We should celebrate as a nation this total victory over our longtime enemy. Here’s Dan Coats, Trump’s own director of national intelligence, speaking five days ago:
Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are launching daily cyber strikes on the computer networks of federal, state and local government agencies, U.S. corporations, and academic institutions, said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Of the four, “Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor, no question,” he said…
He likened daily cyber attacks to the “alarming activities” that U.S. intelligence agencies detected before al Qaeda staged the most devastating extremist attack on the U.S. homeland on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The system was blinking red. Here we are nearly two decades later and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again,” he said.
Here’s his boss today:
Is Russia still targeting the US? Trump says, "No." pic.twitter.com/L5ZY9DE4r1
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) July 18, 2018
Sounds like that Helsinki summit was productive after all. No wonder so many people loved it:
So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
I don’t know why Coats doesn’t quit. POTUS undermined him two days ago while standing next to Putin, now he’s undermined him again. The argument typically given against quitting is that it would create an important vacancy that might be filled by a crony or an incompetent (or both) but that’s less of a risk when the replacement would require Senate confirmation, as is true in Coats’s case. Trump’s not going to get 50 Senate votes to make Hope Hicks the new DNI. Even if he did, he’d still have capable people like Chris Wray and Gina Haspel atop the operational intelligence food chain. So what’s holding Coats back? If the president won’t accept his conclusions then there’s no reason for him to stay on the job. And if he’s as worried as he seems about Russian interference, nothing would communicate that more starkly than resigning because the White House doesn’t share his concern.
Maybe Trump told Coats that Putin pinky-swore in Finland that he’d no longer target America? That would be a gamechanger indeed.
Via Mediaite, here’s the crew from “Outnumbered” reacting moments after his Oval Office comments. How often do you hear a Trump-friendly Fox News host like Melissa Francis say on air that he sounds “insane”? Exit quotation from Stephen Miller, anticipating tomorrow’s Trump clean-up effort about Russian targeting in light of yesterday’s weird spin: “I re-read the transcript and what I meant to say was yes.”
Update: For cripes sake. Just own it!
White House: Trump "was saying no to answering questions," not saying no as to whether Russia is meddling.
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) July 18, 2018
Tapper calls BS, noting this very similar exchange between Trump and CBS on Saturday:
2/ CBS: Your D.N.I., Dan Coats, said that America's digital infrastructure's at a critical point…Similar to what it was like..before 9/11, and that is, we're susceptible to a, to a large scale attack. Do you agree with that?
President Trump: I don't know if I agree with that.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 18, 2018