Three possibilities concerning Russkie involvement: Yesterday morning, on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd and Reince Priebus spent eight minutes spreading gorilla dust about those alleged Russian hacks.
Tomorrow, we may try to catalog the confusion. In our view, two agents created this ball of confusion. One of them was the underprepared, under-specific Todd.
For today, we'll post a single question. What does Priebus mean when he says the RNC wasn't hacked?
Yesterday, Priebus and Todd went round and round on this and a hundred other points. Repeatedly, Priebus said the FBI has assured the RNC that the RNC "wasn't hacked."
For ourselves, we don't know if the FBI has actually said that. If the FBI has actually said that, we don't know if their judgment is right.
That said, we had a larger problem as we watched Todd and Priebus perform their circle dance. As they chased each other around, we wondered how many people were clear as to what Priebus' repeated claim actually means?
It's only a claim—but what does it mean? Does it mean that the Russians made no attempt to steal the RNC's information? Or does it mean that the Russians tried but didn't succeed?
What does Priebus' statement mean? We have no idea. Given the imprecise way the term "hacking" is used, neither does anyone else.
In our view, Priebus came out looking better than Todd in yesterday's circle dance. But what did Reince Priebus specifically mean?
Chuck Todd never asked.
What Strassel later said: Later, during the panel, the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel addressed this verbal conundrum.
We don't know if her claims are right. But this is what Strassel said:
STRASSEL (12/11/16): Look, there's two parts to this story. And I can see that this is why Reince is unhappy. The first part of this story is, Was Russia involved in hacking institutions and generally sowing discord in the election? I think everyone can agree that that happened.We don't know if that is true, but Strassel at least articulated her claim. According to Strassel, the Russkies tried to steal the RNC's information. They tried to do that, but they failed.
TODD: Not everyone is agreeing to that yet.
STRASSEL: OK, well, right. I understand. But what they are unhappy about, and legitimately so, is the piece of this story for which there is no evidence this was done to aid Donald Trump, OK?
I spoke to intelligence officials, and here is what I know. They got into the DNC site, and they actually took information and obviously distributed it. They got on the RNC system, but they weren't able to get information out.
So, the idea that this was done to help Donald Trump, that that's the evidence for this, that they didn't put RNC information out as well, so this is them in favor of Trump, that's just not the case.
Assuming the Russkies were involved, that's the most Trump-friendly account of what happened. Here are three basic possibilities:
Possibility 1: The Russians tried to steal material from both parties. They only succeeded with the Dems. (This is Strassel's account.)Possibilities 2 and 3 make it seem that the Russkies really were favoring Trump. Possibility 1 tilts in the other direction. They were trying to steal Trump's shorts, but when they tried, they failed.
Possibility 2: The Russians stole material from both parties. They only released the material they stole from the Dems.
Possibility 3: The Russians didn't even try to steal material from the RNC. They were only interested in stealing from the Dems.
We don't know what actually happened. As far as we know, the Washington Post has never said that the Russkies stole, or even tried to steal, the RNC's information. As far as we know, the Post has never even reported that the intelligence world has reached those judgments. The Post has left these points up in the air.
The New York Times has said that the Russians did steal the RNC's dope, or at least that "American intelligence agencies" have so concluded, "with high confidence." The New York Times is always wrong, but in this case, who knows?
Priebus claims the Times is wrong. After all, Comey says!