Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats wrote a new op-ed for the New York Times, expressing his concern for the future of the American democratic experiment. In his piece, the Indiana Republican, a former U.S. senator, calls for the creation of a "supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission" to oversee the 2020 election, monitoring election mechanisms, and scrutinizing those who "seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions."
Coats added, however, that our country's enemies "want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent." The warning sounded familiar for a reason.
The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, recommended, “Sitting officials and candidates should use the absolute greatest amount of restraint and caution if they are considering publicly calling the validity of an upcoming election into question. Such a grave allegation can have significant national security and electoral consequences.”
It was against this backdrop that the Department of Homeland Security issued an intelligence bulletin two weeks ago, alerting law enforcement to the fact that Russia is seeking “to undermine public trust in the electoral process.” As the Washington Post reported, Moscow is "spreading false claims that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud and susceptible to manipulation."
And then there's Donald Trump -- the beneficiary of Russia's election attack four years ago -- ignoring Coats, the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee, and echoing the Kremlin message the president's own Department of Homeland Security warned us about.
President Trump on Thursday warned that results in the November presidential election may “NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED” in his latest effort to discredit mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic and preemptively delegitimize the results of the election. In a Thursday morning tweet, Trump reiterated his baseless, tired claim that voting-by-mail leads to mass voter fraud, which he suggested will cause an inaccurate count of the results in the November election.
(Twitter added an alert to the president's misinformation, alerting the public to information on "how voting by mail is safe and secure.")
To be sure, Trump's efforts to delegitimize his own country's elections are not new. Indeed, they recently led him to encourage his followers to try to vote twice.
But the timing stands out as extraordinary: after Trump's own former, handpicked director of National Intelligence warned that the United States' enemies "want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent," the Republican president effectively took the warning as advice -- and took steps to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent.
Trump's tweet comes just days after he twice told supporters at a rally that the 2020 elections are "rigged."
Miles Taylor, a former Trump-appointed official at the Department of Homeland Security, responded to the presidential tweet, writing, "Inflammatory comments like this are a bigger threat to the integrity of the election than our worst foreign adversaries. Stop doing their job for them and start doing yours."