Quick Takes: The Hackers

* If you’d like a good rundown on how the actual content of the DNC emails released by Wikileaks contain a big nothingburger, Dana Houle has the story.

There is mounting evidence that the internal Democratic National Committee emails dumped by WikiLeaks last week were stolen by hackers tied to the Russian security services. The private cyber-security firm hired by the DNC concluded that the hack was conducted by two separate Russian groups, and three additional private firms supported that conclusion. There is also strong evidence linking the DNC breach to previous intrusions at the White House, the State Department, the German parliament, and a French television network—all believed to be connected by Russian state actors. The latest breach has raised deeply troubling questions about the integrity of American elections and whether foreign agents can destabilize them.

But this is being obscured by the content of the emails themselves. Bernie Sanders’s most ardent supporters say they constitute proof that the primary system was rigged against him. The emails, however, show nothing of the sort.

* When asked to address the question of Russia’s involvement in hacking the DNC server, Julian Assange demonstrated that Wikileaks is definitely not a neutral observer in all of this. They clearly have an agenda.

Assange: We have not disclosed our source, and of course, this is a diversion that’s being pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign. That’s a meta-story. The real story is what these emails contain and they show collusion. The very top of the Democratic party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is now being forced to resign. And other people from the party, which is meant to be neutral, subverting the process in order to make sure Hillary Clinton won the campaign.

* This entire controversy is renewing interest in Donald Trump’s tax returns.

These new developments underscore the importance of an old, familiar point: now, more than ever, Donald Trump must release his tax returns. To put it differently, the press should no longer “normalize” his stonewalling on this issue…

So Donald Trump should release his tax returns because in modern times that is the basic price-of-entry in national politics…He should do it whether or not Vladimir Putin ever existed or there was any Russian hack. That would be true in any candidate’s case, but especially this one. George Will has come out and said that Trump should release his returns because of questions about his ties to “Russian oligarchs.”

With 100-plus days until the election, a nominee about whom there are graver-than-usual financial questions is saying that, unlike previous candidates, he won’t make his finances public.

* The Daily News editorial board says that even if Russia wasn’t involved in the email hacking, Donald Trump’s views about Putin are disturbing.

The prospect of a foreign power with interests often diametrically opposed to ours meddling in an American presidential election in this manner should make voters shudder.

But hack or no hack, Trump’s romantic view of Putin, a man who wants nothing more than to expand his sphere of influence and see U.S. power wane, is well-established . Trump, who has a fetish for strongmen of all stripes, has repeatedly heaped praise on the repressive, anti-democratic, expansionist Putin — a friend to regimes in Iran and Syria — calling him a man “highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

When challenged on the fact that Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” Trump replied, “At least he’s a leader.”

* Karthick Ramakrishnan has written a must-read article about the politics of the fastest growing demographic group in the country.

While the attention to Asian Americans in 2012 was long overdue, much of the commentary was short-sighted and misleading. By that year, the high level of Asian American support for Democrats should not have come as a surprise; a leftward shift had been building from one election cycle to the next. Some pundits also misread the sources of the change. In 1992, writing in The Washington Post, Stanley Karnow had claimed that Asian immigrants were more likely to identify as Republican because they valued individual responsibility and free enterprise and many of them had fled communist countries. In 2012, New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed that Asian Americans voted Democratic because they came from cultures that do not put a high value on individualism and instead approve government intervention. If cultural values can be used to explain both voting Republican and voting Democratic, they may not explain either one very well. The actions of parties and political leaders over the past two decades provide a far better explanation for the politics of Asian Americans today than do the disparate cultural traditions that immigrants have brought with them.

* Finally, tonight’s headliner at the DNC is former President Bill Clinton. While he hasn’t been dominating the campaign so far this year, here’s a reminder of that time he blew everyone away as the “explainer-in-chief.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .