An imperiled president says the state of the union demands radical change and asks the help of a supine Congress, while an imperiled administrative state seeks to protect constitutional government with the help of a burgeoning civil society protest movement and unknown allies in the FBI and CIA.
Spats between the White House and intelligence agencies are hardly new, though in decades past these feuds tended to be on policy grounds. Trump’s, however, is more personal. Now, the question is not whether he continues to wage war with the intelligence establishment—it is how far he is willing to go.
The problem with torture is that people will say anything to make it stop. There is abundant evidence of this behavior in Washington, where the fear of political death also makes people say anything. Only electoral torture — the threat of losing power — can account for the readiness of the White House and the Republican Congress to say anything.
There is a reason officers who know what they are talking about do not use the expression “radical Islam.” It tars an entire faith and it contributes to creating the religious war Trump fears. The Muslim ban will make us less safe; worse, it erodes our democracy and contributes to making us a fear-and-hate-filled, divided nation at war with the world and progressively ourselves.
Anyone who feels compelled to boast about how smart he is clearly suffers from a profound insecurity about his intelligence and accomplishments. In Trump’s case, he has good reason to have doubts. Beneath Trump’s public bravado is a deeply insecure, troubled man who is unfit to be president. This makes him a danger to the country and the world.
Kellyanne Conway and team Trump seem to think that unless every inauguration attendee was personally counted, the Trump team can assert whatever it wants—evidence be damned. “I don’t think you can prove those numbers one way or the other,” Conway said. “There’s no way to really quantify crowds. We all know that.”
Trump said he had a “running war” with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out for his swearing-in. White House officials made clear no truce was on the horizon in television interviews that set a much harsher tone in the traditionally adversarial relationship between the White House and the press corps.
“Many people are asking whether we can serve under a president and national security adviser who’ve expressed such contempt for the intelligence community,” said a veteran CIA officer.
In the short term, if the president just ignores the intelligence community that’s obviously extremely dangerous, because the decisions won’t be made based on the facts. But in the long run, you can actually have an impact on the intelligence community itself. So that a young person coming out of a graduate program decides instead of going to the CIA, I’m going to instead go to Goldman Sachs, and make a lot more money anyway.
Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan issued a stern parting rebuke to Donald Trump days before he assumes the U.S. presidency, advising him not to absolve Russia for its recent actions and warning him to watch what he says. The CIA director said Trump needs to be mindful about his off-the-cuff remarks once he takes the oath of office, alluding to his penchant for making broad pronouncements on Twitter.
The Trump dossier is an intelligence file, not a prosecution memo; its purpose is not to prove a case but to point a direction. And as subsequent coverage in the Guardian and Financial Times indicated, its author Christopher Steele is no mere purveyor of gossip. He is a highly respected and experienced former official of MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, where he oversaw the agency’s work in Russia and Eastern Europe for decades.
An unprecedented pre-presidential inauguration feud between Donald Trump and intelligence agencies that soon will be under his command could harm U.S. security if not quickly defused. These disputes could prompt the departure of personnel and lead those who remain to take fewer risks to counter security threats.
Diverging from Trump’s stated aim of seeking closer ties with Russia, Pompeo said that Russia is “asserting itself aggressively” by invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and “doing nearly nothing” to destroy Islamic State.
The classified briefings last week were presented to Trump and President Obama by the Director of National Intelligence and the directors of the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency. The U.S. intelligence chiefs included a classified summary of the material to make Trump aware that it is circulating among federal agencies, senior members of Congress, and government officials.
It is inconceivable that the leader of the free world and commander in chief of the United States would welcome Julian Assange — unless that leader is the bizarre Donald Trump, who invites the WIkileaker into his bedchamber.
What exactly do Trump voters think they’re getting out of the Russian connection? Most simply don’t care. They’ve basically chosen party over country. They dislike Americans who vote Democratic far more than Putin, a distant figure. And most are too busy gloating and rationalizing Trump’s boasts to worry about the Kremlin’s arm lock on the White House.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning Trump that “rogue elements” within the CIA are trying to “assassinate” him before he takes office. Trump reportedly speaks to Jones on the phone and watches his videos, and he has previously echoed Jones’ other conspiracy theories and rhetoric.
The right-wing media has spent years holding Putin up as a “better leader” than Obama, which set the stage for Republican opinions to shift in the autocrat’s favor, leading to a nearly 50-point swing in support from conservatives in just over two years.
Right-wing media sought to dismiss news that the CIA concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to actively help Trump by falsely claiming that the report is merely “fake news.”
The CIA’s finding that Putin hacked the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf is extremely dangerous to democracy. Without firing a single shot, the Kremlin is weeks away from installing its puppet in the White House.
Former U.S. intelligence officers, already concerned about some of Trump’s remarks disparaging their work, warned that skipping the daily briefing could leave Trump slow to recognize developing crises.
During the campaign, Trump went so far as to hint that a “400-pound guy at his home in New Jersey” hacked those Democratic emails. Was he trying to frame the nefarious Chris Christie? Now, instead of taking daily intelligence briefings, he’s on a campaign-style tour of rallies, handing out hideous hats.
Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan also said that in dealing with the Syrian crisis, Donald Trump should be cautious in trying to work with Russia.
Castro’s death – which would once have thrown a question mark over Cuba’s future – seems unlikely to trigger a crisis as Raul Castro is firmly ensconced in power.
Representative Mike Pompeo, Trump’s surprise choice to head the CIA, supports the U.S. government’s sweeping collection of Americans’ communications data and wants to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran.