unwise to undermine his own legitimacy

Trump acknowledges Russia role in Pindo election hacking: aide
Toni Clarke, Dustin Volz, Reuters, Jan 8 2017

Preince Riebus, Pres-elect Donald Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said on Sunday that Trump believes Russia was behind the intrusions into the DNC + Podesta, that he accepts the Pindo intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia engaged in cyber-attacks during the Pindo presidential election, and (that he) may take action in response. Priebus did not clarify whether Trump agreed that the hacks were directed personally by Putin. Priebus said on Fox News Sunday:

He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue.

It was the first acknowledgment from a senior member of Trump’s team that he has accepted that Russia directed the hacking and subsequent disclosure of DNC + Podesta emails during the 2016 presidential election. Trump had rebuffed allegations that Russia was behind the hacks or was trying to help him win, saying the intrusions could have been carried out by China or a 400 lb hacker on his bed. With less than two weeks until his Jan 20 inauguration, Trump has come under increasing pressure from fellow Republicans to accept intelligence community findings on Russian hacking and other attempts by Moscow to influence the Nov 8 election. A crucial test of Republican support for Trump comes this week with the first confirmation hearings for his Cabinet picks. A Pindo intelligence report last week said Putin directed a sophisticated influence campaign including cyber-attacks to denigrate Hillary Clinton and support Trump. The report, commissioned by Obama in December, concluded vote tallies were not affected by Russian interference, but did not assess whether it influenced the outcome of the vote in other ways. After receiving a briefing on Friday from leaders of the Pindointelligence agencies, Trump did not refer specifically to Russia’s role in the presidential campaign. In a statement, he acknowledged:

Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber-infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee.

Trump spox S Spicer told Reuters the president-elect’s conclusions remained the same and that Priebus’ comments were in line with Friday’s statement. Priebus’ wording did not appear to foreshadow the dramatic reversal of Trump’s apparent Russia policy that experts say would be required to deter further cyber attacks. A so-called ‘intelligence expert on Russia’ said:

It will take a lot more than what we heard on television today to make Putin cool it. In fact, there may not be anything that can deter Putin from pursuing a course he’s bet his future and Russia’s on. Putin’s multifaceted campaign of cyber-attacks, espionage, propaganda, financial leverage, fake news and traditional espionage (sic – RB) has escalated here in Pindostan since the election, and it will be a shock if it does not escalate in France, Germany and elsewhere this year.

Priebus, the former RNC chairman Trump tapped as White House chief of staff, said Trump planned to order the intelligence community to make recommendations as to what should be done. Action may be taken, he said, adding there was nothing wrong with trying to have a good relationship with Russia and other countries. Two senior Republican senators urged Trump to punish Russia in response to the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Putin personally directed efforts aimed at influencing the election. Appearing on NBC Meet the Press, the Two Amigos, Lindsey Graham and Walnuts McCain said that the evidence was conclusive that Putin sought to influence the election, a point that Trump has refuted. Graham said:

In a couple weeks, Donald Trump will be the defender of the free world and democracy. You should let everybody know in Pindostan, Republicans and Democrats, that you’re going to make Russia pay a price for trying to interfere.

On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter that having a better relationship with Russia was a good thing. Rep Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News Sunday:

Three (pigheaded) presidents have tried and failed to be friends with Putin. I’m just not sure it’s possible. I’ve cautioned his administration to be careful with Putin, as he remains a bad actor.

Mitch McConnell told CBS:

It’s not unusual for a new president to want to get along with the Russians, but they remain a big adversary, and they demonstrated it by trying to mess around in our election.

Obama told NBC Meet the Press on Sunday:

I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation for cyber-hacking and so forth to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.

