In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, historian David Rothkopf accused Donald Trump’s latest national security director, Robert O’Brien, of undercutting the United States intelligence services and uses his comments about recent reports of new Russian election meddling to make the case that he is contradicting FBI Director Christopher Wray to please the president.
According to Rothkopf, “For just over a century, since America arrived as a major force on the global stage, we have feared that should our enemies defeat us, it would be on the battlefield or via a devastating nuclear onslaught. We never could have imagined that an enemy might take another approach altogether: infecting us with a presidential virus who this week gutted our national security leadership structures like a fish.”
The tip of the spear for Trump’s assault on the national security apparatus would be O’Brien, who the columnist accuses of being under-qualified for his position and only exists to make Trump happy, while noting that O’Brien — like recently announced acting Director of National Intelligence head Richard Grenell — is “the least experienced and least qualified person ever to hold the high office to which he was appointed.”
Case in point, O’Brien’s appearance on ABC with George Stephanopoulos where he spoke about concerns about the Russian meddling and attempted to blow them off as inconsequential.
“O’Brien dismissed reports of the intelligence briefing on the Hill as coming from ‘second-hand sources’. He said he has seen no back-up for the assertions that the Russians were intervening yet again,” the columnist wrote. “He completely sidestepped the fact that this week FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that such interventions were underway. He completely ignored the imperative that because the Russians interfered last time, preparing for another round of attacks and disinformation campaigns would be the minimum basic step any senior U.S. national security official should be undertaking. He pretended as though the intelligence community had not unanimously concluded the Russians intervened on Trump’s behalf in 2016, and that in last year’s threat assessment their leaders had not said they expected the same or worse in 2020.”
“O’Brien, like all Trump officials, was addressing an audience of one. Any sense of responsibility to protect U.S. national security was absent,” he charged. “Any grasp of facts that are clear to even the casual observer of recent events was missing. O’Brien, like all other Trump officials who survive, has made clear that he sees his job as to serve as a kind of human cocktail of drugs for the erratic president—part palliative, part sedative. His job is to keep the boss calm and happy, feeling good about himself and feeling good about O’Brien.”
Adding, “The NSC is the brain of the national security apparatus. Trump and O’Brien are giving it a lobotomy,” the columnist wrote, ” The O’Brien formula—placating Trump at all costs, denying the facts, and gutting the institution he was charged with running—is one we have seen elsewhere in the Trump national security team.”
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