Just because the president refuses to effectively address a problem doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to go away, and in that light, the scandal over Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — and possible Trump team cooperation in that interference — continues to rage on. Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller has so far brought charges against four of the president’s former associates at this point, including most recently the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
That’s not all, though. The threat of Russian election interference continues, both here in the United States and overseas, in Europe.
Senate Democrats, led by ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, have now cooperated in the production of a report on the ongoing threat to European democracies of Russian meddling. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report before its official release on Wednesday, which did not boast a single Republican signatory.
The report details Russian election meddling operations in nineteen European nations and slams President Trump for taking essentially no strong steps to combat the threat posed by Russian information warfare. As the report puts it:
‘Never before has a U.S. president so clearly ignored such a grave and growing threat to U.S. national security.’
Trump has occasionally acknowledged that concrete evidence reveals the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine Western democracies, but to say that he has tempered those acknowledgements with assertions that there is “nothing to see here” would be an understatement. After briefly meeting with Vladimir Putin himself late last year at an economic summit in Europe, Trump told reporters that he believed the Russian leader’s insistence that his country had not meddled in our political processes.
Trump, revealing himself to not only take little seriously but also to be surprisingly clueless, followed up those comments the next day by saying he’s “with our agencies” on the matter of Russian election meddling. At that moment, it was no doubt efforts to come across as a legitimate leader briefly shining through, efforts that fall entirely short when the president continuously expresses his actual dismissive opinions about matters as pressing as Russian election interference.
As Sen. Cardin put it:
‘While President Trump stands practically idle, Mr. Putin continues to refine his asymmetric arsenal and look for future opportunities to disrupt governance and erode support for the democratic and international institutions that the United States and Europe have built over the last 70 years.’
Cardin’s report, besides pushing for a strong Congressional voice to pick up the president’s slack, also reveals that elections in countries as “forward” as England, France, and Germany have all been targeted by the same Russian information warfare operations that took on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Cardin wants the president to form an interagency “fusion cell” to address the threat of Russian election interference modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. It would be beneficial for essentially all of us here in the West to have a president who would actually do such a thing, but our actual president prefers to simply ignore actual problems in the face of his desire to advance his own personal political agenda.
If he really has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he cooperate with both the investigation into his team and the broader ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in Western democracies?
Among the most recent developments in the Russia scandal was Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Tuesday decision to release the entire transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony offered before the Senate Judiciary Committee late last year.
Simpson’s firm helped craft the infamous “Trump dossier” and has been the subject of intense Republican scrutiny; Feinstein intended to counter Republicans’ efforts to discredit Simpson with the release of the transcript.
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