No, Citizen’s United Did Not Help Russians Interfere in Election
Liberal writers will go to great lengths to connect dots that cannot be connected, and this entire Russia-Stole-The-Election conspiracy theory is one of their favorite places to do it. On Friday, we got an extraordinary example of this when Washington Post columnist Ronald Klain surmised that the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizen’s United case was somehow responsible for allowing Russia to meddle in the 2016 race. Perhaps to mask the fact that his argument stands in a foundation of quicksand, Klain uses the gimmicky device of demanding that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito apologize to President Barack Obama.
From the column:
During Obama’s first official State of the Union address, he criticized a Supreme Court ruling, and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., sitting in the chamber, visibly challenged the president, shaking his head in disagreement and mouthing “not true” in response. It was considered a major “controversy” at the time (in a much gentler era).
Many remember the moment, but few remember what Obama said that caused such a ruckus. Obama’s comments were about the then-recent decision in Citizens United, in which the court de-fanged an already rickety campaign finance regulation system. Obama said:
“Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limits in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
Alito’s “not true” was spoken specifically in response to Obama’s claim about the risk of foreign influence in U.S. elections.
Klain says that the guilty plea of confessed Russian mole Maria Butina combined with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russia’s social media efforts justify what Obama said about Citizen’s United and foreign interference. It is an argument he cannot back up with facts; indeed, by the end of the column he is admitting that there’s really nothing in the Citizen’s United ruling that has anything at all to do with Russia’s interference.
“Obama’s critics can claim that what happened in 2016 was not precisely what he warned about,” he writes, understating the situation.
Yes they can, because the two things are utterly unrelated. Obama was concerned that foreign governments would funnel money through American corporations. There is no evidence that this happened in 2016. Two, as Klain admits, the fact that Mueller has indicted Russian companies and actors for their fraud shows that – Citizen’s United or not – it remains illegal for foreign entities to try and influence our elections.
Klain tries to shore up his original point by whining about all the “dark money” in politics making it more difficult to determine when Russia is interfering or when they aren’t, but by this point, we’re a long way from the goalposts.
Justice Alito doesn’t owe Obama an apology, but Robert Klain may consider offering one to readers who were duped by a wildly misleading headline.