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EDITORIALS

EDITORIAL: We deserve to know

York Dispatch

"The threat from Soviet forces, conventional and strategic, from the Soviet drive for domination, from the increase in espionage and state terror, remains great. This is reality. Closing our eyes will not make reality disappear."

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump speaks in Grand Rapids, Mich.  Trump says he’ll reduce the costs of the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, after he takes office.  The president-elect tweeted Monday that the “F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

It's been nearly 31 years since President Ronald Reagan said that during his 1986 State of the Union address.

Much has happened since then. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the fall of many Soviet-controlled states, finally the break-up of the USSR itself. Four U.S. presidents have served since Reagan. The U.S. won the Cold War and has been fighting the War on Terror for 15 years. Bosnia. Libya. Kuwait. 9-11. Afghanistan. Iraq.

And now we've come back around to something unprecedented in America: The CIA has concluded "with high confidence" that Russia tried to interfere with the U.S. presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.

President Barack Obama presented this conclusion to 12 high-ranking members of Congress in September in the hope that a bipartisan announcement of potential election interference would persuade state and local officials to take federal help to ensure voting machines weren't vulnerable to hacking, according to an article published by The Washington Post late Friday.

Top GOP leader: Senate to probe reports of Russia hacking

The Democrats agreed, but two Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, refused to go along. Obama didn't want to be seen as using intelligence information for partisan gain in the weeks before the election, so he didn't make the information public, the Post said.

So now we're in a dilemma as a country.

Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, joined together with Sens. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, Sunday to call for a bipartisan congressional investigation into the allegations.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, said the allegations combined with Trump's consideration of Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobile and recipient of the Order of Friendship decoration from Russia, "raises serious doubts about whether President-elect Trump will stand up for America’s interests.”

McConnell finally joined the call for an investigation Monday.

Meanwhile, Trump is using his characteristic bombastic style to belittle the intelligence community and throw shade and doubt onto the allegations.

Trump rejects intel, lawmakers vow probe of Russia hacking

The Associated Press reported that he tweeted Monday that "it's very hard to determine who was doing the hacking." He adds that if his campaign had lost the election and "we tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!"

We realize that the vast majority of York County voters cast their ballots for Trump, and those votes probably would have gone toward the Republican nominee no matter what.

After all, Trump won York County by 60,000 votes, a greater majority than his total Pennsylvania margin of 44,000.

But everyone — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, independent, everyone who voted in this election, every citizen of this country — should want to know that a foreign power did not interfere with the casting of ballots, an institution that is the backbone of our 240-year-old experiment in democracy.

Members of the Electoral College are calling for a briefing from the intelligence community before they meet on Dec. 19. After all, one of the reasons that group exists is to make sure there is no undue foreign influence on U.S. elections.

That's the first of several steps that need to be taken.

The country deserves to know what happened in this election, and we deserve to know as quickly as possible. Congress needs to know what happened before it certifies the vote of the Electoral College on Jan. 6. Everyone needs to know what happened before Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

If Republicans are going to call themselves the party of Lincoln and Reagan, they have to respect the memories of those men and their values.

And if Republicans are thinking about letting Russia get away with influencing a presidential election because their candidate won, we can only hope they bump into the ghost of Ronald Reagan wandering the halls of the White House and the Capitol.