for a newspaper, or talking to friends & neighbors about a campaign.
However, if you were paid for this, or for doing it many times or on many online sites, then it IS a contribution that has to be reported. If you were paid directly by the campaign, then they must report it as a campaign expense. If you work for a communication company that does such marketing efforts, and you did it on company time, then it has to be reported as a contribution to the campaign. If the campaign paid your employer, then it must be reported as a campaign expenditure. If they didn’t, then it is an In-Kind contribution to the campaign, and they must report it. (There are of course, money thresholds for this. Small amounts don’t have to be reported. Like a candidate is speaking at a rally, and you buy her a lemonade – no reporting requirement. The minimum amount to report depends on the state or federal limits – often something like up to $20 or $50 is non-reported.)
*This applies even if the campaign organizes the effort, and gives you (and maybe several others) sample suggestions of what you should write. As long as you all are unpaid volunteers, it’s not a reportable contribution.