Monday 19 December 2016 4:00 am

Will allegations of Russian interference in the US election tarnish Donald Trump’s presidency?

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Brian Klaas, fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, and author of The Despot’s Accomplice, says Yes.

Republicans and Democrats agree that Russian hacking was used to help Donald Trump win the presidential election in November. While both Republicans and Democrats were hacked, only e-mails that would embarrass Hillary Clinton were released. Russia clearly put its finger on the scale in Trump’s favour. This will hurt the President-elect’s legitimacy in two ways.

First, it is now reasonable to question whether Trump might have lost the election without the hack. He won the electoral college only narrowly, with his victory hinging on 80,000 votes in three states (even though he lost nationally by about 2.8m). Second, his pro-Putin rhetoric and decision to nominate as secretary of state Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, who has close ties to the Russian President, will raise further questions about whether he is a stooge for the Kremlin. Both are unprecedented in modern American history.

Alex Deane, City of London common councilman, says No.

While the Bush/Gore Supreme Court litigation after the 2000 presidential election showed that an alleged lack of legitimacy in an election never quite goes away, the fanatical subset of the electorate hanging on to it is drawn from those who already hated the victor anyway.

Just as that issue was soon largely forgotten by the general public after 2000 as the presidency got underway, so will these allegations today. Indeed, evidence of problematic processes in the Florida electoral system then was more substantial than that facing Trump today, at least on present face value. So in reputational terms, the Trump presidency will simply shrug this off – as with much else said and alleged about it besides. Instead, perhaps the biggest problem is the harm that this does to the administration-to-be’s relationship with its own security service – while of interest to historians, policy wonks and inside-the-beltway politics junkies, that’s not really of headline interest to Joe Public.