Every day, normal presidents would meet with their intelligence staff and hear about the threats against Americans. MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace said that obviously, after 9-11, it was even more critical to understand how to protect Americans at home and abroad.
"Normal presidents start every day before they meet with people like me in the press office, they meet with people like you," Wallace said to Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. "They want to know threats about Americans...and the standard isn't after the attack isn't after the attack is successful. You failed if that's when you walk into the Oval with intel. The standard is when you're strategizing how to muster the forces diplomatically, militarily, and putting the president in as part of the national security team. To me, the buried lead here is Donald Trump isn't part of protecting America's national security."
Rhodes explained that based on what he has read about the Russian bounty scandal, the information gleaned that is public is already much more specific than some intelligence that he would get with Obama. He noted that even vague information that couldn't be confirmed would make its way to Obama's desk if it was about a threat to Americans and U.S. personnel abroad.
"It was not unusual that we would get briefed on threats to personnel," he explained. "And what do you do, you immediately call your military commanders, your intelligence community, and you say, 'What can we do to protect our troops in harm's way.' It is astonishing to me, Nicole, that the best defense that this White House can muster is that Donald Trump didn't read his briefing when we're not even just talking about the [Presidential Daily Briefing]."
Rhodes explained that in the reports, "the wire" is referenced, which is an intelligence report that goes to thousands of people.
"It makes reference to the fact that we have corroborations with financial transfers, it has reference to reports to allies," he said of the report. "So, clearly thousands of people have consumed this information, think it's important, think our troops' lives may be in danger, and think, frankly, some troops may have been killed based on reports and Donald Trump is doing nothing other than calling this a hoax, lying about whether or not he received this information, and not, you know, being derelict, frankly, in his duty as commander in chief."
He went on to call Trump a "threat to national security," and to the lives of the American people.
"To walk people through it, we would come in the first meeting every day for President Obama was in the Oval Office, to review the Presidential Daily Briefing," said Rhodes. "The assumption before we walked into the office is that we had all already read it. So, we actually didn't have somebody come and read it aloud. We had somebody come and answer questions from us about the information to help inform what the president should do to follow up. And it is just astonishing to me here that you have an adversary of the United States, this is a bombshell piece of information, paying bounties on the heads of U.S. troops, that within minutes of getting that information, there was ant process set up to protect our troops."
He explained that there wasn't a phone call from Trump threatening Russian President Vladimir Putin with consequences, or a call to the Taliban, which Trump was working to negotiate a peace treaty with. In fact, since Trump was given the information about Russia putting a bounty on the heads of American soldiers, he's invited Putin to the United States for the G7 meeting and said that Putin must be invited to rejoin it.
"The president of the United States recently announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany, which makes sense to absolutely no one, except Vladimir Putin, who very much wants to see that happen," said Rhodes. "So, he's both putting our troops at risk, and he seems to continue to be pursuing a foreign policy agenda that only makes sense from the perspective of Moscow. That's just the plain reality of what's happening, Nicole, that's staring us in the face. It is deeply, deeply profoundly abnormal."
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