by Brent Budowsky
A significant group of electoral college electors has written to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper requesting that he provide electors crucial information about the influence of Russia on the recently concluded elections before Dec. 19, when the Electoral College makes its fateful decision about who will lead the nation. I agree and believe our Founding Fathers would agree.
Electors need to know the extent of Russian covert action intended to affect our election, whether those covert actions were intended to elect Trump, whether there was any collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign, the degree of his foreign business interests with Russia and other nations, and how Trump will eliminate the potentially catastrophic conflicts of the interests between his presidency and his business. Trump had promised to disclose his conflict of interest solution before the Electoral College vote. On Monday, he reneged on this commitment.
Greater disclosure to electors, the public and Congress before Dec. 19 are particularly important because of Trump’s praise of dictators including Russian President Vladimir Putin, his refusal to disclose tax returns and business with or loans from hostile nations, his refusal to condemn Russia’s massive bombing of civilians in Syria, the close relationship with Putin of his secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson, Trump’s attacks against the CIA, his denial of Russian attacks against our electoral system that our intelligence community strongly believes occurred, his lack of national security experience, and his refusal to accept more than a handful of daily intelligence briefings.
The Founding Fathers did not create Electoral College electors to be potted plants who simply ratify results. If this were their purpose there would have been no electors at all. Citizen electors were created as a check and balance to exercise judgment and discretion to prevent corruptions that could poison the presidency.
In Federalist Paper 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that electors should have “the information and discernment” to make the best decision about choosing our leader. Hamilton would be proud of electors today who seek information he would believe they need to exercise the discretion he believed they should apply to choosing our commander in chief.
Hamilton also wrote in Federalist 68: “Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”
George Washington, who greatly valued intelligence services, warned in his farewell address about the danger of foreign entanglements.
Alexander Hamilton and other founders would be appalled and angered by attacks against democracy in the U.S. and Europe by Russia or any foreign power. They would believe it is scandalous for any president to refuse to acknowledge that these attacks against democracy are even occurring.
The founders knew and feared that in their times there were corrupting intrigues throughout Europe by nations seeking to dominate other nations through covert subversion that must never happen in America. They created the Electoral College in part to protect America from this subversion and corruption.
Hamilton in Federalist 68 emphasized in his time, as a group of electors have now emphasized in ours, that electors should have the “information” about hostile foreign influence to exercise their “discernment” in deciding who will be America’s commander in chief.