OPINION – The president’s performance at a joint news conference in Helsinki Monday was nothing less than a national disgrace.
Speaking side-by-side with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, he stunned the free world by rebuking the United States and six of its top intelligence agencies – the CIA, FBI, National Intelligence, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. These agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to tilt the results in his favor with a state-authorized campaign of cyberattacks and fake news stories planted on social media.
We should have seen it coming. Before the meeting with Putin, the president posted on social media that “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
After the meeting he doubled down with reporters.
When asked if he believed U.S. intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to the allegations of meddling in the elections, he said, “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be. … President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
He got this from chatting with Putin alone for only two hours and decided to take the word of a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB over evidence uncovered during intense investigations by U.S. intelligence agencies that have determined otherwise.
“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in February. “Under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States. Influence operations, especially through cyber means, will remain a significant threat to U.S. interests. Russia probably will be the most capable and aggressive source of this threat in 2018.”
On Monday, Coats countered the president’s comments in Helsinki, saying “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
Whose judgment carries more water, that of a president who increasingly seems under the control of a hostile foreign power or an intelligence institution that has the manpower and means to root out this dangerous threat to the nation’s sovereignty?
The blowback to the president’s shameful performance was immediate and intense, splintering his own party.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in a statement Monday afternoon. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said. “This is shameful.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community.”
And the list goes on.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said. “Russia poses a grave threat to our national security.”
Longtime Republican stalwart Newt Gingrich also issued a statement. “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected – immediately.”
Even Orrin Hatch, the elder senator from Utah, chimed in.
“Russia interfered in the 2016 election,” Hatch said in a statement. “Our nation’s top intelligence agencies all agree on that point. From the President on down, we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy by securing future elections from foreign influence and interference, regardless of what Vladimir Putin or any other Russian operative says. I trust the good work of our intelligence and law enforcement personnel who have sworn to protect the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic.”
The most condemning comments came from former CIA Director John Brennan, who tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Yes, Republican patriots, where are you?
Last Friday, 12 Russian military officers in the Kremlin’s intelligence services were indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 election.
Republican Patriots, where are you? Why are you not demanding Putin put them on a plane to the United States?
Monday, it was announced that a Russian spy was arrested in the United States.
Republican Patriots, where are you? What will you do to censure Russia?
It is one thing to feign outrage for the news cycle soundbite, to get all puffed up and indignant for the sake of optics.
It is quite another, however, to actually do something, to take action to send a loud and clear message that this behavior is unacceptable.
This leopard has shown its spots, several times now.
We’ve seen him bestow unabashed adulation on Putin, we’ve seen him sidle up to the white nationalists with the same “both sides are to blame” irrationality he expressed about the fallout between Russia and the United States and we’ve seen him humiliate the essence of this nation by holding it up to ridicule in the world court by alienating and insulting its closest neighbors and allies.
There has been a lot of discussion about why. Despite his “America first” babbling, it is clearly obvious that Russia holds that position in his heart and mind.
I don’t think it has anything to do with alleged dalliances with Russian prostitutes or Playboy models or adult actresses.
I don’t think it has anything to do with his incoherence regarding freedom and liberty and the restrictions he has tried to impose.
I don’t think it is a lack of intellect. This president is obviously no Rhodes Scholar, but nobody can be that stupid.
My best guess is that he is in debt up to his little blond comb-over to the Russian mob.
This isn’t about patriotism, the Constitution or any of the other false flags he has hoisted. He doesn’t give a whit about any of that. All he cares about is money, winning, winning and winning and crushing his opponents, whether real or perceived.
It reminds us to remember the wise advice to always follow the money.
And in this case, that money trail will unquestionably lead to Russia.
How much it took for him to sell out his country remains to be seen, which is perhaps why he refuses to share his financial statements with the American public.
I just wish he’d take the money and run and allow the United States to return to some sort of normalcy.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.