This isn’t about collusion; it’s about illegal and improper things done by and for the Trump side in the 2016 election.
We can start with the Russians
Even before the Robert Mueller indictment of 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian companies and even before the Director or National Intelligence published his report on Russian meddling in the election, the news was full of stories about Russians trying to influence the 2016 election by supporting Trump, to a lesser degree supporting Bernie Sanders, and disparaging Hillary Clinton. They accomplished this by creating fake social media accounts (with a large staff of Russians creating content and a software army to make it seem like their voice was much bigger). They even organized actual campaign events.
Then the Russians illegally purchased ads on Facebook. US law prevents foreigners to spend money in the US to influence a US election, but the Russians dropped $100,000 on ads.
Of all the Russians did, probably the most effective at influencing the election was poisoning the relationship between Clinton and Sanders supporters by way of hacking Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and passing them on to WikiLeaks, who leaked them on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. The DNC emails showed that the national committee had favored Clinton over Sanders, a clear violation of policy. Some outraged Sanders supporters could not bring themselves to vote for Clinton and just stayed home or voted for a third party.
Speaking of Facebook
Cambridge Analytica claimed that they had the technology to influence people’s opinions. A wealthy Republican donor paid the company, one whose directors was Trump Campaign chief Steve Bannon, $50 million to do just that; however, Cambridge Analytica lacked the data to feed into their mind-twisting process, so they fraudulently obtained detailed personal information on 50 million Facebook users, and used that data to create manipulate opinion. Facebook’s market capitalization dropped by billions of dollars after the disclosure.
Then there was Comey
How many times have you heard someone from the government say “we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation”? So exactly why did the whole country find out that the FBI had reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server? It came from FBI director James Comey in a letter to Congress just 11 days before the election. It is certainly ironic that Trump fired the one man who perhaps was responsible for winning the election for him.
And the Tweeter in Chief
Donald Trump lied a great deal during the 2016 election campaign. That’s why I added “misconduct” to the title of this story. It’s not illegal for a candidate to lie during an election campaign. Even Clinton occasionally got things wrong. But Trump lied, outrageously lied, frequently lied, gratuitously lied and somehow got elected. Various news organizations maintain long lists of Trump lies. Here’s another list.
Pointing the Finger
I’m not going to say that one of the things in this article caused Trump to win a tight election. I can’t prove that all of them together swayed the decision. What I will say is that the Republican campaign benefitted from illegality and misconduct in a way that the Democrats did not. From what is publicly known, the forces of crime and deceit were on the Republican side. The saying goes, “nice guys finish last.” I don’t think that’s ultimately true, but in the short term it can be and we saw this in 2016.