Trump’s Russophilia has become intelligence policy
Trump's unsettling relationship with Putin’s regime has infected the rest of the government
Multiple reports suggest U.S. officials risk the wrath of President Trump whenever they discuss misbehavior by Russian President Vladimir Putin, including ongoing interference in the U.S. presidential election. The most recent example comes from FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Wray was categorical about ongoing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. “We certainly have seen very active—very active—efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020,” Mr. Wray said, specifically “to both sow divisiveness and discord, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, to primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden in what the Russians see as a kind of an anti-Russian establishment.”
Within hours of Wray’s sworn testimony, President Trump expressed his disapproval. “But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia,” Trump tweeted.
Trump continued to express his disapproval the next day noting, “We’re looking at a lot of different things and I did not like his answers yesterday and I’m not sure he liked them either. I’m sure he probably would agree with me. And if you look at it, who is the real problem? The big problem is China. And we can have others also and I’m not excluding anybody. But the big problem is China, and why he doesn’t want to say that, that certainly bothers me.”
Despite Trump’s unwillingness to point the finger at Putin, the intelligence community finds the evidence overwhelming. According to a classified CIA report disclosed by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, the CIA concludes that “President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November.”
Despite Trump’s unwillingness to point the finger at Putin, the intelligence community finds the evidence overwhelming.
At the same time, CIA Director Gina Haspel reportedly has reduced the flow of Russia-related intelligence for review by the president, who famously does not react well to such information. Attorney General William Barr, when asked during an interview on CNN earlier this month, said China was the bigger threat, more than Russia. Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, listed China ahead of Russia in discussing threats to the U.S. election. Nobody disputes that China is interfering in the election; the difference is that Russian efforts are far more developed and persistent and seek to stir the pot and sow divisiveness, as FBI Director rightly said, on sensitive social and racial issues in the United States.