The unprecedented nature of Russia’s attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn’t be. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took direct aim at the integrity of American democracy, and yet after almost five months in office, the commander in chief appears unconcerned with that threat to our national security. The only aspect of the Russia story that attracts his attention is the threat it poses to the perceived legitimacy of his electoral win.
If not for the continuing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians — and whether Mr. Trump himself has obstructed that investigation — the president’s indifference would be front-page news.
Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.
Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the Nov. 8 vote.
It’s a global threat, and serious people treat it that way. In December, President Barack Obama responded by punishing Mr. Putin with a new round of sanctions, expelling dozens of suspected Russian intelligence operatives and barring access to estates they used for intelligence activities. On June 14, the Senate voted 97 to 2 to block Mr. Trump from lifting those sanctions unilaterally. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans accept the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interfered with the election.
Yet Mr. Trump has been dismissive at best. As a candidate, he encouraged Russian hackers to find thousands of emails that he said Mrs. Clinton had illegally deleted. His response as president-elect to the reports that Russia had attempted to swing the election in his favor was to challenge the intelligence community’s credibility and say it was time “to move on.”
Even after taking office, he has remained skeptical. In a phone call with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, he “questioned the veracity” of the finding of Russian interference, according to The Wall Street Journal.
When James Comey, the former F.B.I. director whom Mr. Trump fired in May, was asked during his Senate testimony this month whether President Trump had ever inquired about the interference campaign itself — as opposed to how the investigation into it might affect him personally — he said, “No.”
In other words, to the extent that Mr. Trump countenances the idea of a Russian attack, he seems to regard it as all about HIM. The “obsession” with it, he claims, is driven by Democrats upset over losing an election they expected to win.
This is demonstrably false. It also ignores the true threat. As Mr. Comey said of the attack: “It’s not a Republican thing or Democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They’re going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of. And they’re not devoted to either, in my experience. They’re just about their own advantage. And they will be back.”
Even if the investigations find no evidence that Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians, the president’s refusal to accept the truth about this attack on our democracy denies reality and leaves the country vulnerable to more damaging attacks. The true obsession is Mr. Trump’s, with his own brand, and it’s distracting him from his most important duty — to protect the nation.
The FBI is actively investigating ties between the president’s campaign and a hostile foreign power. Ditto for his former national security adviser. The FBI director has been fired for refusing to kill the investigation. The attorney general has recused himself. The deputy attorney general has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is busily hiring experts in money laundering. A few days ago Mueller widened the scope of his inquiry to include a criminal investigation of the president. Bipartisan congressional committees are holding hearings. The president himself has lawyered up, and now the vice president has lawyered up too.
This would not be completely unprecedented if it happened in 2022, six years into Trump’s presidency. But it’s happened in Trump’s first five months. And while we’re all busy gaping at the spectacle of the whole thing, Republicans are trying to take health coverage away from millions of people so they can use the money to fund tax cuts for the rich.
This. Is. Not. Normal. It is nowhere close to normal.
Who the fuck listens to Kissenger or Mearsheimer?
Why did Twimp hire Manafort to lead his campaign in the first place? Because of the great job he did wiith Yanakovich? Of was it because of Manafort’s ability to get Twimp Russian loans when he needed them? So, what’s the first thing Manafort does? He sends his goons to the RNC and gets them to change just one line in their platform. A line that had “unanimous” support before his goons got there. “The US will supply the Ukrainian government with necessary “defensive” lethal weapons”… He changed it to “supply Ukraine with “necessary” assistance”… I’m sure that made Putin VERY HAPPY.
Why “lawyer up” if you have nothing to hide?
Vice President Pence has hired outside legal counsel to help with both congressional committee inquiries and the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. The vice president’s office said Thursday that Pence has retained Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based lawyer and chairman of McGuire Woods who previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.