The New York Times Magazine piece outlining President Donald Trump's battles with the U.S. intelligence community revealed that Russia is continuing to wage its own cyberwar against the world. According to conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot, the devastating report explained the extent to which the president is ignoring the threats to the 2020 election.
“The options faced by the intelligence community during Trump’s presidency have been stark: avoid infuriating the president but compromise the agencies’ ostensible independence, or assert that independence and find yourself replaced with a more sycophantic alternative," wrote Robert Draper in his lengthy investigation into Trump's efforts to politicize international intelligence. According to Boot, the most shocking part of the investigation was that the experts in the intelligence community have been banned from speaking honestly about the Russian attacks.
The intelligence world is desperately trying to protect the United States without the support of the White House and the GOP-led Senate. Boot cited the embarrassing statement from the career law enforcement official Trump put in charge of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
William Evanina issued a statement weeks ago admitting, “Russia continues to spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process and denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America.” Despite his tough persona, Trump has become the Vladimir Putin puppet that he claimed his opponent would be.
When Congress was briefed on the election threats, they begged the White House to be transparent to the public about the threats facing the country.
"Evanina was — but only up to a point," wrote Boot.
In a statement Friday, he acknowledged, “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden” and “some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television... Pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.”
Derkach was the man who met frequently with Rudy Giuliani in the attempt to create an international conspiracy about Biden. The effort led to Trump being impeached by Congress. There is now another last-minute effort through Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to use the false Russian propaganda to investigate Biden. It's similar to the way in which Republicans hauled Clinton before Congress as part of the six Benghazi investigations that never turned up any evidence of wrongdoing.
"Yet even while admitting that Russia is once again mounting a covert campaign to help Trump, Evanina felt compelled to balance this inconvenient reality by also saying what Trump wants to hear: that China and Iran favor Biden’s election," wrote Boot. "This moral equivalence disguises the difference between Iranian and Chinese opposition to Trump — expressed primarily through public statements and actions — and the covert disinformation campaign waged by Russia with eager assistance from Trump’s aides and enablers."
While it was reported last week that Russia and China both have a preference in the next president, Russia is the only one that is actively running a campaign for Trump and against Biden.
Just getting this much information was a surprise as pressure from the White House forced a change in a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) removing findings of Russia trying to reelect Trump.
“Russian leaders probably assess that chances to improve relations with the U.S. will diminish under a different U.S. president,” the NIE rewrote the report. If that's accurate, former acting CIA director Michael Morell said, “it is the first example the public knows of the IC tailoring a written product to avoid angering POTUS. That would be the IC politicizing its own work.”
Former director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, was reportedly fired for refusing to make such changes at the demand of Trump. Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire did it, but his staff told the House Intelligence Committee about it in February. So, Trump moved on to Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe.
"We are all suffering from scandal fatigue, but this scandal cannot be ignored," said Boot. "Trump does not want the intelligence community to expose Russian attacks because he is their beneficiary. This is yet another example of how Trump undermines our democracy and subordinates our national security to his personal interests. It is hard to imagine a greater or more dangerous dereliction of duty. If Trump is not held accountable in November, the damage to our institutions may become irreversible."