How Can We ‘Move Forward’ After an Attack on Our Democracy?

President Trump muddies the Russian election interference waters. Russian President Putin assures Trump he had nothing to do with any hacking of the American election. Both agree to “move forward.” Move forward how? Forward to attempting to end the special counsel’s probe? Forward to influencing our 2018 election? Forward to Putin helping Trump win reelection in 2020? It’s absolutely astounding that the president thinks the American people will stand for this. Then again, Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue…

As I write this, Trump has essentially moved past Putin’s denial and wants to work with him on cyber security. That’s not permitting the fox to guard the henhouse, it’s opening the gate ushering the fox in. Trump has a vested interested in dead hens.

 

 

The connections between people in Trump’s orbit and Russia continue to be unveiled. The New York Times reports that Trump’s son, Donald J. Trump, Jr., former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and presidential son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner met with a Russian attorney with strong ties to the Kremlin.

Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald J. Trump, Jr.

 

Add this meeting—which the principals involved say was about child adoption policy (really?)—to the other numerous, known contacts between Trump’s people and Putin’s people and we have a very disturbing pattern, one likely to be thoroughly investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump’s handling of his meeting with Putin at the G-20 last week looks carefully choreographed. First, he refuses to say Russia—and Russia alone—hacked the 2016 American election and it did so to help Trump.

 

He then challenges Putin on the hacking, Putin denies it, Trump doesn’t deny accepting the denial. Unbelievable. What did Trump expect Putin to say? “Yeah, Don, sorry about that hacking thing. We won’t do it again, wink, wink.”

When trump refuses to believe the unanimous conclusion of our intelligence that Russia and Russia alone attacked our nation’s democracy, he cites the intel that was used as a pretense to invade Iraq back in 2003. That’s a faulty argument for several reasons.

First, the intelligence practices looking into Russian hacking are entirely different from any on potential Middle East weapons of mass destruction as was used in Iraq. Second, the analysts are entirely different.

Most importantly, the Bush administration manipulated the available intelligence to back its policy goals. There was substantial disagreement on the whether Iraq had WMD. Yes, there was intelligence on Iraq that was dead wrong. But there were also dissenting opinions in the intelligence that warned against an invasion based on WMD. That dissension was marginalized by the Bush administration because it didn’t fit its invasion narrative.

Sunday morning, Trump tweeted:

 

 

Of course, “moving forward” helps Trump politically. There is no evidence Putin will stop the cyberattacks. In fact, Russia is likely emboldened by the lack of response by both the Obama and Trump administrations (Obama did impose sanctions and closed two Russian compounds but he should have responded more forcefully).

It is not a stretch to speculate that Putin will have his people attack the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. After all, they’ve gotten away with it to this point. And Trump has no incentive to stop it.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue…”

Your thoughts?

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