Weissmann, who worked on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, argued that the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election were more damaging to democracy than the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
“The first and most important part of our work was to document what Russia had done in attacking our election,” Weissmann said of the probe.
“That’s something that everybody should be able to get behind. I analogized it to Pearl Harbor,” he continued.
“Obviously, Pearl Harbor had a loss of life, and I’m not trying to say that’s comparable, but in terms of the effect and undermining our democracy, it’s arguably much worse.”
Weissmann explained that Mueller’s investigation consisted of two main parts. One part of the probe was focused specifically on Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the electoral process, while the other part focused on establishing whether American citizens conspired with the Kremlin.
President Donald Trump, who was allegedly helped by Russia as it sought to denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton, has consistently downplayed Mueller’s findings, alleging bias and slamming the probe as an elaborate “hoax.”
The legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 victory never came into question, according to Weissmann.
“The issue is, how do we protect our democracy from foreign interference, something which the founders were very concerned about, and in the cyber age, we need to be vigilant about,” he said.
Earlier this week, in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe alleged that Clinton and her allies deliberately spread disinformation about Russian meddling to undermine Trump’s candidacy.
Weissmann, who recently released a new book, Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation, dismissed these claims as baseless.
Mueller officially finalized his work on March 24, 2019. As The New York Times reported at the time, Mueller established that neither Trump nor any member of his campaign conspired with Moscow.
A number of Trump officials have been indicted and convicted of crimes related to obstruction of justice, but no one was found guilty of coordinating with the Kremlin. Still, Mueller’s team established that Vladimir Putin’s government sought to interfere in the 2016 contest through cyber operations.
Democrats have insisted that Trump won in 2016 thanks to Putin. In an August interview, Clinton speculated that the scope of Moscow’s alleged efforts still remains unclear.
William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, recently revealed that the U.S. intelligence community believes that Putin is backing Trump’s re-election bid. They also believe Iran and China are supportive of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.