Trump seems fixated on “hardening” our schools, but his own National Security Agency chief said yesterday that our so-called commander-in-chief isn’t doing enough to harden our elections. Which is certainly no surprise, given Trump’s apparent determination to abet Putin’s ongoing invasion.
We’re so jaded at this point that even the most horrific news stories barely tilt the shock-meter. Prior to this era, imagine how most citizens would’ve reacted if the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command had told the Senate that the president of the United States was essentially asleep at the wheel while a hostile nation was plotting — for the second time — to mess with America’s campaign and balloting rituals. Heck, imagine how Fox News and its allied propagandists would be reacting if a Democratic president was exhibiting such weakness, violating the oath of office to protect and defend.
By the time you finish the next two paragraphs, we will probably have moved on to the next deadening jolt. But what the heck, just for the record:
Admiral Michael Rogers, the NSA chief and cyber commander, testified that Trump still hasn’t given him full authority to take all possible steps to stop the Russians from meddling in the ’18 congressional midterms. In his own words, “We’re probably not doing enough.” The Russians “haven’t paid a price at least that’s sufficient to get them to change their behavior,” and “if we don’t change the dynamic, that [behavior] is going to continue, and 2016 won’t be viewed as isolated. This is something that will be sustained over time.”
Rogers also said, “It’s probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage [with] some of the behaviors we are seeing.” When he was directly asked whether he has received orders from Trump to fully engage the Russians, he replied, “No, I have not.” Despite the fact that “I’ve certainly provided my opinion in ongoing discussions.”
His testimony dovetailed with the latest revelation that Russian operatives, in 2016, had compromised the election websites or voter registration systems of seven states — including Wisconsin, which Trump won in a squeaker. The operatives, in some cases, penetrated voter registration databases. You might not have heard this news, posted last night, because who among us has the capacity to keep up — let alone connect all the dots?
Perhaps Russia would pay a price if Trump were to implement tough sanctions that Congress approved last August in a bipartisan landslide. But still he refuses. All told, we know by now that we can’t expect him to take the lead on combating the clear and present Russian danger. A guy who views the ’16 Russian invasion as a Democratic “hoax,” who uses his “executive time” to tweet quotes from “Fox and Friends,” isn’t cognitively capable of ordering Mike Rogers to defend the democratic process by all available means.
Predictably, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tasked yesterday with mopping the latest slop. When asked at the daily press briefing to comment on Rogers’ testimony, she said — and I’m not making this up — that “this president has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor.” Which was odd, because I seem to recall that when the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia and ejected 35 Russian diplomats after the ’16 election, as punishment for the election meddling, Trump apparatchiks like Michael Flynn signaled to the Russians backstage that those measures would soon be lifted.
Steve Schmidt, the veteran Republican strategist, puts it all in perspective. He tweeted yesterday:
“Trump’s refusal to defend the integrity of the U.S. election system and our democracy from Russian attack represents an unconscionable dereliction of duty and utter faithlessness to his oath of office. This betrayal is unprecedented in American history. There has never been a president who refuses to defend America. Ever.”
But hey, at least naif-for-sale Jared Kushner has been busted down to a lower clearance. The intelligence community is certainly relieved; the prince of nepotism, in his lust for foreign investment lucre, is a security threat all by himself. Rick Wilson, another Republican strategist, deftly twists the knife: “Kushner has no one to blame but himself. His ambition exceeded his abilities by orders of magnitude so vast it would take a team of advanced mathematicians a generation to devise a system by which to measure the differential.”
Also, on the upside of life, a potential blue wave continues to build. Last night, for the 38th and 39th time since Trump’s inauguration, grassroots Democrats flipped two state legislative seats from red to blue. If you’re wondering how many seats have gone from blue to red during the Trump era, here’s the answer: Four.
In a New Hampshire legislative district long held by Republicans, a district that Trump won by 13 points, voters last night elected a Democrat by eight points. And in a downstate Connecticut legislative district that was solidly GOP, voters elected their first Democrat in 40 years. As I’ve previously written, similar flips have happened this year in the red states of Wisconsin, Missouri, Florida, and Kentucky.
For some reason, Trump has failed to tweet about this pattern. Let’s help him out:
So much winning!