Storm clouds gathering around Trump
In an editorial published Monday China’s state-run Global Times newspaper wrotethat “in the field of diplomacy” President-elect Donald Trump is “as ignorant as a child.”
China is angered by Trump’s public dismissal of decades of established diplomatic protocols and means, made readily apparent by his phone call to the president of Taiwan, showing his disdain for a mutually agreed upon “One China” policy.
The world’s most populous nation, China’s viewpoint is also shared by numerous American intelligence officials, elected officials, and diplomatic personnel, many of whom are alarmed by the President-elect’s reaction to the Washington Post article Friday that disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency reported the government of Russia, via proxy means and hacking activity, actively worked to disrupt the American political process, sow discord, and assist in electing Trump to the the presidency.
Trump dismissed the CIA report calling the notion “ridiculous” and, “just another excuse.”
Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
He lashed out warning that the persons in the intelligence community releasing these reports were the same ones who claimed that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction, when in fact those reports were fabrications.
However, not all intelligence officials agree on the CIA’s assessment, which could could give Trump more ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment. In a series of interviews with Reuters, officials with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community told the wire service, “ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”
Reuters also noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, declined to accept the CIA’s analysis – a deductive assessment of the available intelligence – for the same reason.
Speaking to the foreign press corps, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, referred to the CIA’s report as an “absolutely unfounded, unprofessional, unqualified statement and accusation which has nothing to do with reality.”
Other Tillerson boosters: Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s official spokesperson: “He fulfills his responsibilities in a highly professional manner.” https://t.co/YUztz4xjGU
— Ken Gude (@KenGude) December 13, 2016
In sharper contrast, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during his daily press briefing Monday, “You didn’t need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyber activity. The president-elect didn’t call it into question,” he said, adding, “He certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on.”
On Capitol Hill, members from both Houses are dismayed and alarmed. “This is very serious stuff,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said regarding the reports of Russian hacking. “But for Donald Trump to summarily dismiss all of this makes no sense to me at all.”
In a joint statement, Senators Charles Shumer (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The reports should alarm every American.”
Of greater concern for one U.S. Senator speaking with NCRM who declined to be named, is Trump’s refusal to take in daily intelligence briefings. In an interview with Fox News that aired Sunday, the president-elect claimed that he doesn’t need daily security briefings because he’s “like, a smart person.” The Senator scoffed at Trump’s declaration, saying, “Perhaps the president-elect should accept more intelligence briefings, so he understands Russia’s extensive hacking capability, as well as the extensive surveillance capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies.”
The Senator then outlined a long list of reported ties between Trump’s team and Russia, noting that Congress and the public knew of those connections before the election, adding that Trump naming ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for Secretary of State dismissing concerns the Exxon chief is too cozy with the Russian President is the ultimate act of studied ignorance.
“Putin gave him [Tillerson] a pretty damn prestigious award back in 2013 (video). What kind of message does this send and not only to Trump’s critics here, what about our NATO allies and other governments?” he said. ”This goes beyond theatrics and buffoonery, no, this is damaging to national security and efforts diplomatically around the globe.”
A major consideration is the fact that even though government officials were very much aware of the hacking problem even before the election, there was not a willingness to have the issue become politicized, according to one White House source. The Senator concurred and Tuesday The New York Times noted that “a skeptical president-elect, the nation’s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.”
A senior intelligence official told NCRM that the worst aspect of the Russian debacle is Trump’s apparent naiveté regarding the importance of briefings and keeping informed.
“He just doesn’t get it. Every action he takes, every tweet he sends, every public pronouncement he makes has a direct impact on more than just foreign policies and U.S. interests. He is displaying willing effort to remain ignorant about matters than change in mere hours or even minutes – that impact not just national security but global stability.”
Famed journalist Dan Rather took the President-elect to task too, saying, “Forget talking about the Trump Administration. The question now is whether this will be a Trump Putin Administration or a Putin Trump Administration.”
“Trump can publicly diss the findings of the CIA all he wants – itself a worrying development for a President-elect seemingly allergic to intelligence briefings. But the reality is that America’s intelligence community has found solid evidence that Russia favored electing a President Trump. Tweeting in a post-fact world doesn’t change that.”
Top image Source: Gage Skidmore/Flick
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