President Trump just commented on a number of news stories before boarding Marine One to leave the White House. I’ve noted a couple memorable moments below. The really important one is about the Russia scandal and how he now believes he is vindicated in calling the entirety of the matter a hoax.
To review, the President is arguing that the news about the so-called Steele Dossier is now revealed as a hoax and that the Uranium One conspiracy theory floated by John Solomon in The Hill means it was the Democrats who colluded with Russia. The entirety of this is so nonsensical as to not require or merit any real discussion. Some people are up in arms that Trump needs to be proven wrong otherwise he’ll ‘win’. I’m not terribly worried about this. These probes have a life of their own and I don’t think Trump is convincing anyone that he hasn’t already.
But that misses what matters. We don’t know for a fact that Trump or his campaign took affirmative steps to collude with Russia in its 2016 election subversion campaign. We have overwhelming evidence that the subversion campaign happened. We now know it was far broader than the theft and distribution of confidential emails that gained so much attention last year. We know that it continued on major social media networks until last month and almost certainly continues on those same networks today. Most importantly, we have every reason to think that the 2018 and 2020 election campaigns will be similarly targeted.
Most of us likely see Trump’s comments in the context of his endless nonsense and lying. But that’s not the important part. Russia may not be an enemy but it is an adversary state which has defined a strategic priority of destabilizing the US and the European Union. That includes information operations and likely actual vote tally tampering as well. This is all happening. It’s a direct attack on the country. It’s not something we need to overreact about. It’s not something we cannot combat through counter-intelligence operations and societal awareness. But it is a serious and on-going attack. If the President is out there publicly saying it’s not happening, saying it’s a hoax, he is actively and directly assisting the attack. There’s no other way to put it. He is charged by his oath with preserving the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. He pledged to defend against all attacks but he’s actively assisting one. That is just as much the case as it would be if he repeatedly denied an adversary power were moving conventional arms into positions which threatened the United States.
He is actively and directly assisting the attack and the attack is on-going. Why he’s doing that is not really relevant. He’s doing it.