Thursday, December 15, 2016

Donald Trump’s Lies About Russia

If nothing else, Donald Trump has proven himself time and time again to be a pathological liar. Worse yet, he denies fats that are substantiated both by video recordings and contemporaneously published news articles. Now, faced with (i) what the CIA and other intelligence agencies say is overwhelming evidence of Russian intelligence hacking the DNC and other Democrat offices, (ii) previous reports on Trump's reliance on Russian money, and (iii) statements by Russian officials that Trump campaign officials communicated with  Moscow during the campaign, Trump resorts to lying about everything and trying to spin the whole frightening affair as "ridiculous" and unfounded because the White House failed to act strongly back in October.   The New York Times sums up Trumps lies and duplicity in a main page editorial.  Here are highlights:
No matter how divided our politics and our times, Americans can agree that our status as a strong, democratic nation rests on the bedrock of free and fair elections. That confidence is what was targeted when Russia, one of our oldest, most determined foreign adversaries, invaded American computer networks and released thousands of pages of documents to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
This news emerged last summer. Last month, the Central Intelligence Agency shared a further conclusion, based on months of analysis, that the Russian hacking was intended to favor Donald Trump.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, said recently. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
Extrapolating motive from evidence is always tricky. But after the C.I.A. provided classified briefings for Congress and the White House, members of both political parties were convinced.
But not President-elect Trump.
Mr. Trump’s instant rejection of the C.I.A. findings as “ridiculous,” based on no review of its work, echoed Moscow’s.
On Nov. 10, two days after the election, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said “there were contacts” between Moscow and Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives,” Mr. Ryabkov said.
Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers, resigned after reports described his political ties to Russia. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, sat with Mr. Putin at a gala for Russian state television, where he has appeared as a commentator.
Donald Trump Jr. told a real estate gathering in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” adding “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Mr. Trump hasn’t released tax returns or other records that could ease fears that he has financial deals in Russia to protect. And he’s refusing to divest his business interests, so whatever ties there may be are likely to remain.
President Obama has asked the nation’s intelligence community to deliver a fuller report on its findings before he leaves office on Jan. 20, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing for a congressional investigation. The results of that inquiry should be made public, and the intelligence community should tell Americans as much as it can about the cyberattack and its goals.
Mr. Trump’s reaction to the C.I.A.’s findings leaves him isolated, and underscores his dangerous unfamiliarity with the role of intelligence in maintaining national security. There could be no more “useful idiot,” to use Lenin’s term of art, than an American president who doesn’t know he’s being played by a wily foreign power. Or maybe it’s as Mr. Trump says: He’s “a smart person,” and avoids presidential intelligence briefings because they repeat what he already knows. If so, what else does he know about Russia that the intelligence agencies don’t?
Sadly, I have a gut feeling that Trump wasn't being played by Putin but rather was in league and cooperation with him.  Recall how Trump on occasion seemed to know what was in hacked e-mails and communications before they were published.  I suspect a Russian "bird" told him all about what was being done and due for release.  The word treason keeps forming on my lips.

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