It’s official, if anyone had any doubts or hopes it would be different — the Electoral College has voted and Donald J. Trump is the duly elected president-elect of the United States of America.

This is one more time critics have said we’d see a new Donald — and we’ll see, but I doubt there is any other Donald than the one we’ve seen. At 70, you don’t change.
He will be provocative, offensive, charming, outlandish, and will try to do the things he’s said he’d do. Many of us watch with trepidation, many worry he’s the Manchurian candidate and many see him as the savior of a government that’s not been responsive to their needs. He soon gets his chance to prove who’s right and who’s wrong.

First, though, he needs to put the Russian conspiracy to rest. He should endorse President Obama’s direction to get as much information as possible into the public domain about the intelligence on Russian interference in our democracy. He also should come out in favor of a select committee in the Senate to try to get to the bottom of this. He should do all he can to get confirmation of what the Russians did or didn’t do.

No one is contesting Mr. Trump’s legitimacy to be the next president. He won. He will be sworn in January 20. Hillary Clinton lost — for a bunch of reasons ranging from the Russian cyber espionage to FBI Director Comey’s bungled handling of the investigation into her email, and most of all to her own poor campaign that ignored the very voters who had been the spine of most Democratic wins.

What is being contested is Russia’s interference in our cyber systems, interference that is unacceptable, a threat to our republic and likely an act of war. Needless to say, this is very serious stuff.

Trump should want that cleared up — did they or didn’t they — so that his presidency is not clouded by allegations of Russian interference or his alleged complicity.

For the record, I do not believe he was complicit. But I do believe our intelligence agencies that the Russians were behind the hacking and leaking of information to Wikileaks in hopes of mucking with our democracy.

For a segment of the country, Trump being dogged by that allegation for the next four years would be like, well, it would be like our current president being dogged for so long by allegations he was not born here. It is a suspicion he should not have to worry about, or have to fight against for four years.

We have some of the best intelligence capabilities in the world. Our intellegence agencies are made up of professional men and women, many of whom risk their lives for us, and whose primary responsibliity and interest is the security of our nation.

And, though they can be wrong once in a while, the President should be supportive of their abilities and findings. It’s part of what a president does — make sure the voters have confidence in our country and abilities. I can understand why Trump doesn’t feel, at the moment, he needs to have an intelligence briefing daily, though I don’t agree with him on that, but he does need to be sure we all have confience in our ingelligence community — unless he can show proof why we shouldn’t.

While the president-elect’s apparent plan to try to bring Russia more into the Western fold is admirable in some regards, President Reagan said it best when he said of the Russians, “Doveryai, no proverya” — trust but verify.”


Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog:

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