Romney and Clinton Campaign Staff Team Up to Stop Election Fraud — by Which They Mean Russia

Collage of Matt Rhoades and Robby Mook
AP/Getty

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, Robert Mook, is teaming up with the equally unsuccessful Matt Rhoades of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid to protect the integrity of elections, it was announced Tuesday.

Their Defending Digital Democracy” (DDD) project, however, will not be focusing on fraudulent voter roles or illegal alien voting like President Donald Trump’s own Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. Instead, the project, hosted by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, will focus on the mainstream media’s favorite supposed font of election problems: Russia.

According to a press release announcing the project:

Co-led by the former campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney and experts from the national security and technology communities, including Facebook and Google, the project aims to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks.

While the official release does not mention the Russian bear, both the Washington Post and the Hill were quick to pick up on the Muscovite subtext.

“Americans across the political spectrum agree that political contests should be decided by the power of ideas, not the skill of foreign hackers,” DDD Project Director Eric Rosenbach said.

The concept of Russian hacking as the true threat to American election integrity appears to have found receptive ears among both the establishment Republican and Democratic co-leaders of the new initiative.

Rhoades was the manager of Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign when the candidate made the claim that Russia is our “number one geopolitical foe.” Romney came under withering mockery from the political left for this comment, including by President Barack Obama himself during a debate: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” Obama told Romney, “because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”

That has not stopped Mook, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the time of Romney’s comment and now Rhoades’s partner in their new venture, from seeing the profound threat from the east in the aftermath of his shocking loss to President Donald Trump in November. According to the New York Times bestseller Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, Mook and John Podesta began crafting the “Russian hacking” narrative as an explanation only one day after the embarrassing loss. According to the book:

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

Having thus grabbed hold of the Russia narrative, Mook has hardly let up on it since, his public appearances focusing almost exclusively on the “scandal” that he posits cost him the most anticipated landslide election victory in modern presidential history. Starting abruptly in January, Mook began to make dozens of tweets about Russia, comprising virtually every tweet he has made since Trump took office. Some gems include his April cry of “ultra sophisticated” Russian operations in U.S. House races and claiming the firing of FBI Director James Comey, whom Mook himself called on to resign only two months earlier, “terrifies” him:

Podesta, meanwhile, with whom Robby worked to craft the Russia narrative, similarly did not have strong reservations about “Russian meddling” when the energy company on whose board he served took millions from a Kremlin-linked company in 2011.

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