Instead of taking action to stop Russian election interference, the White House is suggesting that it’s a “past problem” that was Obama’s fault

Continuing our conversation about the serious, ongoing threat to our nation posed by Russia and our President’s unwillingness to take meaningful action, I wanted to note two interesting things that happened this afternoon. First, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers today told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that we can expect further cyber attacks from Russia, as “Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here.” And, second, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemingly contradicted Rogers this afternoon, refering to Russian election interference as a “past problem.”

[In related news, we also learned the names of the seven U.S. states that had their voter registration rolls hacked into by the Russians prior to our last election this afternoon. They were Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.]

Here, in case you missed it, is video of NSA Director Rogers telling members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Putin, having yet to pay a price for his meddling in 2016, will most assuredly continue his cyber warfare efforts against the United States in 2018. It should also be noted that, a little while later in his testimony this afternoon, Rogers would inform the members of the committee that, to date, he has not been granted the authority by either the President of Secretary of Defense to “disrupt Russian cyber threats where they originate”.

And here’s the White House response from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who, after referring to Russian election interference as a “past problem,” suggested that any blame to be had should not fall on Trump, but on Obama. “Let’s not forget,” Sanders told the White House press corps, “that this happened under Obama. It didn’t happen under President Trump.”

For what it’s worth, our president apparently had bigger, more important things on his mind today than the ongoing threat posed by Russia… Instead of acting on the sanctions passed by Congress, or calling a meeting of his cabinet to discuss the possibility of a comprehensive, coordinated, government-wide response to safeguard our upcoming election, Trump was busy announcing that Brad Parscale would be running his 2020 re-election campaign.

As for why Trump would choose Parscale, who is currently under investigation by Robert Mueller, I suspect it has to do with the very real possibility that Parascale may be the next American citizen named in a federal indictment… As you’ll recall, a little over a week ago, a grand jury indicted 13 Russians for their involvement through the Moscow-based Internet Research Agency to conduct “interference operations targeting the United States” in the run up to the 2016 election, leaving many to think that the next indictments might involve the Americans helping to coordinate their sophisticated social media attacks. And Parscale, who was the head of digital operations for the Trump campaign in 2016, is at the top of the list of those who might get charged, along with those who he worked with at the conservative data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, for telling the Russians where to focus their efforts on American social media in order to swing the election away from Clinton.

With Parascale being the head of the 2020 campaign, Trump, when the indictment comes down, can now yell, “This proves that the FBI is biased against me,” suggesting that they’d charged his campaign manager in order to keep him from winning re-election. [I can already hear him saying, “They’re indicting my campaign manager because they know I’d win reelection in 2020 in a landslide and they don’t want that to happen.”] Plus, it’s just Trump’s modus operandi to keep people close who might have incriminating evidence against him. Most importantly, though, Parscale, who ghost-wrote many of Trump’s tweets during the campaign, knows the game. He fights dirty, and he knows how to both stoke the paranoid fears of the Trump base and shift blame. And, with the end of this novel fast approaching, I suspect he’s exactly the kind of man that Trump would like at his side, helping con the rubes out of their hard-earned campaign donations, while, at the same time, constructing a wall of bullshit and lies to obfuscate the truth and impede the investigation.

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6 Comments

  1. Rat
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    The coming election is going to be a fiasco.

  2. Kim
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    You missed the biggest news of yesterday — Hope Hicks saying that her job at the White House is to tell “white lies” for Trump.

    https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/968697779269840897?s=21

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “White lies” takes on new meaning when in service to our current president.

    My traditional GOP relatives are predicting being destroyed in 2018 misterms, from top to bottom. Tax reform and a continuing improving economy (for now, until the inflation hits…) is their only hope. We’ll see. I still believe that if Dems can hold their always tenuous coalition together over the next decade, we have serious strategic advantage into the future. My biggest concern is that Trump, backed into a corner, will engage in a ‘pre-emptive attack” in the next 6 months or closer to 2020 to bolster his support. Right now his threats and volatility are helping move diplomatic efforts. Of course, the State Department has been gutted of diplomats and FP experts, so it’s hard to know how that can work out well.

  4. M
    Posted February 28, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    White Lies Matter

    As for Parscale, he’s like Bannon, but with skills.

  5. anonymous
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Did you see this?

    https://newsstand.google.com/articles/CAIiEF87u4uzJKgbURuIWh1NVWMqGQgEKhAIACoHCAowocv1CjCSptoCMPrTpgU

    Putin boasted about the Kremlin’s resurgent military might during his annual address to his nation’s parliament, hyping weaponry that he said would render NATO defenses “completely useless.”

    He drew repeated applause with animation-backed claims of nuclear-capable weapons that elude air-defense systems and “invincible” missiles that travel at hypersonic speed.

    “Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, any kind of attack, will be regarded as a nuclear attack against Russia, and in response, we will take action instantaneously no matter what the consequences are,” Putin said. “Nobody should have any doubt about that.”

    Putin, who is up for reelection March 18, used Thursday’s speech to showcase his country’s strides in military technology.

    “Russia still has the greatest nuclear potential in the world, but nobody listened to us,” he said. “Listen now.”

    To drive home his point, Putin spoke as a video showed multiple nuclear warheads streaking through space before showering down on what appears to be the outline of the state of Florida.

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted March 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Counter point: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-fundamental-uncertainty-of-muellers-russia-indictments

    I’m reminded that we often imagine terrorists to be diabolically brilliant in both fiction and journalism when by all first hand accounts they are bumbling force of disruption and chaos rather than strategic. Much like our President and according to Masha Gessen, a lot like the Kremlin attempts to influence the election. (There’s also a long David Remnick interview with Gessen on this subject) I’m reminded of all that Central European lit I read in the 80’s. What is diabolical is often not genius, but idiocy.

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