On the eve of the president’s meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Germany, there is ample reason to believe that Donald Trump will not confront him on interfering with the 2016 election. At this point one can’t help but speculate about his reluctance to do so, especially that he still has not completely acknowledged what multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed and his fellow party members have accepted as fact: Russia hacked Democratic campaign accounts and state balloting systems in an attempt to tilt the election toward the man who ended up in office. On Thursday in Poland, he once again refused to state categorically that Russia was involved. Grant that winners by virtue of their winning might not feel compelled to examine too closely the validity of a tally in their favor. But it’s hard to imagine a Bill Clinton or a George H. W. Bush, presented with similarly convincing evidence that a foreign power meddled with the franchise, being so childishly dismissive of it—to say nothing of a Barack Obama or, given that the power in question is Russia, a Ronald Reagan. While sidestepping the main issue, the president even managed to criticize his predecessor, on foreign soil, for doing nothing about Russia’s interference—the interference that didn’t happen, that is.
But there is good news on safeguarding the electoral process, albeit in another form and from other quarters: forty-five states in the past week have publicly declined to fully aid the misleadingly named Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in its dubious mission to root out voting fraud. The president, resistant as he is to proof of Russian meddling, is obsessed with the daft notion that the three million Americans who tagged him with a clear popular-vote defeat either voted illegally or were not “real” voters in the first place, a delusion eagerly fed by a cadre of like-minded kindlers led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He and Vice President Mike Pence head the commission, which given the paucity of actual cases of fraud seems intended instead to nationalize the kind of voter-suppression efforts that Kansas and other states have undertaken since Barack Obama’s 2008 election and the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby decision on the Voting Rights Act. (Commonweal has detailed those efforts here, and criticized the commission here.)