Jethro Gibbs, the lead character on the popular and original NCIS, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, employs a set of rules in pursuing criminal activity. Rule 39 states, There is no such thing as coincidence.
On October 26, 2017, Politico reported a statement made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a radio interview:
I don’t think they’d [voters] be influenced by ads posted by foreign governments.
For the record, VoxFairfax covered this on April 6, 2018, in an article titled How a Minority and a Propaganda Blitz Elected a President [https://voxfairfax.com/2018/04/06/how-a-minority-and-a-propaganda-blitz-elected-a-president/]
On April 23, 2019, Jared Kushner, an experienced son-in-law, was interviewed at a Time magazine symposium, where he stated that the Mueller investigation was much harsher on democracy compared with “a few Facebook ads.” There are no signs that NCIS has been assigned to the case.
The sheer sycophancy of these two individuals and their statements is breathtaking more than a year apart, not to mention the attempt to avoid the findings of the intelligence community and Mueller regarding the scope of Russian intervention in the 2016 campaign.
Trump won the electoral vote by a margin of 75 arising from a plurality of some 77,000 votes in four states (three Midwestern) while the Democratic candidate drew nearly 3 million more popular votes nationwide. Findings by the intelligence community and Mueller estimate that 126 million Americans viewed or were exposed to Russian social media ads. Thus the proportions of the electoral margin to the number of viewers to the popular vote is disturbingly convincing to conclude that the intervention was successful. If the data and proportions were not persuasive, the Mueller report (pp. 6–7) was more specific:
… on August 16, 2016, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian Intelligence. … They … discussed the status of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting Manafort had caused Internal polling data to be shared with Kilimink and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting.
While political scientists and security experts will continue to analyze the Russian intervention campaign to identify more detailed effects on actual voting, the connective tissue and dots are impossible to ignore. As some have speculated, Trump’s fear that his electoral victory suffered from influence by Russian intelligence continues to invade his comments, behavior toward Putin, and underscores his irrational attempts to obstruct the investigation into that influence.
Kushner’s and Rosenstein’s vocal duet, in this context, is laughable as a measure to diminish both the foreign intervention and the electoral outcome. But though laughable, it’s not at all a funny event. “Lord, what fools these mortals be,” Puck announces in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as the servant to the Fairy King. Voters may be fools to some, but at the ballot box they tend to be deadly serious. And, very often, voters are aware of Rule 39.