Rep. Trent Franks speaks at a news conference on the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, Oct. 9, 2013. 
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GOP congressman: Russia did what ‘media should have done’

At a year-end press conference last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about the controversy surrounding his country’s alleged espionage operation into the American presidential election. Putin didn’t exactly deny his government’s role, instead arguing that if Russian officials stole American materials, it doesn’t really matter.

“[I]t’s not important who did the hacking,” Putin said. “It’s important that the information that was revealed was true.”

With this in mind, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a far-right Donald Trump ally for most of 2016, appeared on MSNBC earlier today and echoed Putin’s talking point:
“I’m all for doing what’s necessary to protect the election here, but there’s no suggestion that Russia hacked into our voting systems or anything like that. If anything, whatever they may have done, was to try to use information in a way that may have affected something that they believe was in their best interest.

“But the bottom line, if they succeeded – if Russia succeeded – in giving the American people information that was accurate, then they merely did what the media should have done.”
I get the feeling Trent Franks hasn’t thought this one through.

Maybe the congressman is confused about the basic details of the controversy. Someone – Russian agents, according to U.S. intelligence agencies – stole Democratic materials by way of a cyber-attack and released those materials in order to subvert the American political system.

We’re not talking about investigative reporting; we’re talking about a theft.

According to the Arizona Republican, so long as Russia was stealing actual materials - as opposed to, say, falsifying documents – in order to further their interests, Trent Franks, like Vladimir Putin, is satisfied with the results. In fact, the GOP lawmaker seems to believe news organizations should follow Russia’s lead – a curious defense for a serious crime.

This is a bit like saying the Washington Post should have spent less time investigating the Watergate scandal and more time breaking into the DNC headquarters in order to give the American people “information that was accurate.”

A couple of follow-up questions for the congressman:

1. If Mexico had broken into RNC computers and Paul Manafort’s email to steal materials, embarrass Republicans, and help put Hillary Clinton in the White House, would Trent Franks have a cavalier attitude about international espionage?

2. If Franks’ own system were targeted in a cyber-attack during his re-election campaign, and his foes published genuine materials stolen from his computer to help elect his opponent, would he be equally quick to declare that the “bottom line” is that the hackers gave voters “information that was accurate”?


Russia, Scandals and Trent Franks

GOP congressman: Russia did what 'media should have done'