The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
On the night of Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, roughly 15 Republican congressmen and party officials met in the Caucus Room, a high-end Washington, DC establishment, to begin what would be an eight-year battle against President Barack Obama and the Democratic agenda. It was this very meeting that would set the tone for the duration of President Obama's presidency and would lead unprecedented levels of obstruction, the likes of what our country had never seen. Time and time again, Republicans placed party ahead of country while simultaneously earning back representation, first by retaking the House of Representatives in 2010 and then retaking the Senate in 2014. These tactics earned the ire of Democrats and progressives but Republicans were never in the business of making friends. They simply wanted to do everything in their power to ensure that the country's first African-American president would be as unsuccessful as possible.
Including working with our enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Now, to openly work with our adversaries is outright treason. But Republicans know the power of information and, more importantly, misinformation in the 21st century. In knowing this, they began embracing a policy of deliberately undermining President Obama in an effort to weaken him and his administration. This policy became clear in 2013 when disgruntled NSA employee Edward Snowden decided to steal 1.7 million documents and distribute classified information to a trio of journalists including notorious Obama critic, Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, while he fled to Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong, Snowden came on the radar of Vladimir Putin who allowed him to meet with Russian representatives and eventually plot safe passage out of Hong Kong. Thanks to financial assistance from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in June, Snowden was able to depart Hong Kong to find refuge in Russia, accompanied by Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks journalist.
The initial release of classified information did not overtly harm President Obama so Snowden and Greenwald decided to release additional information regarding the U.S. spying on its allies such as Mexico, Great Britain, and Germany in October of 2013. This incident caused friction among the United States' allies and caused President Obama's approval rating to dip 7 points from March to October of that year. By the end of October, nearly 90% of Republicans did not trust the Obama Administration to properly handle American citizens' private information. Despite receiving no support from Republican presidential candidates in 2016, there have been no calls to have Snowden extradited for his crimes. For Republicans, it became clear that a little broadcasting of state secrets wasn't a bad thing if it made our president look bad. For a political party allegedly concerned about our national security, Republicans have had a startling lack of urgency in bringing Edward Snowden to justice.
What Republicans learned from Edward Snowden is that information can be their friend. In particular, information that makes the Democratic Party look bad. On July 22nd, Julian Assange and his team at Wikileaks intentionally intervened in the American election by releasing a batch of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee a mere two days ahead of their convention. This release caused much internal strife and forced DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to resign her position. This hack became the first in a timeline of security breaches in which Wikileaks intentionally intervened in the American election and it was recently revealed that these hacks were orchestrated by top Russian officials and the information was then given to Wikileaks through third parties. Later, Wikileaks released a new batch of DNC emails a mere two days after September 11th when Hillary Clinton was battling pneumonia and they released the third batch of emails a mere hours after Donald Trump's infamous Access Hollywood video dropped, a release that Breitbart News claimed would be the year's big "October Surprise." And, as if there was still any doubt about their true intentions, Wikileaks released one final batch of emails a mere two days before the election.
Yet Wikileaks was not acting alone. They were working on the orders of top officials at the Kremlin. The reason for this is simple: Vladimir Putin wants to restore the greatness of the Soviet Union. However, Putin is unable to do this with the current sanctions in place that have been crippling Russia's economy so he needs an American president who will not only lift the sanctions but also help to weaken NATO's ability to intervene in any potential aggressions. Because of this, Putin found a willing stooge in Donald Trump, a man idolizes Putin and what he stands for. By supporting Wikileaks' efforts, as well as using fake news to discredit Hillary Clinton and her campaign, Vladimir Putin openly intervened in the American election and did so with the full knowledge of congressional Republicans.
Yet even with this knowledge, the Republican Party remained gleefully silent. Despite the fact that our nation was being viciously attacked by cyber warfare, Republicans knew this cyber warfare benefitted them and thus they chose to put party over country by not pursuing it. In September when the Obama Administration asked for a bipartisan announcement condemning Russian interference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, citing the need to refrain from appearing partisan. McConnell and his Republican colleagues knew that the hacking was benefitting the Republican candidate and thus, they felt no need to intervene. By refusing to make an announcement, the American public was left largely in the dark about a foreign adversary intentionally trying to influence the outcome of our democratic election.
Through all this, support for these adversaries has now increased. At a time when news outlets like Newsweek are voicing the opinion that Edward Snowden should never be pardoned, there have now been calls from conservative publications to reconsider this position. This past week, Sean Hannity of Fox News visited Julian Assange to help give him credibility in Republican circles and now Donald Trump has gone so far as to cite Assange as more credible than our very own intelligence agencies. And lastly, Vladimir Putin's approval rating has been steadily increasing among Republicans, a sign that Republicans are perfectly content with him openly meddling in our election. Combined together, these three individuals have come to perfectly represent Republican values in the year 2017: they will lie, cheat, and steal in order to win and they will do so at the expense of a sitting American president. For Republicans, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Vladimir Putin are heroes for what they have done. For the rest of us, those of us who are true Americans, they are enemies who engaged in acts of war against our nation.
And Democrats need to remind the American people of this every single day.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.