At the start of this week, Joseph Murray II, a conservative columnist for The Hill, wrote that Democrats - particularly President Obama - were merely using "claims" of Russian hacking to delegitimize Donald Trump's upcoming occupancy of the Oval Office.
By using the term "delegitimize", Murray quite consciously is legitimizing Trump. He and his right wing friends are implying that Trump is a legitimate winner in a legitimately conducted election, and therefore the rightful and legitimate claimant to the presidency once Barack Obama's term ends.
There is no need to 'delegitimize' Trump, of course, because Murray's implication is fiction. Donald Trump does not need to be 'delegitimized', because he and his election was never legitimate to begin with.
To hunt for proof, one need not sift through any greater a body of evidence than the fact that Trump has himself questioned the legitimacy of this election - both before and after its conclusion. Before the election, Trump himself boasted that the election would be rigged. After the election, Trump demanded that millions of votes be discounted in order to falsely claim himself the winner of the popular vote, because he claimed millions of votes were cast illegally.
Our founders held that the power of our government is derived from the just consent of the governed. When a public office-holder raises doubts about even a single vote's legitimacy without the full willingness to prove such claims in a court of law, that office-holder cannot be considered to have the legitimate consent of the governed, and is therefore himself illegitimate.
Trump's own casting of doubts against millions of votes cast in his own election is but one factor that makes Donald Trump an illegitimate claimant of office.
No foreign agent can be a legitimate holder of any office in the United States, let alone that of the President. And Donald Trump is, for all intents and purposes, with or without his own knowledge, a foreign agent.
The revelations of Russian espionage, propaganda and direct influence in this year's elections are unprecedented and a true threat not just to American democracy but also to American sovereignty. We now know not only that Russia hacked both Democratic and Republican emails, releasing only Democratic ones specifically to help Donald Trump's chances, but also that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was himself directing these attacks. And as I have discussed previously, the one explanation that makes sense for Russia withholding GOP emails is that now they have a potent weapon to blackmail the next administration and Congress with.
Think, for a second, what this means. In the assessment of our intelligence community, Vladimir Putin himself ordered the hacks and controlled the release of information from those hacks. Were Hillary Clinton to have been elected, Putin's weapon would have failed, and having already gotten on the wrong side of a hypothetical Clinton administration, Putin would have nothing to use against them.
But with Trump? Not only has Trump called for Russia to hack and Putin happily obliged, having gotten his desired result, Putin is in a frightening position of being able to blackmail the incoming Trump administration, as well as their friends in the Republican Congress. Putin can use that stick to gain access to America's most vital intelligence, our top secret data, and the people who possess them. Even if one were to naively believe that Trump wouldn't be a willing puppet of Russia's (he has been thus far, categorically rejecting US intelligence in favor of Putin), one cannot avoid the real danger that Trump will not have a choice.
It would appear that the falling in line with Putin has already started on the part of Donald Trump. Trump has chosen as his Secretary of State designee an oil executive who has not only done deals with Putin but received a Russian state honor designated for foreign national, the Order of Friendship, from The Vlad himself.
This is not an administration merely being 'friendly' to a foreign nation. This is about a foreign, adversarial power directing a large scale cyber attack on our political process, selectively releasing information to achieve its electoral goals, and selectively withholding information to blackmail once its electoral goals have been reached.
Power gained and exercised in this manner was, is, and always will be illegitimate.