Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Trump and Russia: Cooperation if not collusion

leave a comment »

From the Washington Post’s Daily 202 (where I found the above tweet):

— Trump repeatedly suggested firing the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan during a tense White House meeting last month “because he is not winning the war,” NBC’s Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube reported: “During the July 19 meeting, Trump repeatedly suggested that [Gen. John Nicholson be replaced] … Trump has not met Nicholson, and the Pentagon has been considering extending his time in Afghanistan. He also startled the room with a story that seemed to compare their advice to that of a paid consultant who cost a tony New York restaurateur profits by offering bad advice. Trump’s national security team has been trying for months to come up with a new strategy he can approve. Those advisers are set to meet again to discuss the issue on Thursday at the White House. The president is not currently scheduled to attend the meeting, though one official said that could change …

“During the meeting, Trump criticized his military advisers seated around the table in the White House Situation Room for what he said was a losing U.S. position in the war … ‘We aren’t winning,’ Trump complained … ‘We are losing.’ One official said Trump pointed to maps showing the Taliban gaining ground, and that Mattis responded to the president by saying the U.S. is losing because it doesn’t have the strategy it needs.”

— From a conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations: 

https://twitter.com/maxboot/status/892934505111203840

In addition, you may recall the report of a White House link pushing the story that the DNC employee Seth Rich was murdered. (Here’s a useful timeline for that story.) Whether or not the White House was doing this at Russia’s request, it now turns out that Russia did indeed want to push such a story. Hunter Walker reports for Yahoo News:

Reporter Andrew Feinberg says a Russian state-owned news site he once worked for pressured him to advance a conspiracy theory about the fatal shooting of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

Feinberg, who was the White House correspondent for Sputnik, first made the allegations when he left the Russian outlet in May. However, his story is newly relevant in light of a lawsuit filed this week that accused President Trump and the White House of playing a role in a “fake news” story designed to advance the same conspiracy theory.

Feinberg started at Sputnik in January, just as Trump took office. He was the outlet’s first reporter to work inside the West Wing. In a conversation with Yahoo News on Wednesday, Feinberg alleged that Sputnik wanted him to bring up a news article that’s at the center of the lawsuit in the White House press briefing room.

The story, which was published on the Fox News website on May 16 and retracted a week later, suggested Rich may have played a role in last year’s leak of DNC emails. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the email leak was orchestrated by the Russian government to help Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. There are multiple investigations into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia.

Feinberg said that during a meeting held on May 26, his superiors asked him bring up the story in the press briefing.

“It was, ‘We want you to ask about Seth Rich and just, you know, ask about the case and if those revelations should put an end to the Russia hacking narrative and the investigation,” said Feinberg.

According to Feinberg, his bosses handed him a termination letter when he declined. He described the situation as “disturbing.”

“It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet,” Feinberg said. . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum has a good post this morning: “Afghanistan Plan Killed Because ‘21’ Closed For Remodeling 30 Years Ago. This Is Not a Joke.”

UPDATE 2: Jennifer Rubin’s column: “Trump will blame anyone for anything — except Russia for its conduct.” It begins:

President Trump tweeted, “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, you see, cannot prevent the president from revealing his self-delusions and own ignorance. Once again, we see Trump’s inability to recognize the danger posed to us by Russia and, worse, his own conduct in forcing Congress to act on its own initiative.

For starters, Russia brought this on itself by meddling in our elections and those of our European allies, invading neighbors, backing the murderous Syrian regime and engaging in domestic repression. Trump refuses to take issue with all that or to acknowledge that such conduct is contrary to U.S. interests. By blaming Congress, he once again does Russian President Vladimir Putin’s water-carrying. Blaming the West and casting Russia as the innocent victim come straight from the Russian propaganda playbook.

Trumps prefers not only to avoid identifying or punishing Russia but also shows no interest in protecting American democracy. Numerous intelligence officials have testified before Congress in open session that Trump has never asked them about Russian cyberespionage or anti-Western propaganda. Think about it. Trump will not acknowledge, let alone do something about the tactics of our chief international foe. He prefers that Congress do nothing — just appease and avoid Russia’s ire. That’s the sort of attitude conservatives in Congress and in the foreign policy community would have virulently criticize President Barack Obama for adopting (and did). . .

Read the whole thing. She concludes:

. . .  The question then presents itself: Is the president willing to counter an identified threat to U.S. national security, and will his administration follow the law in staffing and developing programs to do just that? So far the answer to both is “no.” Maybe the new chief of staff needs to remind the president that Russia, not Congress, is the enemy and prod Tillerson to comply with the law. That might require Tillerson to get out of his executive suite and engage with people doing the work of the State Department.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 August 2017 at 9:00 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s