So I keep reading about all this unfolding scandal about how Trump knew about Russia interfering with the election and how Putin was directly involved, etc. It doesn't really matter and obviously isn't going to change anything given it's the kind of conspiracy **** only Republicans seem to care about but don't this time because it's their guy.
I'm not aware of the GOP ever complaining in a past elections about foreign interference in the form of leaked documents. Funding campaigns? Yes. But not this. To be honest, we've never seen something like this happen, so it's a bit odd to speak in terms of which side cares or does not care about it historically.
--but I wonder. Let's pretend for a minute that it's all true. What is there to stop Trump from just saying "yeah, it's all true, what are you going to do about it?" What can anyone do about it?
What do you mean when you say "it's all true". Let's assume that the original hacking of the documents in question was done by Russians. Let's also go a step further and assume the Russian government was behind this. Did Trump "know" that this was a likely source of the hack? Um... We all have known for like 6+ months, so that's nothing special. While nothing is 100% certain, this is the most probable answer, so one can easily say that "Trump knew", about it. But that doesn't really mean anything.
The question is whether Trump was actively involved in any of this. And the answer to that is almost certainly "no". Much ado has been made about Trump joking around about how if the Russians have the 30k deleted emails, they could do us all a favor and leak those, but aside from being a joke, it's also still failing to make notes of a very key fact. The actual hacking appears to have occurred on March 2nd 2016 (at least, that's the latest Podesta email I could find). My understanding is that other DNC documents that were leaked are even older. The odds that Trump was involved in the background somehow on this is exceedingly unlikely, and certainly the odds that the Russians did this hacking with any specific candidate in mind to help our hurt is also unlikely.
You also have to make a distinction between the leaks and the hacks. Even if we assume that the Russians were behind the hacking (and that's a good bet), that doesn't tell us how the documents got from the Russian cyber folks and into the hands of Wikileaks. It seems extremely unlikely that the Russian government would hand over documents to Wikileaks and just kinda hope that they do with it what the Russians want them to do with it. So you have a second, and even likely a third hand in this. A more likely scenario is a disgruntled Russian hacker (or just someone who works in the government and had access to the data) leaked it to Wikileaks for any of a number of possible reasons. Could just be their equivalent of Snowden or Manning. That's usually how stuff winds up in Wikileaks hands, right? Someone leaks stuff to them, pretty much always without their government or businesses knowledge much less consent.
And that also pulls in the motivation of Wikileaks. While I can assume that Assange is no friend of Clinton, that's *his* decision, not the Russians. He leaked the documents, not the Russians. So if we're to talk about which foreign party influenced our election, it should be Julian Assange, not Vladimir Putin. But one of those fits a narrative better, so that's the one all the conspiracy folks are talking about.
And that brings me to the most bizarre aspect of this. Why? Again, let's assume that the Russians hacked various Democrat party servers and obtained a ton of dirt on them, including their forerunner for president, Hillary Clinton. What would you do with that if you had it? Hand it over to a third party and let them leak it and hope for... what? Not seeing a point here. I mean, if you're a Clinton fan, you see the objective of preventing Clinton from winning, don't like it, and therefor this looks like a great mustache-twirling villain move. But what does Putin gain from this? He's got dirt on the Democrats and on Clinton. The last thing he'd want is to both lose control of that dirt by handing it to Wikileaks *and* along the way also cause Clinton to lose the election and thus lose any leverage said dirt may have had on her and her party. He's spent the time and energy obtaining this juicy info, and then just tosses it away? That makes zero sense.
A far more likely scenario is that he intended to use the information as leverage when Clinton took office. Targeting Clinton and the Democrats makes sense given that they were far and away the favorites to win the election. But he needs her to win that election for the data to have value. So no. He didn't leak it to Wikileaks. Someone else did, and likely did it to prevent the Russian government from having that kind of influence over the US president. I doubt whomever did it had any intention to help Trump, or even any care at all who the GOP candidate ended up being. Even if Clinton won anyway, the fact that Wikileaks had the documents made them valueless as leverage, so the primary objective would have been obtained.
Given that many of the documents actually also detain interactions between the Russians and the Clinton camp, it's far more likely to assume that the Russians wanted Clinton to win, but their plot was foiled, then that their plot was to get Trump in office, and they succeeded. I get that the theories love to see it the other way around, but, as with most such theories, it just kinda falls apart when you examine it.
So yeah. Everything could be true in terms of the Russians being behind the hack of data, but that still doesn't support the idea that Trump is somehow in collusion with the Russians on anything. But, if the actually was, and admitted it (or it was proven somehow), then he could be impeached for that action. Not for knowing they hacked the DNC. That's nothing. But if he's putting Russian interests ahead of the US interests? That's an impeachable offense. Of course, the evidence actually suggests that it was Clinton cozying up to the Russian government, not Trump. But let's not let facts get in the way of a good theory!
What are we going to do? Hold another election? Say the first one didn't count?
If he actually violates his oath of office, he can be impeached. But so far, nothing at all done in the election cycle, even if every single bit was true, constitutes an impeachable offense. Also, it does bear mentioning that while there's a whole ton of complaining about the fact that the data was the result of hacking, there's nothing about the data itself being false. So what we really have is people complaining because they believe that Clinton would have won the election if only she'd been able to keep the public from knowing things about her that she didn't want them to know. The degree to which people were influenced by these documents is the degree to which they disliked the picture they painted of the candidate and the people she associated with.
And that, in a nutshell, was the problem with Clinton. She suffered the public being able to see who was behind the curtain, and they didn't like what they saw. Blaming the methods by which the public got to see that is really kinda missing the point here. Are you seriously arguing that you want your politicians to be able to conceal information about themselves, that if released, would prevent them from being elected? How exactly does that work inside your head?