(CNN)On Tuesday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was asked about the now-concluded investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and his own ties to the foreign power. Here's his response:
Jared Kushner's laughable attempt to dismiss Russian election interference
"You look at what Russia did, you know, buying some Facebook ads to try and sow dissent and do it, it's a terrible thing. But I think the investigations and all of the speculation that's happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads."
In short: No biggie!
Just "some Facebook ads" and "a couple Facebook ads."
Here's just a few facts about the depth and breadth of the Russia interference effort, courtesy of the Mueller report (and CNN's Russia expert Marshall Cohen):
* Facebook estimated that the Russian online interference campaign reached 126 million Facebook users via more than 80,000 posts made between 2015 and 2017
* "Individual IRA social media accounts attracted hundreds of thousands of followers," the Mueller report said. "For example, at the time they were deactivated by Facebook in mid-2017, the IRA's 'United Muslims of America' Facebook group had over 300,000 followers, the 'Don't Shoot Us' Facebook group had over 250,000 followers, the 'Being Patriotic' Facebook group had over 200,000 followers, and the 'Secured Borders' Facebook group had over 130,000 followers."
* Through its online presence, Russia helped organized real-world protests in America as early as 2015. Read this on that.
So on their face, Kushner claims are totally and completely ridiculous. This wasn't some 400-pound guy sitting on his parents' bed -- to borrow a phrase -- posting a few random things on Facebook. This was a well-organized and well-funded effort to influence the 2016 election by a foreign power.
And it's that last bit that makes Kushner's attempts to dismiss what happened in 2016 all the more laughable/offensive. Here's what happened: Russia, through a variety of means and strategies, sought to help Donald Trump's chances of winning and hurt Hillary Clinton's chances. Russia did so because they believed that Trump would be better for their interests.
When Kushner tries to minimize the raw numbers of what Russia did, he's not only wrong on the data but he's drastically understating a coordinated attack on the integrity of an American presidential election.
This is in keeping with the broader response to the proof of Russian interference in the election. Here's Kellyanne Conway during an appearance Sunday on "This Week" when asked about Russia interference:
"I think they [tried] to sow disinformation, discord in our democracy, and we should never allow that from any foreign government, foreign actor. They were also unsuccessful. Donald Trump won -- we didn't need WikiLeaks, we had Wisconsin."
This, of course, totally misses the point. The issue is not whether or not Trump won. The issue is that we know for certain that Russia meddled in the election. And that they -- and other foreign powers -- are already working to do the same in future elections.
THAT is the point. And when people like Kushner and Conway -- not to mention the President of the United States -- downplay what Russia sought to do, it makes it far less likely that a) the administration will put the pieces in place to counteract future interference efforts and b) the average person will understand the threat at work here.
"A couple of Facebook ads?" Come on, man.