‘No friction at all’ with Trump’s private security, Secret Service chief says
Pamela Brown, Mary Kay Mallonee, Ryan Browne, CNN, Jan 7 2017

Trump exits WTC 1, Jan 6 2017. Photo: Lucas Jackson/ Reuters

FASCHINGSTEIN – Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy wants to set the record straight about Trump’s private security team and whether it’s causing conflict with his agents. In an interview with CNN, Clancy also offered a wide-ranging look at the unique logistical challenges of providing security for Trump’s large family and securing his New York residence. Most of all, however, he wanted to push back against suggestions that there were conflicts between the Secret Service and the private security team that’s protected Trump for years. Politico reported last month that Trump’s private team “bristled” at the Secret Service’s desire to take the lead in protecting Trump and in some cases, they had gotten in the way of the agency’s protocols. But Clancy insisted:

There is no friction at all. We have sole responsibility for protecting the President and the first family. There is no overlap between his private team and us. They are not in our meetings. They are not armed. They are more of a staff function than a security function. We don’t interact with them. They are there to ensure public events run smoothly and there are no disruptions from the crowd. Secret Service agents are the only ones protecting the Pres-elect. Unless a protester is a direct physical threat to the President, we will not intervene. If a protester is removed, that is a decision made by event staff. We want to make sure everyone has their First Amendment rights.

Trump has named the head of his private security team, retired NYPD officer Keith Schiller, as his director of Oval Office operations and deputy assistant to the President. Clancy said:

Schiller serves as a conduit for information between the agents and the President-elect, and helps inform the Secret Service about any changes to Trump’s itinerary. He has a larger family. He’s got five children, grand-children, so that will require more assets, more personnel. Trump’s children are young adults, so they’re very active, they travel.

Trump’s Fifth Avenue residence in NYC, Trump Tower, where future First Lady Melania Trump plans to reside through next spring with the couple’s youngest son, presents a different challenge. Clancy said:

It’s not unusual for a first lady to be in a different location than the President, but the new arrangement represents a longer period of time than usual. But we would never advise the first family to change their preferred living arrangements. There are enough inconveniences when you take on this role as President and first lady. We don’t want to add to that.

The midtown Manhattan building sits on one of the busiest streets in the country. Clancy said:

The goal is to provide robust security while simultaneously allowing local businesses and residents to continue using the building. We are bringing in more resources. We’re working to establish a command post inside Trump Tower, pretty close to an entire floor.

According to Jared Horowitz, who works for the company responsible for available commercial space at Trump Tower, the floors available to rent, with the average floor space running between 13,500 to 15,500 sq ft, cost about $1.5m/yr. Asked about the high price tag, Clancy said:

We are required by law to pay for the property that we need. The space is critical to the protection of the President, so it’s something that needs to be done. It’s actually no different than what we’ve done with other presidents. We rented some property in Chicago when President Obama first became president for his trips when he was going out to Chicago. So this is typically what we do.

Regarding the government’s negotiations with their new landlord, the Trump Organization, Clancy said:

They’re very fair with us. They understand the responsibilities we have and they’ve been very accommodating.

Clancy, a 27-year veteran of the Secret Service who ran the presidential protection division during the first years of Obama’s presidency, noted there are more similarities than differences among the presidents they protect. He said:

I don’t think any of them sleep very well. They’re also very schedule-oriented. They all run on tight schedules. They’re all involved in athletics. Some enjoy golf, some enjoy running, some biking.

In the past year and a half that the Secret Service has been working with Trump, Clancy said he has met with him a couple of times, describing him as “very gracious and very appreciative” of the Secret Service. Asked how Trump was adjusting to motorcades and having round-the-clock teams of armed agents guarding him, Clancy said:

It’s unusual for anyone to get used to it, but he has been terrific.

Two newer areas the Secret Service is focused on are social media and cyber-threats, an area of particular concern given Trump’s frequent use of Twitter and mounting concerns regarding cyber-security. The director said the Secret Service now has a specific division focused on potential social media threats. He also said they are deploying the same experts that provide cyber-security for the Pindo financial system in order to ensure that facilities visited by the president are defended from cyber-attacks. He said:

Everything keeps me up night. But that’s our business.

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