Lest we forget we have sitting in the Oval Office a Russian puppet, information that broke this week in the Washington Post should serve as a stark reminder.
In the days leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration, members of his inner circle beseeched him to publicly acknowledge what 17 U.S. intelligence agencies and former President Barack Obama had already confirmed—Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and influenced the outcome that was about to make Trump president.
On January 6, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Director James Comey delivered their dire conclusion to the President-elect.
Campaign advisers that reportedly included Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and future chief of staff, Reince Priebus, decided to hold a meeting at Trump Tower to persuade Trump to validate the foreign influence in a way that would still not diminish his electoral victory.
They argued it was the only way to publicly dismiss the matter so Trump could pursue closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon taking office.
But it did not go well.
Trump reportedly became agitated, and carried on about how the intelligence couldn’t be trusted. He scoffed at the suggestion anything other than his own strategy, message, and charisma fueled his political victory.
When Trump was told his incoming cabinet members supported the intelligence report, Trump shot back, “So what?”
Admitting the Kremlin hacked Democratic Party emails, he claimed, was a “trap.”
January 11, Trump came closest to admitting the truth when he told journalists in the Trump Tower lobby:
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. We also get hacked by other countries and other people.”
Afterward, he admitted to aides he had erred in saying that:
“It’s not me. It wasn’t right.”
Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump has never held a Cabinet-level meeting regarding Russian interference or what to do about it in the future, leaving us vulnerable to future attacks.
Lower levels National Security Council (NSC) officials have addressed it, though, and acknowledge there is implicit understanding that to broach the matter would offend the president.
In the past year, the administration has relaxed sanctions on Russia the Obama administration imposed for election interference.
Trump’s administration has considered returning two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York President Obama seized after receiving confirmation Russia meddled in the election.
Trump also opposed congressional measures to impose additional sanctions, but reluctantly accepted.
Today, Trump officials defend the president’s neglect, insisting Trump’s policies are actually harsher than Obama’s.
A senior administration official said:
“Our approach is that we don’t irritate Russia, we deter Russia. The last administration had it exactly backwards.”
Another senior official said:
“The president obviously feels . . . that the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladimir Putin is pretty insulting. Our first order in dealing with Russia is trying to counter a lot of the destabilizing activity that Russia engages in.”
CIA director under President George W. Bush, Michael Hayden, characterizes the Russian interference as the political equivalent of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks.
In an interview, Hayden said:
“What the president [Obama] has to say is, ‘We know the Russians did it, they know they did it, I know they did it, and we will not rest until we learn everything there is to know about how and do everything possible to prevent it from happening again’. [Trump] has never said anything close to that and will never say anything close to that.”
Image credit: bbc.com