"Oh shit, here we go," we thought when we saw on Twitter early Thursday evening that the FBI was going to be making a very special statement about "election security," one that required a night-time press conference. In 2016, the James Comey Hillary Clinton email announcement happened 11 days before the election. Yesterday was 13 days before the 2020 election. Same diff.

Instead, Director of National Intelligence Clownfuck himself, John Ratcliffe came out, flanked by FBI Director Chris Wray and a couple other DOJ/FBI folks. And very little of value was said.


We'd transcribe it, except for hard NOPE.

Ratcliffe announced that IRAN (and Russia shhhhhhh) had obtained voter data and IRAN WAS USING IT FOR BAD EVIL (and Russia not so much shhhhh). Don't know where they got it, maybe they bought it from the same place the RNC buys it, considering how most of that stuff is public.

Ratcliffe said Iran was the culprit behind very weird emails Democratic voters are receiving, mostly in Florida but also in other states, that say, "You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you." The emails, which claim they "are in possession of all your information," say they're from the rightwing loser Proud Boys group, but Ratcliffe didn't mention that. Blame Iran, though! He said these emails were meant to "damage President Trump," which made zero sense unless you think A) Trump doesn't want to be associated with rightwing loser Nazis, or that B) John Ratcliffe isn't a known liar who lives in a cul-de-sac in Donald Trump's ass across the street from Lindsey Graham.

Ratcliffe said Iran is circulating some kinda video claiming nefarious things about fraudulent ballots being cast from "overseas," but you shouldn't believe the video, he said, because it is fake news. Which is interesting, considering how Attorney General Bill Barr and Donald Trump have been clowning around incessantly making up fake-ass stories about how fraudulent ballots will be sent from overseas. Indeed, the video in question actually shows Donald Trump saying things about fraudulent mail-in ballots.

So we guess the accusation here is that Iran is nefariously interfering with the US presidential election by making a video that, in part, simply highlights the US president's words, verbatim.

"This video, and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots, are not true," Ratcliffe said. "These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries."

Hate it when "desperate adversaries" make "desperate attempts" to spread misinformation about "allegedly fraudulent ballots," like a common Donald Trump.

Did John Ratcliffe accidentally just tell the truth? He's too dumb to realize what he just did, obviously, but as Greg Sargent notes at the Washington Post, he kinda just totally pissed all over Barr's and Trump's biggest lies about mail-in ballots. Whoops.

Maybe NBC News's Kristin Welker should ask Trump about that at the debate tonight, assuming Trump shows up.

After Ratcliffe was done being a pointless waste of time, FBI Director Chris Wray spoke, and he said ... nothing. Mindless pablum about trusting our elections, and an assurance that the US government is on top of whatever the hell it was that Ratcliffe just had announced. He sure didn't say any lies about how Iran's But Her Emails were meant to hurt Dear Leader.

Indeed, it was like he was only there to give Ratcliffe the Untrustworthy Trump Sycophant Moron the very thinnest patina of credibility, since Wray is one of the only Trump officials who's not actually known for lying about election threats. (And for that, and for other reasons, he is in TROUBLE with Trump, and he might get FIRED.) Meanwhile, Ratcliffe's most recent public statements have carried water for Rudy Giuliani's Kremlin-influenced bullshit op against Hunter Biden. Nobody who isn't abjectly stupid believes a word Ratcliffe says without factchecking it at least twice.

Frankly, we don't have a fucking clue why this press conference even happened, but we can be sure Ratcliffe is going to try to use it to skullfuck American democracy somehow. We just wish he'd do it without wasting our precious time at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Maybe Iran really is spoofing those Proud Boys emails, or maybe this is just Trump officials blowing smoke up reporters' asses as part of their plan to accuse Iran of tipping the scales against Trump. We still don't understand how those Proud Boys emails would "damage President Trump," any more than we did several paragraphs ago. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was briefed on all this yesterday, told Rachel Maddow last night, "From the briefing, I had the strong impression it was much rather to undermine confidence in elections and not aimed at any particular figure."

Also, per the Washington Post:

U.S. officials said privately that the operation was not terribly sophisticated and was disclosed before it could have any major impact.

Cool. Definitely worth our time when "Wheel of Fortune" is on. Also, if they figured out really fast that it was Iran, why are they fingering Iran in a public announcement 13 days before the election? That's not how counterintelligence is supposed to work.

When William Evanina, director of the Counterterrorism and Security Center, issued his warning in August about election interference, he named Russia, Iran, and China as nations that might wish to meddle in the election somehow, some way. If you read the statement, it was exceedingly clear that the only nation engaged in serious election attacks was Russia, though that didn't stop Trump and Barr — who was curiously absent from Ratcliffe's pointless announcement, shouldn't he have been up there dancing like a trained monkey too? — from lying and saying the main threats are Anybody But Russia.

The Washington Post reports that according to US officials, Russia is still the real primary threat to the election. And surprisingly enough, the Post reports in another piece today from Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg that the US government — well, the Deep State part of it, anyway — is actually working its ass off to prevent Russian attacks this year, seemingly behind Donald Trump's back.

So that's good, if true. Unfortunately, any legitimate attempts by the US government to stop the Russian attacks have to contend with our adversaries Donald Trump and his trusty pant-tucker Rudy Giuliani literally assisting the Russian attacks in real time.

How much more batshitty can it get in the next 12 days between now and the election? Hold on to your asses.

[Washington Post]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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