Quick — someone call Mitt Romney! Earlier today, DNC chair Tom Perez appeared on CNN’s New Day to declare that “we are at war” with Russia. “Our commander-in-chief is compromised,” Perez proclaimed, meaning that “the federal government is asleep at the wheel.”
If televisions came with irony meters, this would have broken the needle:
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 25, 2019
It’s funnier if you remember the DNC’s position in 2012, from their “Truth Team,” no less:
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) October 22, 2012
And it’s even funnier if one recalls the previous president’s position. Did we mention being compromised on security issues with Russia?
What’s most ironic about Perez’ histrionics is that the damage done in the 2016 cycle took place when Democrats ran the national-security apparatus, with Barack Obama at the top. Obama had been warned on multiple occasions about the risk of Russian propaganda/disinformation campaigns and chose not to do anything about it until just weeks before the election. Tom Cotton tried to start a specific program to deal with the issue in 2015 only to have Obama spike it. When it became obvious that Moscow was meddling, the Obama administration had counterintelligence back off from any significant response, which Obama’s cyber-defense chief later acknowledged. Former CIA director John Brennan tried defending Obama on having to “balance” interests with Russia but ended up damning him all the more — especially given the hysterical response from Democrats to its outcome while trying to blame it on Trump.
On whose watch did all this take place, anyway? Which president was “asleep at the switch”? Alisyn Camerota didn’t ask Perez about that in this clip, but she did ask another good question that caught Perez by surprise. Perez calls the use of hacked DNC emails by the Trump campaign unconscionable, but when Camerota asks Perez to pledge not to use leaked Trump tax returns, suddenly the issue of fair game comes up:
CAMEROTA: But what if you get something really juicy? Say, President Trump’s taxes? Then should one of the Democratic candidates be able to air those?
PEREZ: Well, that’s going to be the product of a subpoena process, where —
CAMEROTA: Maybe. I mean, maybe it’s going to be leaked. What if that’s leaked to you — are you saying that the Democrats shouldn’t use that?
PEREZ: Well, again, uh, I think we are entitled to that if you look at the law that Chairman Neal of the House Ways and Means Committee is using. It’s very clear. It doesn’t say you’re entitled to taxes unless it’s the president of the United States.
Actually, that law doesn’t say Democrats are entitled to the tax returns, nor does it say those tax returns can be published. In fact, the law in 26 USC 6103 makes it clear that the data has to be reviewed in “closed executive session” to prevent the release of the tax return data. If Neal gets those returns and they get published, it would violate the law — and yet Perez seems oddly sanguine about his entitlement to make use of them. Just as the media and the Trump campaign was sanguine about rummaging through the leaked DNC e-mails. And while we’re at it, maybe Perez can offer a thought or two about the Hillary Clinton campaign hiring a former British intelligence operative to collect unverified allegations that may have been part of that same Russian disinformation campaign.
At any rate, it is reassuring to see that Democrats have finally realized that Russia is a significant geopolitical foe after all. But after the track record of the last Democratic president in dealing with that threat, perhaps they shouldn’t be so quick to screech about it on television.