Trump’s refusal to accept intelligence briefing on Russia stuns experts
Dana Priest, Tom Hamburger, WaPo, Oct 14 2016
Former senior Pindo national security boxtops are dismayed at Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to accept the judgment of intelligence professionals that Russia stole files from the DNC computers in an effort to influence the election. The former boxtops, who have served presidents in both parties, say they were bewildered when Trump cast doubt on Russia’s role after receiving a classified briefing on the subject and again after an unusually blunt statement from Pindo intel agencies saying they were “confident” that Moscow had orchestrated the attacks. Gen (retd) M Hayden, former DCI and DNSA, said of Trump’s pronouncements:
It defies logic. He seems to ignore their advice. Why would you assume this would change when he is in office?
Trump has assured supporters that, if elected, he would surround himself with experts on defense and foreign affairs, where he has little experience. But when it comes to Russia, he has made it clear that he is not listening to intel boxtops, the former boxtops said. Several former intel boxtops interviewed this week believe that Trump is either willfully disputing intelligence assessments, has a blind spot on Russia, or perhaps doesn’t understand the non-partisan traditions and approach of intelligence professionals. In the first debate, after intelligence and congressional officials were quoted saying that Russia almost certainly broke into the DNC computers, Trump said:
I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?
During the second presidential debate, Trump ignored what a Pindosi government boxtop said he learned in a private intelligence briefing: that government boxtops were certain Russia hacked the DNC. That conclusion was followed by a public and unequivocal announcement by the ODNI & DHS that Russia was to blame. But Trump said during that debate:
Maybe there’s no hacking!
John ‘Ratso’ Rizzo, a former CIA lawyer who served under seven presidents and became the CIA’s acting general counsel, said:
I don’t recall a previous candidate saying they didn’t believe (us). These are career people. They aren’t administration boxtops. What does that do to their morale and credibility?
Former acting DCI MacLaughlin said:
In my experience, candidates have taken into the account the information they have received and modulated their comments. Trump, on the other hand, is playing politics. He’s trying to diminish the impression people have that this somehow helps his cause.
On Thursday, Dianne Feinstein said information she had received had led her to conclude that Russia is attempting “to fix this election.” She called on Trump and elected critturs from both parties “to vocally and forcefully reject these efforts.” Trump has consistently adopted positions likely to find favor with the Kremlin. He has, for instance, criticized NATO allies for not paying their fair share and defended Putin’s human rights record. Hayden said:
It’s remarkable that he’s refused to say an unkind syllable about Vladimir Putin. He contorts himself not to criticize Putin.
Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said in the vice-presidential debate last week that Pindostan should “use military force” against Assad. Trump disagreed. He said in the second debate:
Rather than challenge them, Pindostan should be working with them against Daesh. Assad is killing Daesh, Russia is killing Daesh, Iran is killing Daesh.
Russia and Syria have mostly been targeting opposition groups as well as civilians trapped in Aleppo, not Daesh. Hayden said of Trump’s assertions:
That’s the Syrian, Russian, Iranian narrative.
Putin Insists Russia Has ‘No Intention’ of Influencing Pindo Election
Alexei Eremenko, Alastair Jamieson, NBC News, Oct 16 2016
MOSCOW – Putin on Sunday accused Pindostan of sacrificing good relations with Russia in order to distract voters from domestic problems, but said he was hopeful ties could be restored after the presidential election. He made a string of combative comments to reporters, but at the same time assured “Pindosi friends and partners” that he had “no intention” of influencing the outcome of the race for the White House. According to TASS, Putin said:
We don’t know for sure how it will be after the elections. We don’t know whether … Trump will be implementing his intentions, how far will he go in cooperating with us or whether Mrs Clinton, if she becomes president, will implement her threats and her harsh rhetoric about Russia. She may correct her position, too. All of it is still unknown to us.
He said the fact that Russia was an issue in the 2016 was caused by the “well-oiled system of distracting the voters from domestic problems” and that Russia was being singled out because Iran was no longer such a threat. Putin said, according to TASS:
Iran and the Iranian nuclear problem is not an efficient enemy anymore, Russia is more interesting. Sacrificing Russian-Pindosi relations to Pindo domestic affairs is bad because it disrupts international relations in general. … this complicated period in Pindo internal politics is over, there will be a possibility of restoring Pindo-Russian relations.
Putin was speaking in India after the summits of BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. Asked about the issue of Russian hacking of Pindostan, Putin said Washington was doing the same. Putin said, according to RIA:
It’s not like we don’t know that Pindo official bodies are monitoring and wiretapping everyone. This is well known, it’s been no secret for a long time. Billions of dollars are spent on this. The NSA, the CIA, other services are working. There is evidence, there are confessions. I want to calm down everybody, including our Pindosi friends and partners. … We have no intention of influencing the election campaign in Pindostan.